Benjamin Christensen – Häxan (1922)

At 106 minutes, this is the longest available version of Benjamin Christensen’s otherworldly and truly unnerving 1922 feature that blends various generic forms. This version preserves the original tinting and does not feature the voiceover material from William S. Burroughs that was added decades later,

From Time Out London:
A weird and rather wonderful brew of fiction, documentary and animation based on 15th and 16th century witchcraft trials, Christensen’s film has a remarkable visual flair that takes in Bosch, Breughel and Goya (no wonder it was a particular favourite of the Surrealists). The director himself plays Satan, seducing a woman while she is in bed with her husband; another episode follows an accused witch through the tortures of the Inquisition. The film is now most commonly seen in a sound version, running 76 minutes, made in 1967 with a commentary by William Burroughs; a later restoration with tinted sequences is far preferable. –David Thompson

From the Chicago Reader:
A silent curiosity made in Denmark in 1922, with an episodic, rhetorical structure that would have appealed to Jean-Luc Godard. Director Benjamin Christensen apparently intended his film as a serious study of witchcraft (which he diagnoses, in an early pop-Freud conclusion, as female hysteria), but what he really has is a pretense for sadistic pornography. The film has acquired impact with age: instead of seeming quaint, the nude scenes and scatological references now have a crumbly, sinister quality—they seem the survivals of ancient, unhealthy imaginations. An ironic narration, written and performed in painful deadpan by William S. Burroughs, has been added to most of the circulating prints; it tends to narrow, rather than expand, the disturbing implications of the images. –Dave Kehr

2.39GB | 1h 46mn | 960×720 | mkv

Language(s):Silent, with Swedish and Danish intertitles
Subtitles:English (hardcoded)

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