Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (The Witches) (Haxan)
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Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (The Witches) (Haxan)
Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen's obsession with bizarre lighting effects reached its apotheosis with his 1922 masterpiece Häxan. Beginning in a deceptively sedate fashion with a series of woodcuts and engravings (a technique later adopted by RKO producer Val Lewton), the film then shifts into gear with a progression of dramatic vignettes, illustrating the awesome power of witchcraft in the Middle Ages. So powerful are some of these images that even some modern viewers will avert their eyes from the screen. Though obviously a work of pure imagination, the film occasionally takes on… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Swedish and Danish pictures easily hold the palm for morbid realism and in many cases for brilliant acting and production."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"In fact Haxan is a deeply rationalistic piece of humanism, exposing the horrors of superstition and hysteria rather than of witchcraft itself."
‑ Anton Bitel, Film4
"The sophistication of these 1920 special effects are hard to believe"
‑ Jon Niccum, Lawrence Journal-World
"Before you think the filmmaker is one sick dude, he also develops scenarios to show how innocent women are deceived and trapped into witch accusations..."
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"Benjamin Christensen's pioneering look at ancient Scandinavian witchcraft is impressive and genuinely disturbing."
‑ Christopher Null, Filmcritic.com
"A silent curiosity made in Denmark in 1922, with an episodic, rhetorical structure that would have appealed to Jean-Luc Godard."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Begins as a documentary about witches but turns into a real, honest-to-goodness horror film with scary images of witches, devils, evil spells, etc."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"One of the earliest films that takes misogyny and sexual repression as its subject."
‑ Bryant Frazer, Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
"The film stands as a fascinating historical document, and, more surprisingly, as a thoroughly watchable film."
‑ Jeremy Heilman, MovieMartyr.com
"Its view of witchcraft seems dated (especially compared to the new graphic-novel treatment of Jack the Ripper in theaters). In fact, Haxan seems almost quaint, which I donâ(TM)t think was the directorâ(TM)s intent."
‑ Marty Mapes, Movie Habit
"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."
‑ , Time Out
"Ostensibly an exposé of religious persecution born from ignorance of science ... or, when filtered through the bong water of the psychedelic '60s to become Witchcraft Through the Ages, a trippy exercise in surreal pop filmmaking extravagance."
‑ Mark Bourne, DVDJournal.com
"Fascinating pioneering horror"
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Viewers who think "silent" films are boring and primitive would do well to start with this one as an example of how advanced they really were."
‑ Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies
"A truly unique work that still holds the power to unnerve even in today's jaded era."
‑ James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk