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Witch Film Classics: Haxan

By Zan

One of the most luridly misunderstood films in the history of cinema, as well as a fantastic accomplishment in silent-film technology, is 1922′s Swedish/ Danish Haxan (“The Witch”), directed by Danish film-maker Benjamin Christensen. (It is also sometimes known as Witchcraft Through the Ages.) I say “lurid” because it has a reputation for being a very trippy, out-there, psychedelic sort-of affair (apparently there was a version with William S. Burroughs providing dialogue). However, it is actually a very sober-minded film, quite well and logically arranged, intended to build up to a massive indictment of the medieval Burning Times. Produced at a time when cinema was a brand-new medium, Mr. Christensen’s work is basically a documentary with dramatization: it is described as a “cultural and historical presentation in moving pictures.” It definitely deserves to be considered a Witch Film-Classic (perhaps the first Witch Film-Classic), and should be viewed by any Witch or Pagan who wishes to know better the Middle Ages horror of the Witch-Burnings. It is happily available at Hulu.com; please set aside some time and check it out.

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