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Häxan (Witches Through the Ages)

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Breaking with usual practices of the time, writer/director Benjamin Christensen was opposed to adapting a pre-existing work and thus set out to create a wholly original film. He took inspiration from Middle Age era inquisitor manual Malleus Maleficarum, and other treaties on witchcraft and those that hunted them, to produce Häxan (Witches Through the Ages). Christensen’s magnum opus is a wry study on what can be achieved through the marriage of mankind’s capacity for destruction and its boundless ignorance. Through a mix of documentary and dramatization, Christensen explores medieval culture, beliefs and superstition. The final chapter of the film works to understand how these superstitions, behaviors and the resulting inhumanity would be explained in the 20th century while making irony-infused parallels to the modern practices that have replaced them.

 

Year: 1922
Runtime: 104 mins
Language: Swedish
Genre: Documentary/Fantasy/Horror

Directed by Benjamin Christensen
Screenplay by Benjamin Christensen
Cinematography Johan Ankerstjerne

Starring
Benjamin Christensen
Clara Pontoppidan
Oscar Stribolt
Astrid Holm
Maren Pedersen

Accolades:
Sight and Sound – The Greatest Documentaries of All Time (2014) [#213]
They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They (2017) [#985]
Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown (2012)
FLM's Best Swedish Films of All Time (2012) [#33]
Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Narrative Films (2012)
The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die (2011)