(The Witch) is the first true `film maudit' (literally a `cursed film') and
can justifiably be considered the world's first cult movie. This
taboo-shattering work occupies an exclusive niche in the annals of horror
cinema. Greeted by angry protests upon release, it was censored, banned and
condemned everywhere. To `decent folks' it was the most morbid and perverse
film ever made, while others hailed it as a sober and scientific yet
thoroughly human document. To Christensen it was the consuming obsession of
his life, the film he was put on earth to make. It was a labour of love
that would win him immortality of a sort but would also hang over the rest
of his career like a dark shadow.
Was Häxan the first and most perverse exploitation film, replete with
Satanic debauchery, or the original classic of documentary cinema? Who was
this mysterious man, Benjamin Christensen, and what really drove him to
create this extraordinary epic?
Delving into the original Danish source material, author Jack Stevenson
places Häxan within the context of Christensen's wider career, and also
within the context of the times, in the process presenting a picture of
this film at the `moment of impact.' Amazingly, many of the issues that
embroiled this film upon its release are still being hotly debated today.