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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2006
I seem to recall seeing a movie called Witchcraft through the ages on TV ages ago but did not realize that it was a truncated version of The Witch, made in 1922 ! All is now revealed in this fascinating study by Jack Stevenson in the first of a new series of handy sized books from Fabpress. The 1968 version of the film that I remember had a jazzy music score + a narration by William Burroughs but with a running time of 76 minutes it was a far cry from the original which in its uncut format was about half an hour longer ! This insightful book chronicles the career of actor / writer / failed opera singer Benjamin Christensen who had a prolific resume of films in his native Denmark plus a foray into Hollywood with varying degrees of success. After reading this work you will probably be asking yourself if Christensen was a madman - a genius, certainly a perfectionist or one of the first exploitation film makers ! The author poses the questions about Christensen with his factual style but allows the reader to come to his (or her) own conclusions.

The writing style is lucid & straightforward, the only word that I had to look up in a dictionary was pedagogic ! ( Read pedantic for a translation!). There's a wealth of interesting information in the 120 odd pages, such as the output of the Danish film industry : I can't recall that many movies from Denmark being shown in the cinema in England...However, now that The Witch is out on DVD in its 104 minute version the situation may well improve ! I'm sure people will want to get the DVD after reading this book !!! One final comment - the size of this new book format ( 7 and a half inches x 5 and a half !) is so convenient for storing & for travel companionship ( ! ) that I am looking forward to forthcoming releases with much enthusiastic anticipation !
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Found this book to be a compelling read, not because it gave the backstory to how the film, "Haxan" was made, but it including the side story of what it was like for many European filmmakers attempting to work in Hollywood. Was not aware of the connection between Benjamin Christensen, Lon Chaney, & F. W. Murnau until I read this book. A must for any fan of silent era cinema, as well as anyone interested in what goes into making a film.
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