10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Technical masterpiece, but strange...very strange,
This review is from: Häxan - Witchcraft Through the Ages  [DVD] (DVD)
"Häxan" is one of the strangest films I have ever seen. Produced in 1922 by the Danish film director Benjamin Christensen, this film is a dramatized documentary about the history of witch craft up to the present day. Without any background knowledge, I watched the film and for a long time I was puzzled as to why this film was made. Now I understand that Christensen wanted "to create a whole new film rather than an adaptation of literary fiction", making it so out of the ordinary.
Although the acting is natural, a number of scenes seem to be a straight from a fairytale (the broomstick ride), while other scenes seem almost random at first glance (the somnambulist). Yet, in hindsight the film was worthwhile watching, even if it was only for the fantastic devil character played by Christensen himself. It seems odd for viewers today, but the film was banned for many years in a number of countries, because of its explicit and blasphemous nature.
From a technical point of view, I was impressed with the sharpness of the film and the usage of (what looks to me) colour filters in a number of scenes. Even after 90 years, I think "Häxan" would stand the test of HD TV without a problem. This sharpness combined with the usage of colour filter gave me the feeling I was actually watching a colour film. This was the case especially with the scenes of the kleptomaniac. Amazing!
In my opinion, this is not a film for a casual viewer, but only for people genuinely interested in silent films or film historians. Whatever your reasons for watching "Häxan", prepare yourself for one of the strangest films ever made.