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Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Benjamin Christensen, Elisabeth Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan, Elith Pio
  • Directors: Benjamin Christensen
  • Writers: Benjamin Christensen
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Silent, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English, Swedish
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005O5CA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,178 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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By TCJ on Nov. 17 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Outstanding film...the commentary was very interesting and intriguing ! Quality was great, and the music was intense too. B&W never looked so good. The costumes and sets were ahead of the times.
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Format: DVD
If you didn't know it...Haxan is a silent movie. It is a really good silent movie too (that is if you like movies that don't have Vin Deisel rocking out your subwoofers with huge explosions). The film starts out seeminly like a documentary about Withcraft through history. The film follows that path, but is just so strange and fascinating that you will most likely forget all about the documentary part. Instead of like basic documentaries shown today on the History Channel, Haxan's historical scenes are actually acted out in true film fashion. The catch is that Satan actually is in the film (played by the director himself). Once things start flying, horned demons go out dancing, and the peasants start kissing the director's a$$ (wow...now that is a true statement about Hollywood...MADE ALMOST A HUNDRED YEARS AGO), it is no longer a documentary, it is some freaky comedy played out with an humourously lighthearted soundtrack. Criterion even went as far as to include the original shading to the film (nothing beats a red washed scene quickly switching to blue, then back to red before going into a true black and white scene). To be honest, the colour shadings get kind of annoying (even if they are true to how the film originally was). Yet, they can be easily corrected by adjusting your television set.
If you want a shorter film about Satan set to a jazzy soundtrack, there is another version of the film included on the DVD for your viewing pleasure. It is also narrated by a very famous person with a voice that just makes you smile every time Satan gets a mortal soul eternally damned to hell. Nothing beats laughing at eternal damnation while listening to an excellenct jazz soundtrack.
Basically, Haxan is a very good film if you like silent films.
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Format: VHS Tape
Witchcraft and demonic possession pervade popular entertainment and popular culture. "Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages" by director Benjamin Christensen is a valuable reference because the film *graphically details* 1920's perceptions concerning witchcraft and demonic possession. "Haxan: ..." illustrates kissing the devil's arse as a sign of respect, depicts demonic skin as rough and scaly like snakeskin, equates golden showers of coins (from slot machines?) with demonic lures, and states that the inability to shed tears signifies demonic possession (I can't cry anymore?).
Updated in 1967 with narration by William Burroughs (author of "The Naked Lunch"), "Haxan: ..." is a study of ignorance, misery and poverty. The film attributes the origins of disease (including sexual dysfunction) and agricultural blight (with implied bestiality?) to witchcraft. The film discusses using a knotted cord (a modern witchcraft / Wiccan sigil) to cause male impotence and to prevent pregancy, while lager and wine goblets are dosed with aphrodisiacs. Numbness of women's backs (a reference to sexual dysfunction) is *stressed* as a sign of demonic possession. The film discusses the use of flails, spiked belts and spiked collars to purify the endangered soul by scourging the polluted body. Suspected witches are tortured both to confess their demonic possession and also to identify other witches. To escape further torture, suspected witches eagerly identify their personal enemies as practicing witches. ***The use of torture makes witch epidemics a self-fulfilling prophecy.***
"Haxon: ..." discusses 'The Burning Times' -- the inquisitions where convicted witches were burnt at the stake. Modern-day witches and Wiccans consider 'The Burning Times' a period of social and religious discrimination.
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Format: DVD
It just doesn't get any better than this. If you have any interest in the history of witchcraft, whether you are a follower, or just an innocent bystander; this movie will please. The acting is excellent, and it would have to be especially with it being a silent film. It is disturbing to see how people accused of witchcraft were treated. This movie depicts what happened very well. There is no better movie on the subject of witchcraft than Haxan.
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Format: DVD
I'm sorry that Criterion offered both the original film (104 min.), and the later '67 re-issue (approx. 80 min.)...simply because I can't decide which is better to represent what Christiansen was trying to accomplish. Inform? He does that quite well. Chill? NOT in the original presentation...although the original print is BEAUTIFULLY tinted, and is better-framed than the 1967 reissue, it's the MUSIC that tends to lull me to sleep...the only difference between the 2 versions (note the running times) is the absence of "narrative titles" in the 1967 reissue. The music of the '67 version has been criticized as being "too jazz, too eclectic," but to me, it only adds to the madness of what the director was trying to illustrate! The scene where two men steal a corpse into their village hut (for experiments) gives me chills in the '67 version...in the "Swedish Film Institute" version...it's only a few film segments edited together.
This DVD has a ton of Extras--Benjamin Christiansen's own introduction to the 1941 re-issue of the film, outtakes, stills, etc...this DVD is W-E-L-L worth the money. Problem is, to decide WHICH version to love.
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