Thursday, October 13, 2011

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1923) **1/2

A cult movie in more ways than one.

Shown as a Witching Hour film since the 1960s, this 1923 Ben Christensen silent docuhorror (I think I just made this genre up) is a study of witchcraft through the ages. It's supposed to be a "documentary", but I don't know how realistic one can truly be when it comes to filming reenactments of the Devil & Co. I can just imagine the outrage the release of this film caused in strict-Lutheran haxan-top Sweden and Denmark! In America, a Variety reviewer said this about the film: "Wonderful though this picture is, it is absolutely unfit for public exhibition." Satanism, overt sensualism, and a bit of nudity were just too darn much for 1923!

While the story is not bowl-you-over compelling (though it is both spooky and comical at the same time), the set design, makeup, costumes, and lighting are imaginative. And who doesn't love a story with the devil, horns and all, seducing young women? An interesting film to watch, sober or otherwise.


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