Thursday, October 14, 2010

Häxan @UAlbany

"Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages" (Denmark, 1922, 104 minutes, color tinted b/w, with Danish and English intertitles, silent with restored original score, directed by Benjamin Christensen) will be shown on Friday, October 22, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. in Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, on the University at Albany's downtown campus. Sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, the screening is free and open to the public.

Häxan (English title: The Witches or Witchcraft Through The
Ages
) is a 1922 Swedish/Danish silent film written and directed by Benjamin Christensen. Based partly on Christensen's study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th century German guide for inquisitors, Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts.

The film was made as a documentary but contains dramatized sequences that are comparable to horror films. With Christensen's meticulous recreation of medieval scenes and the lengthy production period, the film was the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever made, costing nearly two million Swedish krona. Although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden, the film was banned in the United States and heavily censored in other countries for what were considered at that time graphic depictions of torture, nudity, and sexual perversion.

Yes, sex goes hand-in-hand with Satan, and Christensen's flamboyant portrayal of the aforementioned character, complete with flicking, wanton tongue, drives home the point (well, that and a peppering of nudity). Unique to say the least, ‘Haxan' is a rather weird curio of a film with some incredibly atmospheric, somewhat graphic images, esp. for that era.

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