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Posted: May 30th, 2008, 12:56 pm
by benwhowell

Just like the witches in "Haxan," Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen tossed many clever ingredients into his pot and brought forth this provocative 1922 silent feature filmlook at witchcraft in the Middle Ages.
I don't know why this film doesn't have a larger following...It is campy and creepy and fun and freaky...The ultimate "midnight movie!"
Christensen bewitches, bothers and bewilders us with cool "witch" illustration slideshows and amazing photoplay recreations.
The photography, sets and costumes are sublime.
And what a terrific cast...The faces, bodies and "performances" are what you would expect to have seen in the Middle Ages.
I guess there are a few "versions." The "version" I possess (videotaped from TCM) has a great score. There's another "one" with narration by William Burroughs.
I do not have IFC-so I'm anxious for someone to let me know what I missed...
I am pleased that I have "Haxan" on the same VHS tape with the Val Lewton/ Mark Robson classic, "The Seventh Victim."

Posted: May 30th, 2008, 2:26 pm
by charliechaplinfan
You did right to let everyone know about this. I've seen this film and it's fabulous looking with a strangely compelling story.

Set those recorders everyone

Posted: June 11th, 2008, 3:38 am
by stacia
Well, I'm a little late to the conversation ;) I saw "Haxan" on TCM recently but missed the IFC showing. Was it the one with the Burroughs narration? I'm sort of curious about that version, although I know next to nothing about it.

Posted: June 11th, 2008, 3:27 pm
by MichiganJ
The William Burroughs narrated version of Häxan was retitled Witchcraft Through the Ages and released in 1968 (which explains a lot). It contains a rousing jazz score by Daniel Humair (featuring Jean-Luc Ponty on the violin!). This version runs 76-minutes (the original runs 104-minutes) and the projection speed appears slightly fast. I haven’t watched both versions back to back (I can only take so much surrealism at a time) so I’m unclear how much is “missing” in the narrated version. While I generally prefer the original, the narrated version certainly makes an already surreal film, what?--surrealer?

I don't know which version is shown on TCM or IFC but the original Häxan is available on DVD in the U.S. from the Criterion Collection, with Witchcraft Through the Ages included as a special feature.

Posted: June 11th, 2008, 4:00 pm
by stacia
Thank you, MichiganJ! I hadn't realized the DVD release also contained the narrated version, I will check it out.