Friday, October 31, 2014

Häxan (1922) / Witchcraft Through the Ages (1968)

Benjamin Christensen's silent movie Häxan (1922) clocks in at 87 minutes (or is it 104?); via Antony Balch, it morphs into a 77-minute version: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1968), wickedly narrated by William S. Burroughs and accompanied by a jazz soundtrack courtesy of Jean-Luc Ponty and Daniel Humair. Both versions are weird and fascinating and come together on one DVD thanks to the Criterion Collection.
"Häxan integrates fact, fiction, objective reality, hallucination, and different levels of representation -- all within a first-person discourse. . . The mixture of narrative modes . . . is astonishing for its freedom and audacity." - Gillian Anderson, liner notes, Criterion Collection DVD, 2001. 
"At times, Häxan appears to be a literal depiction of the imaginings of people of medieval Europe . . "  Sometimes funny, sometimes scary, sometimes both (the Devil's obscenely flickering tongue, for example). Crazy cool stuff, indeed, ending with little psychiatric episodes from the 20th century.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Today's Rune: Initiation.


Charles Gramlich said...

Never seen it. Have heard about it. Never been able to watch an entire silent film.

the walking man said...

Too much noise in your head Charles. I think that the end psychiatric scenes from that era would be the scariest portion, we were barbaric 100 years ago.

jodi said...

Erik-I'm with Charles, but I've never tried to watch a silent!

t said...

I saw a clip (Coursera/ScanFilmTV) , fascinated, now want to watch, but scared can you believe it?