With a budget of nearly 2 million kronor, Häxan (The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages) is the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever. Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen this classic horror film from 1922 was partly inspired by Christensen’s reading of Malleus Maleficarum, the 15th century guide to witch-finding. Christensen presents his film as a faux documentary, examining the hysteria around witchcraft, the occult and demonic possession.
The film splits into 4 sections, each with its own theme. The first examines demons and ideas of Hell; the second is series of stories about witchcraft and the use of magic - Christensen makes an appearance as Satan; the third part is set in the Middle Ages and follows a woman accused of witchcraft, who under torture admits to charges of witchcraft; the fourth floats the idea witchcraft and demonology are a treatable form of mental illness.
It’s a more than interesting film, one for a winter’s night - especially if you can stand to read all the caption cards (an edited version was released in 1965 with commentary from William Burroughs, which is easier on the eye) - and is famed for its incredible and powerful dramatic sequences of demons, witches, occult practices and Satan.