Häxan

Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: Benjamin Christensen’s legendary silent film uses a series of dramatic vignettes to explore the scientific hypothesis that the witches of the Middle Ages and early modern era suffered from the same ills as psychiatric patients diagnosed with hysteria in the film's own time. Far from a dry dissertation on the topic, the film itself is a witches’ brew of the scary, the gross, and the darkly humorous. Christensen’s mix-and-match approach to genre anticipates gothic horror, documentary re-creation, and the essay film, making for an experience unlike anything else in the history of cinema.

Film Info

Special Features

  • On the Blu-ray: New 2K digital restoration
  • On the DVD: Digital transfer
  • Music from the 1922 Danish premiere, arranged by film-music specialist Gillian B. Anderson and performed by the Czech Film Orchestra in 2001, presented in 5.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray and in Dolby Digital 5.0 on the DVD
  • Audio commentary from 2001 featuring film scholar Casper Tybjerg
  • Witchcraft Through the Ages (1968), a seventy-six-minute version of Häxan narrated by author William S. Burroughs, with a soundtrack featuring violinist Jean-Luc Ponty
  • Director Benjamin Christensen’s introduction to the 1941 rerelease
  • Outtakes
  • Bibliothèque diabolique, a photographic exploration of Christensen’s historical sources, created in 2001
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara, remarks on the score by Anderson, and (with the Blu-ray) an essay by scholar Chloé Germaine Buckley

Blu-ray cover by Glyn Smith (pictured); DVD cover by Eva Wah

Purchase Options

Released Oct 15, 2019

Collector's Sets

Collector's Set

Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films

Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films

DVD Box Set

50 Discs

Ships Dec 29, 2019

$650.00

Special Features

  • On the Blu-ray: New 2K digital restoration
  • On the DVD: Digital transfer
  • Music from the 1922 Danish premiere, arranged by film-music specialist Gillian B. Anderson and performed by the Czech Film Orchestra in 2001, presented in 5.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray and in Dolby Digital 5.0 on the DVD
  • Audio commentary from 2001 featuring film scholar Casper Tybjerg
  • Witchcraft Through the Ages (1968), a seventy-six-minute version of Häxan narrated by author William S. Burroughs, with a soundtrack featuring violinist Jean-Luc Ponty
  • Director Benjamin Christensen’s introduction to the 1941 rerelease
  • Outtakes
  • Bibliothèque diabolique, a photographic exploration of Christensen’s historical sources, created in 2001
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara, remarks on the score by Anderson, and (with the Blu-ray) an essay by scholar Chloé Germaine Buckley

Blu-ray cover by Glyn Smith (pictured); DVD cover by Eva Wah

Häxan
Cast
Benjamin Christensen
The devil
Astrid Holm
The printer’s wife, Anna
Karen Winther
Anna’s sister
Maren Pedersen
Maria the weaver, a witch
Wilhelmine Henriksen
Apelone, a poor old woman
Kate Fabian
Old maid
Oscar Stribolt
Friar
Clara Pontoppidan
Sister Cecilia
Alice O’Fredericks
Nun
Johannes Andersen
Father Henrik, witch judge
Elith Pio
Johannes, witch judge
Aage Hertel
Witch judge
Ib Schønberg
Witch judge
Poul Reumert
Jeweler
Albrecht Schmidt
Alienist
Credits
Director
Benjamin Christensen
Written by
Benjamin Christensen
Cinematography
Johan Ankerstjerne
Editing
Edla Hansen
Set decoration
Richard Louw

From The Current

Häxan: “Let Her Suffering Begin”
Häxan: “Let Her Suffering Begin”

Decades before the witch became a staple of horror cinema, Benjamin Christensen used this gothic figure to explore the oppression of women in different historical periods.

By Chloé Germaine Buckley

Häxan: The Real Unreal
Häxan: The Real Unreal

Integrating fact, fiction, objective reality, hallucination, and different levels of representation, this silent masterpiece invented what decades later would be known as the essay film.

By Chris Fujiwara

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