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 suffered the same hysteria as turn-of-the-century psychiatric patients. 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 original Danish premiere, arranged by film-music specialist Gillian 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), the 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
  • Short selection of outtakes
  • Bibliothèque Diabolique: a photographic exploration of Christensen’s historical sources
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara, remarks on the score by Anderson, and (Blu-ray only) an essay by scholar Chloé Germaine Buckley

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

Purchase Options

Coming soon, available 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

$650.00

Special Features

  • On the Blu-ray: New 2K digital restoration
  • On the DVD: Digital transfer
  • Music from the original Danish premiere, arranged by film-music specialist Gillian 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), the 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
  • Short selection of outtakes
  • Bibliothèque Diabolique: a photographic exploration of Christensen’s historical sources
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara, remarks on the score by Anderson, and (Blu-ray only) 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 scribe'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, a nun
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
Jeweller
Albrecht Schmidt
Alienist
Credits
Director
Benjamin Christensen
Screenplay
Benjamin Christensen
Cinematography
Johan Ankerstjerne
Editing
Edla Hansen
Set decoration
Richard Louw

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Häxan: About the Music

Häxan had its world premiere in Stockholm, on September 18, 1922. The score that accompanied the film was compiled from preexisting compositions, the names of which have unfortunately been lost. But, thanks to a published list, we do know what music

By Gillian Anderson