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Haxan (The Criterion Collection) (1922)

Benjamin Christensen , Elisabeth Christensen , Benjamin Christensen  |  NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Benjamin Christensen, Elisabeth Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan, Elith Pio
  • Directors: Benjamin Christensen
  • Writers: Benjamin Christensen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled
  • Language: Swedish
  • Subtitles: English, Swedish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection, The
  • DVD Release Date: October 16, 2001
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005O5CA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,608 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Haxan (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Includes both versions of the film: Haxan (1922) - a new, speed-corrected digital trandfer of the Swedish Film Institutes's corrected tinted restoration and Witchcraft Through The Ages (1968) - the 74 minute version of Haxan, narrated by William S. Burroughs, with a soundtrack featuring Jean-Luc Ponty
  • Music from the original Danish premiere
  • Director Benjamin Christensen's introduction to the 1941 re-release
  • A short selection of outtakes
  • Bibliotheque Diabolique: a photographic exploration of Christensen's historical sources

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: Benjamin Christensen's legendary 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. But the film itself is far from serious-instead it's a witches' brew of the scary, gross, and darkly humorous. The Criterion Collection is proud to present two versions of this genre-defying "documentary," for the first time ever on DVD.

Witchcraft through the ages is explored with dark wit in this silent classic. Writer-director Benjamin Christensen uses a historical study of witchcraft as a jumping-off point for a fascinating film that is part science, part horror, and part social commentary. This Criterion edition uses a beautiful print, a rearrangement of music from the original Danish premiere, and the original Swedish intertitles (with subtitles). Goodies include commentary by Danish film scholar Casper Tybjerg, the option of watching a narrated version without intertitles, and test shots from the film. The test shots, in particular, give insight into the early filmmaking process, as when Christensen uses his own image to try out (and reject) a flying effect. This is a worthy edition to the collection of fans of horror films, silent films, and film in general. --Ali Davis

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion bewitches with their new Haxan dvd October 23, 2001
I have just finished watching the new Criterion dvd of Haxan and I couldn't be more pleased! I have never seen this film, but thought I would try it out, as I have always had a fascination with the grotesque, mysticism, and the occult. Haxan delivers in spades.
This 1922 Danish silent film about black magic, witches, satanism, and the persecution of said subjects during the middle-ages, which attempts to make a connection between the ancient phenomena and the modern study of hysteria (modern in 1922), has been wonderfully presented by The Criterion Collection in their new dvd. This new Criterion dvd has the original 104 min. version with a newly recorded 5.0 soundtrack orchestrated from archival documentation, and the 76 min. version released in 1967, which has narration by legendary counter-culture icon William S. Burroughs.
Watching the original version, I found it full of great imagery and fine silent acting. Emotions and actions are superbly conveyed by the actors, and the sets, costumes, lighting, and effects are all wonderfully done. I especially like the interrogation chamber and the Sabbath scenes, which display lots of good props and much deviltry with rather convincing special effects and make-up. The movie is structured in seven chapters, the first giving a historical account of witchcraft's origins in literature and illustrations. We then are presented with drama plays, having to do with the practice of witches, and the persecution, trying, and torturing of said witches. We are also presented with several instances of the devil manifesting and making demands on his minions. In the end, Christensen attempts to make a correlation between the acts, mannerisms, and various disfigurements anciently attributed to witches and their craft, and the modern affects of hysteria.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More "bewitching" than ever! October 25, 2001
One of the most famous cult/horror films from the silent era, Benjamin Christensen's "Häxan" is at its devilish best on this EXCELLENT DVD release by the great folks at the Criterion Collection. Say good-bye to those murky, washed out video prints we've all had to put up with, and say hello to a nearly flawless print of the film wonderfully transfered to the disc. The images are so crisp and clear, many of the scenes look as if they could have been filmed yesterday. The clarity also allows for you to see much more of the detail in each frame. Also lending to the beautiful images is accurate tinting and correct "projection" speed. Also included is a terrific musical score which has been reconstructed from the actual music that accompanied the original 1922 release in Denmark.
Extras include movie outtakes, production stills, audio commentary, and the 1960's version of the film with William S. Burroughs narrating.
The bottom line: this is far and away the best version of "Häxan" you will find anywhere, and belongs in the collection of any silent film buff.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Faulty or Incomplete? Criterion Might Be Safer Bet June 19, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
WARNING: My copy of the "(Enhanced)" version, does not contain the entire film!!!

Shortly after the Devil has compelled a nun to exit her office with a knife, the DVD abruptly ends! After some research (on youtube), I discovered that this act continues with the culmination of a dance frenzy at her convent, followed by the concluding act depicting the woes of a woman's psychosis. All said, the final 15 minutes of the film are missing.

The DVD states it is 90 minutes long. The feature length of the film is supposed to be 105 minutes! There is no sign of these final acts in the chapter menu either.

Whether a faulty DVD or an incomplete version of the film, you might do better purchasing the Criterion release instead.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haxan is Great!! September 26, 2004
By Ian
Format:VHS Tape
This movie, in my opinion, is one of my favorite depictions of witchcraft and its history, mythology, horror, and customs. The movie is directed beautifully and hauntingly at the same time. Some of the images will stick with you forever. Benjamin Christensen's portrayal as the devil is frightning, yet somewhat humorous. This film definantely deserves a place in the top 100 greatest movies of all time. Enjoy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is not what I expected at all, from reading the back of the Criterion dvd you hear about Grave Robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic sabbath, so I'm thinking a horror movie. What i got was writer director Benjamin Christensen exposing witchcraft for what it really was, mental disorders. He does this first with some dark comedy which reminded me of Jeff Foxworthy's whole bit about you might be a redneck if, however here it's you might be a witch if. It's infuriating almost, to see how ignorance and fear of anything and anyone different were proclaimed witches and tortured and murdered. If you denied being a witch then you were tortured until you basically just wanted to die, so you would say anything they wanted. Prisoners were often tricked into saying they were a witch in exchange for freedom. I got a kick out of the woman who gets tortured till she's had enough and says I'll tell you everything and starts naming off everybody that's done her wrong and how there witches as well, smart idea. In my opinion everyone that cuts me off in traffic are witches. At the end he shows how modern day (being the 20's) it is hysteria and mental disorders, which we have specific names for every disorder he shows, and not the work of witches.
There are images of horror but it's more describing the peoples fear and nothing that actually happened.
I was surprised on the internet movie database that the only genre this falls into is horror. It's a a whole lot deeper than that i believe and plays true today and every decade since.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating movie. Maintained interest despite age, subtitles, etc.
Published 4 days ago by Scribe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
kind of stereotypical in spots but entertaining
Published 3 months ago by Charles Skinner
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Great Silent Film.
This movie is awesome. I saw it on Turner Classic Movies and fell in love with it instantly. The settings are beautiful, and the settings involving witches and demons are... Read more
Published 3 months ago by DisneyVillain
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a decent restoration.
Nice restoration by Criterion, you almost wouldn't believe the film was made in 1922. For its time this is a pretty objective rendition of medieval witch hunt frenzy. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Torino
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed witchy bag
Criterion Collection's restoration of HAXAN is flawless. The film looks practically new.
It's also more detailed than I remember, with chapter (reel?) titles. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Annie Van Auken
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I wanted
I was after the William Burroughs narrated version but this isn't it............Still interesting though if you're interested in Witchcraft in any way
Published 20 months ago by Martin Doy
5.0 out of 5 stars its fantastic and funny
ok the fact the devil keeps popping up churning butter in the corner of hte room is hilarious. The original version is a little better than the other version but both are on this... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Todd Welsh
4.0 out of 5 stars ON HAXAN:
The historical possibilities show more truth than fiction. The Catholic Church, and later the fundamentalists Protestants, decimated millions of people, both male and female,... Read more
Published 22 months ago by John Dotson
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Documentary and Dark Fantasy Blended into an Instant Classic
If you haven't seen this phenomenal silent film then by all means do. It's a Swedish film about witchcraft and the frenzied denials and condemnations that surrounded it during the... Read more
Published on November 6, 2011 by Kenneth Mark Hoover
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most expected treasures released by Criterion Collection!
During the years of the silent film -around the twenties- Sweden was among the leading countries of the seventh art. Read more
Published on August 24, 2011 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
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