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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 (46 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: 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 (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005O5CA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,063 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

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

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
136 of 143 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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41 of 42 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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21 of 22 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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15 of 17 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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Way to have the DVD just end in the middle of a scene December 28, 2010
As other readers have pointed out, the dimwits at Triad Productions allowed their DVD to simply end in the middle of a scene, a full 15 minutes before the film has reached completion. Genius. Absolute genius.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Scandanavian Original Restored At Last. October 20, 2001
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
What a great time to be a silent film enthusiast. Thanks to video technology it's now possible to have access to more silent films than ever before and in the best condition since their original release. For years Danish director Benjamin Christensen's 1922 controversial "documentary" HAXAN (The Witch) has been available (when it's been available) in either lousy public domain copies projected at the wrong speed or in the extremely funky edited version narrated by William Burroughs with a modern jazz score. Now with the help of the Swedish Film Institute and Home Vision Cinema/Criterion Collection it is finally possible to see the film the way that Christensen intended it. Over thirty minutes of censored footage has been restored along with original tints that make this version far superior to anything that has been previously available.

For those of you who know HAXAN only through the William Burroughs version known as WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES, it too has been included in this new release (DVD and VHS) so you can see the difference. Added bonuses include footage of Christensen in 1941 (in addition to directing he also portrayed Satan) and outtakes from various scenes. While not a great film it remains a remarkable, gripping experience full of striking images that stay with you long after the film is over. Although not a documentary in the true sense of the word, it does attempt to portray a selected history of what was called witchcraft and how it was brutally dealt with by the church. Scenes of nudity, torture, carnal lust, and flagellation helped to get it banned in several countries as well as heavily edited.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 5 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 14 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 15 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 16 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Presentation by Criterion
Loved Criterion's presentation. I would only say that I was a bit put off by the 1968 version. The droning Burroughs was a bore and the "music" sounded like someone dropped... Read more
Published on July 18, 2011 by Cade M. Cannon
5.0 out of 5 stars Haxan Criterion release is outstanding DVD package
Haxan is a 1922 Swedish/Danish silent film. It is partly a documentary on medieval beliefs about witchcraft, partly a horror movie, partly an exploitation flick, and partly a... Read more
Published on June 29, 2011 by Aaron Wooldridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Witchcraft - and Filmmaking - Through the Ages
I don't exaggerate in the least when I tell you that the Criterion release of "Häxan" is one of the most fascinating DVD's in my collection - a collection that currently... Read more
Published on January 24, 2011 by J. Michael Click
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrible fun
Diabolical. Beautiful. Disturbing. Entrancing. This is all in one. It is a film to watch alone in a darkened room, with some intense black metal blasting in the background to make... Read more
Published on January 20, 2011 by hated and proud
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