This is a horror witch "documentary" that tells about how Satanic forces have manipulated women in all ages. It recreates 15th and 16th century inquisition trials and tell about witch torture (showing scientifically how the equipment for getting out the witch's confession works) before becoming more historic fiction. It has some pretty effective moments throughout.
(5) I also watched the 1968 re-edit with the Jazz score and Burroughs narration, and as much as I like WSB I'd give it just 3/5 stars. It feels to me like a disappointing reduction of the original, but I understand it's perhaps more palatable for people who struggle with silent film, and at least they'll get to see Christensen's amazing visuals.
The Curate's Egg supreme: reactionary thrill-seeking meets a plea of kinds for toleration and understanding. At any measure it's a fabulously textured encyclopaedia for those who wish such a thing in matters of witchcraft with its brilliantly realised vignettes and striking images. Cinema as cinema, that is almost purely the visual image.
3-4. It's a plea for empathy for the mentally ill, a critique of religious hypocrisy, and a condemnation of ageism and sexism. It's a series of educational visuals and simulated witch vignettes centered around one longer story about an old woman tortured into confessing to witchcraft. Obviously parts are dated (I'm not sure hysteria covers everything as an explanation for witch phenomena), but it remains striking.
Somehow darkly funny and yet quite frightening, aided by all the limitations of silent era cinema, Haxan fascinates and then haunts in the memory. The story arc is confusing and what starts as a segmented documentary gives way to a shorter drama of the accused witch. Anyway you see it it's wildly inventive and thoroughly unforgettable.
One of the most effective silent films I've ever seen, and notoriously underrated. Does it really dismiss spirituality away with reason in its final chapter? Or does the whole film basically enchant its audience anyway? ~ It's one circular joke that can be viewed many times with just as many differing interpretations.
Reminds me that there is always truth behind mystery, and that you will find your own face in the outmost depths of your greatest fears. So, let us spend our time and energy searching in obscurity, so we can unveil a bit more of that unlimited tenderness!
Both dead-pan droll and infected with the same hysterical sensationalism it purports to challenge! The visual fidelity to Medieval woodcuts works wonders... and when it's not faux-stuffy it's outright salacious! A shame to see the meta aspects cut from the 1960s re-release since they genuinely get under the skin... perhaps even more so now that the film is old and alien.
Although being a silent horror film, with it pretty much being unavoidable that some of the scares would now be quite less effective and often just funny, there is still more than enough macabre imagery to be surprisingly effective. Images of erratically moving deranged nuns losing their shit and horrifyingly detailed demons are enough to potentially cause night terrors.