Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages

By Clive Python | 14jammar

I will be talking about plot points in the movie, so spoilers.

Only 20's kids will remember 1922; what a time to be alive! While there were films made before 1922, none other was more ambitious than Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.

This was director Benjamin Christensen's third movie, with a budget costing nearly two million Swedish kronor it was the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever made. The movie shows basic camera technics such as playing film backwards and overlaying film.

Due to the fact that the original copyright holder failed to renew its copyright, this now means that it is in the Public Domain - meaning that anyone can duplicate and sell copies of the film. Becuase of this, you should look it up online!

Häxan is quite often than not overlooked by Nosferatu that came out in the same year. The movie is split into four parts;

Part I

The first part of the movie starts off with showing a short history of demons and witches in primitive and medieval culture. The movie goes on and tells the viewer of what past cultures believed about the order of the world (i.e. God and the like).

Part II

Part II is really where the film starts to get crazy. The movie shows a sleeping woman who is soon tempted by Satan (played by the director) who soon makes the woman go away from her husband's bed and terrorises a group of monks.

Part III

A woman, who is thought to be a witch is put on trial and is tortured until she confesses her crimes.

Part IV

The last part of the movie is very interesting as it shows medieval methods of torture like the the thumbscrew, The Breast Ripper and other grizzly devices.

This is part of the movie that is most down to Earth, not only does it not deal with fantasy but it also goes out of its way to inform the viewer that one of the reasons why many women were mistaken for witches and then killed was because of ignorance such as religion.

An example of this would be that the movie tells of how nuns would use some torture devices on their self - such as a belt that had spikes on the inside to get closer to God.


The movie has been heavily censored in some countries and even banned in The United States for what was considered at the time to be graphic depictions of torture, nudity (the most you see is a woman's bottom) and sexual acts. Compared to newer movies such as Saw and The Human Centipede the movie is very tame.

When the film was re-released in Demark in 1941, Benjamin Christensen considered removing the modern-day sequences from the film. Inevitably, the film was released with the modern scenes intact.

Despite how tame the movie is, in the UK the movie is still classed as an 18.

On a personal level, I think that Häxan should be reclassified as 12A. The guidelines for a 12A movie are;

May contain mature themes, discrimination, soft drugs, moderate language, moderate violence, sex references and nudity. Sexual activity may be briefly and discreetly portrayed. Use of strong language may be permitted based on frequency and how they are used, as well as contextual justification. Sexual violence may be implied or briefly indicated.

What do you think? Should the movie be reclassified or should it stay an 18?

1968 Recut

in 1968 America, an abbreviated version of the film was released, called "Witchcraft Through the Ages". It was narrated by William S. Burroughs and had a horrible jazz score by Daniel Humair

The movie was cut from 104 minutes to 77 minutes. This version of the movie may (or may not) be public domain.


British Board of Film Classification - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Board_of_Film_Classification#Current_certificates [Internet Archive, archive.is]

Movies I Like - 14jammar (Archive of OwlMan's old site)
https://owlman.neocities.org/14jammar/Movies.html [Internet Archive, archive.is]

Häxan - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A4xan [archive.is]

Watch/download Häxan - Internet Archive

Häxan - IMDb
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0013257/?ref_=fn_tt_tt_1 [archive.is]
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0013257/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv [Internet Archive, archive.is]

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages Recolour - 14jammar
https://owlman.neocities.org/library/img/haxan/hwcttarecolour_14jammar.png [Internet Archive, archive.is]

Written by Clive "James" Python, 29/04/17.