Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Original Witch

Just in time for All Hallows the fine folks at Criterion have gone and released Benjamin Christensen's 1922 silent terror Häxan onto blu-ray, available today this very day! Hard to believe but I've never seen this classic before myself -- it's been on my list ever since I first heard about it in college [redacted] years back, and I've seen clips here and there, but somehow the whole thing kept slipping through my bony fingers. Until now! I'll definitely be plunking myself down this Halloween Season with this devilish beauty that Criterion's gifted us with. So should you! If you hit the jump I'll share the extra features that are included on Criterion's typically exhaustive set...

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.

* New 2K digital restoration
* 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
* 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: Essays by critic Chris Fujiwara and scholar Chloé Germaine Buckley, as well as remarks on the score by Anderson

1 comment:

Pax Romano said...

TCM has run this film several times including just recently earlier this month. I have it in a file on my DVR. It's a rather nightmarish affair in that the imagery is so creepy. It gets under my skin. I think I reviewed it on my old horror blog some years back.

Anyway, enjoy it.