Witchcraft Through The Ages

274. WITCH CRAFT THROUGH THE AGES (HŠxan) (1922-Sweden). Written, directed and with BENJAMIN CHRISTENSEN. A compelling and unique horror masterpiece. This work, based on painstaking research, attempts to reconstruct those wretched aberrations of an age when Satanism disturbed many souls.Ó In the opening scenes, drawings end explanatory lilies illustrate how the Devil and his fellow demons were pictured from the ancient Egyptian era to medieval times. From there, the film takes off-wildly and extravagantly-into vivid dramatizations of witchcraft in the 15th century. We see black masses attended by Satan himself (played by writer-director Ben Christensen); witches brewing strange potions and dinners (consisting of corpses’ fingers, toads, snakes and unborn babies-sort of ancestors of today’s junk foods); numerous profanations of the cross and of Christianity in general; a witch giving birth to demons conceived by the Devil: nuns, possessed by Satan, writhing in ecstatic frenzy; and assorted other vulgarities, sexual perversions and diabolical rituals. Torture devices, which the Church allegedly used to force witches to confess, are as barbaric and horrifying as anything else in the film. Christensen, whom Carlos Clarens, in “An Illustrated History of the Horror Film,” called Òone of the most ignored talents of his generation,” imbues his film with atmospherically gloomy photography and excellent special effects. The concluding section attempts, unconvincingly, to connect witchcraft and Satanism to such contemporary illnesses as hysteria, sleepwalking and kleptomania! Because of its nudity, vulgarity and graphic images, the film was banned in many countries; even today it comes close to an R rating, if you’re faint of heart or insist upon good taste, be forewarned! Titles in English, silent film with music score, correct projection speed. 131 minutes. “Silent” Horror