Last night, we began Craft Cinema's season of controversial and banned films with Häxan by Benjamin Christensen.
When Häxan was released in 1922, audiences were shocked by its graphic imagery and violence. The film's content was based on Benjamin Christensen's extensive research into the history of witchcraft and the persecution of those accused of it. The film was initially banned in many countries because its explicit images and violence were considered too shocking for the public. Additionally, the clergy took exception to the film's depiction of them as comic relief.
Despite the controversy, Häxan received a positive review from Variety, a respected publication at the time. However, even Variety stated that the film was "absolutely unfit for public consumption." Upon its re-release during the 1960s, many viewers praised Häxan for its feminist slant and its stance against intolerance. But controversy has continued to swirl around the film, with some modern critics questioning its values and inherent cinematic worth.
Regardless, Häxan is clearly an influential piece of cinema. The film is considered a benchmark in the genre of controversial films, and it has been emulated and referenced throughout the history of horror cinema. Its groundbreaking use of special effects, stop-motion animation, and intercutting between documentary footage and narrative sequences have all had a profound impact on the way horror films are made.
Come join us for our next Craft Cinema, where we'll be exploring more banned, controversial or otherwise “difficult” films, and then stick around for an open discussion. We're dying to hear your thoughts on the next one! (Sorry, can't spill the beans - you'll have to show up to find out, if you're up for it!)