Häxan (Danish: Heksen; English title: The Witches or Witchcraft Through the Ages) is a Swedish-Danish silent film completed in 1920 and released in 1922. Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen, the film's documentary style is dramatized with horror sequences. Based partly on Christensen's study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors, Häxan is a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases or mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts.
With Christensen's meticulous recreation of medieval scenes and the lengthy production period, the film was the most expensive Scandinavian silent film ever made, costing nearly two million Swedish kronor. Although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden, the film was banned in the United States and heavily censored in other countries for what was considered at that time graphic depictions of torture, nudity, and sexual perversion.
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