Benjamin Christensen, Sweden/Denmark, 1922, DCP, silent, 106′, English subtitles
Live music: Elvis Homan (drums and electronics), Boštjan Simon (saxophone and electronics).
Structured as a series of hypnotic and hallucinatory vignettes, Christensen’s highly inventive and pioneering combination of documentary and horror cinema proposes to chronicle the history of witchcraft and the occult, but in fact offers a stark criticism of modern society. Heavily censored at the time of its release, the surreal, grotesque and strikingly progressive The Witch today rightly stands as one of the most artistically unique and original works of cinema’s silent era.
“Needless to say, The Witch provoked controversy. It was banned in several countries and its release experienced obstacles virtually everywhere. At the same time, its anticlericalism was celebrated by the surrealists, who declared it a masterpiece of subversion. In the late 1960s, it found a countercultural audience through a shortened version that carried a doomsday narration by William Burroughs. /…/ The 90s saw the restoration of the original print, which gave the film a third life, now within the safe realms of cinephilia.”
– Ernest Mathijs, 100 Cult Films