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May 20, 2006

Witchcraft on Film

This screening is presented in collaboration with the Committee on Degrees in Folklore & Mythology at Harvard University and the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College, who will present the conference “Charming & Crafty: Witchcraft & Paganism in Contemporary Media” from May 18-21. The conference is co-organized by Peg Aloi and Hannah Sanders.Please visit for more information.

May 20 (Saturday) 7 pm

Day of Wrath (Verdens dag)

Directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer
Denmark 1943, b/w, 110 min.
With Thorkild Roose, Lisbeth Movin
Danish with English subtitles

Made during the darkest days of the Nazi occupation of Denmark, Day of Wrath portrays a society terrorized by ideology and by a ruthless police force and judicial system. Set in a seventeenth-century town whose citizens harbor hyperbolic fears of witchcraft, and where both young lovers and an older generation struggle with questions of morality and justice, the film speaks unmistakably to the contemporary situation in Europe. Poetic use of landscape and architecture lend an atmospheric intensity and visual beauty to the film that draws on elements of an older Scandinavian cinema. Like such other Dreyer masterpieces as The Passion of Joan of Arc and Vampyr, Day of Wrath creates intense moral drama from the most economic but powerful cinematic means.

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May 20 (Saturday) 9 pm

Witchcraft Through the Ages (Häxan)

Directed by Benjamin Christensen
Demark/Sweden 1922, b/w, silent 87 min.
With Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan, Elith Pio

Swedish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen explores the mysteries of witchcraft in this famed documentary study. Although the film relies on etchings and manuscripts to prove its findings on the subject the film is often wickedly hilarious and thoroughly entertaining in its efforts to capture the hysteria of the Middle Ages. Christensen employs a variety of filmic techniques including bizarre reenactments in which the director himself appears as the Devil.

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