Monthly Archives: October 2015

Their Satanic Majesties Request: Groove with William S. Burroughs in Witchcraft Through the Ages in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

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Wednesday, October 28 @ 7:00 PM
WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES

Directed by Benjamin Christensen • 1922
Adapted by Antony Balch • 1968
Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 film Häxan is one of the more unclassifiable artifacts of the silent era—an illustrated art history slide show on the development of Satanism, mixed liberally with kinky reenactments of mystic rites. (If you thought Christensen brought anything less than total commitment to the material, you should know that the director reserved the plum role of the Devil for himself.) More than forty years after its initial release, Häxan was picked up by British distributor and beatnik gadfly Antony Balch, who recut the film and brought its droll grotesqueries up to date with the swinging sixties. Outfitted with narration from William S. Burroughs and a new jazz score from Daniel Humair (featuring Jean-Luc Ponty on violin!), Balch’s Witchcraft Through the Ages scandalized the small but vocal contingent of Scandinavian silent cinema purists. In the Village Voice Jonas Mekas offered a guarded recommendation for the “bastardized ‘English version’ prepared by a well meaning but obviously stupid young man, Antony Balch … Why did Burroughs participate in this barbarous act? Suppose we begin to mess with his novels. I wonder how he’d feel about it …” (KW)
76 min • Svensk Filmindustri • 35mm from Janus Films

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