DECEMBER: Speak of the Devil
- Hail Satan?
Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: Benjamin Christensen’s legendary silent film uses a series of dramatic vignettes to explore the scientific hypothesis that the witches of the Middle Ages and early modern era suffered from the same ills as psychiatric patients diagnosed with hysteria in the film’s own time. Far from a dry dissertation on the topic, the film itself is a witches’ brew of the scary, the gross, and the darkly humorous. Christensen’s mix-and-match approach to genre anticipates gothic horror, documentary re-creation and the essay film, making for an experience unlike anything else in the history of cinema. 97 years after it was first made, this ravishing cinematic concoction returns to the big screen in all its restored glory, having lost none of its jaw-dropping grotesqueness despite its centenarian status.