IASH Documentary Series 2017


(1922, cut to 120 mins)

Written & Directed by: Benjamin Christensen

This classic Swedish/Danish documentary silent film is one of the first documentary films ever made! It mixes horror tropes, fictional enactment and historical interpretation of 15th century understandings of witch-hunts and social hysteria. Based primarily on Heinrich Kramer’s Malleus Maleficarum (1487), Christensen’s cinematic study performs a form of retroactive psychiatric diagnosis of historical spiritual beliefs, and thus reveals as much about early twentieth-century conceptions of mental illness as it teaches us about early modern witchcraft.

Additionally, the film is interesting to view from the perspective of early documentary film making, especially as it developed in the Scandinavian and German tradition. Its continual bridging and slippage between factual and fictional genres is a fascinating example of the formative development of Western cinematic organisations of narrative, imagination and knowledge.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Dr Karin Sellberg (IASH), Dr Charlotte-Rose Millar (IASH), Professor Philip Almond (IASH) and Brendan Walsh (IASH) – with plenty of opportunity for Q&A with the audience.

4.00pm Monday 14 September
Seminar Room 402, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower, UQ


Seminar Room, Level 4 Forgan Smith Tower (Building #1)