In Dreams Are Monsters: Häxan with live score by Nick Carlisle

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BBFC RatingIn Dreams Are Monsters: Häxan with live score by Nick Carlisle

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GenreDocumentary, Fantasy, Horror
Director(s)Benjamin Christensen
Writer(s)Benjamin Christensen
LanguageSwedish, Danish
CountrySweden, Denmark
Running Time1HR 45MINS
SeasonIn Dreams Are Monsters

This special event features a 100th anniversary screening of Häxan, the classic 1922 silent film written and directed by Benjamin Christensen, with a brand new QFT-commissioned score, composed and performed live by Nick Carlisle.

Supposedly intended as a moral education tool, Häxan instead is ripe, bawdy, and more than likely to give you sympathy for the devil. Director Benjamin Christiansen took the Malleus Maleficarum – the medieval witch finder’s handbook – and made a documentary on witches. Having it deliciously both ways, Christiansen’s film gives us incubuses seducing maidens, medieval torture devices and witches’ sabbaths, while also unpacking the myth of the witch as a tool of oppression. Full of sumptuous recreations – in brilliant red and blue filters – of witch burnings, goblin parties and ostentatious devilry, on its release Häxan was the most expensive Swedish film yet made. A phantasmagoria worthy of William Blake or Albrecht Durer, it’s guaranteed to make you look askance at a church gargoyle and see silent film in a new light.


Nick Carlisle is a composer, performer and producer based in Brighton, employing an array of mostly vintage analogue synthesisers and other keyboards such as the Mellotron as his palette. He is currently a member of the band Lean Logic, a collaboration with Rose Keeler-Schäffeler (Keel Her).

About the commission, Nick says:

"I was delighted to be asked to compose for this project. I previously played in a band called "Katy and Nick" which had quite a sinister feel, where Mellotron cellos and strangely medieval clarion calls inhabited a kind of fever dream space. So Häxan in many ways doesn't feel like such a foreign place to visit. I took the decision to keep only a loose eye on the sounds and styles I would use - there is the odd reference to the European shamanic Sámi drum, and the doomy Mellotron and synthesisers used are played in such a way to squeeze them more or less into a 15th Century timeframe. But in the main, since the film ultimately deals with the pitfalls of human ignorance and imagination, I relied on my own to lead the way, for better or worse.”

Nick will release highlights from the score as an album entitled “Häxan - A Soundtrack” - available exclusively from Bandcamp at midnight on 25 November 2022. You can pre-order the album here.

Screening as part of In Dreams Are Monsters: A Season of Horror Films, a UK-wide film season supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network.


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