In addition to Nosferatu (1922), Häxan is one of the most moving films of the silent era. Shot in a documentary style with reenactments to illustrate it's points, Häxan is a profoundly moving and sometimes disturbing chronicle of witchcraft during the Middle Ages. This Danish film is lovingly restored in The Criterion Collection which I rented through Netflix. The clarity of this film is amazing for one produced so early. It is a visual delight. Chapter One gets off to a slow start but stick with it and you will be rewarded when Chapter Two kicks in. The visuals alone are quite striking, mixing black humor with creative costuming. To be honest, I've never seen anything quite like it. It truly is a unique cinematic experience.
Häxan is a marvelous study in human nature. It explores how we react to things we fear as well as how we treat people who are perceived as different than us. Be it Jews, gays, or in this case, witches, the story is basically the same. I'm surprised I never heard of this film until I came a across a reference to it in a book entitled "Horror! 333 Films to Scare You to Death." The fact that this film is largely unknown is a tragedy. Do not miss it! Even if you're not a fan of silent films, this one is quite special and I'm glad someone took the time to lovingly restore and preserve it for future generations to enjoy. It is a brutally honest look at human nature that will make you squirm in your seat more than your average slasher flick. The DVD also includes the hipster version that was done by William S. Burroughs in 1968. It has its own merits and might be the best choice for those who have no patience for subtitles!
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.