Haxan Live

A live performance of Haxan

The Witchcraft and Vagrancy Act perform a live soundtrack to the silent horror classic, Haxan. T.W.A.V.A. have composed a soundtrack based on subverting the traditional British folk canon and its instrumentation, working to create a live folk horror experience. T.W.A.V.A. have constructed an abbreviated, one-hour edit of Haxan, to be presented alongside the new soundtrack as part of an immersive cinema experience - featuring new intertitle designs, recreations of medieval woodprints, and broadside penny sheets.

Haxan Live Promo

For Haxan Live, T.W.A.V.A. have taken inspiration from British broadside ballads, recreating their display and setting to simulate their medieval performance and dual function as news sources. The soundtrack combines original compositions with a small selection from the traditional folk canon. Primarily, the ballad, “Witchcraft Discovered and Punished,” provides the foundational inspiration for much of T.W.A.V.A.'s soundtrack and edit for Haxan Live.

An accordian song being performed live at a Haxan event

Haxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages

Haxan is a 1922 silent film essay by Benjamin Christensen. Christensen (who also plays the Devil) detailed the horrors of European witch hunts in the Middle Ages. Haxan originally featured a score comprised of well-known classical music pieces, and upon its release was somewhat panned. However, since then, Haxan has garnered a substantial cult following and is now considered by many to be the first ever folk horror movie.

Between narration and illustrations, Christensen included several disjointed dramatisations which depict characters practicing magic and being accused of witchcraft in an unspecified medieval village. These sequences have been edited into a single narrative to match the plot of the ballad, “Witchcraft Discovered and Punished,” for The Witchcraft and Vagrancy Act's Haxan Live.

The venue in which Haxan Live was first performed

The Witch Sabbath Set - Haxan Live

Lulle Me Beyond Thee (Trad.) / The Witch Jig (R. Craig) / Sabbath Jig (R. Craig)

A picture showing one of the film's new title cards

Traditional Material

Witchcraft Discovered and Punished

British broadside ballad, first published in London in 1682. It is a true account of three people accused and found guilty of witchcraft in Exeter, Devon. Set to the tune of “Fortune My Foe.”

Fortune My Foe

Ballad tune composed circa 1565. Originally composed for the ballad “Doctor Faustus.” Subsequently used for many ballads concerning murder and witchcraft. Eventually became colloquially known as the “Hanging Tune” and would often be performed before public executions.

Lulle Me Beyond Thee

Popular English country jig, first published in 1686. Robert Burns later used the tune for the song “Craigieburn Wood.”

A recreation of a 'penny sheet' on which songs were sold

Woodprint Paintings

  • Detail from “Witchcraft Discovered and Punished,” 1682.
  • Circle Dance from “The History of Witches and Wizards,” 1720.
  • Sabbath Feast from The History of Witches and Wizards,” 1720.
  • “Osculum Infame” (“Kiss of Shame”) from R. P. Guaccius's “Compendium Maleficarum,” 1606.
  • Disrespecting the Crucifix, from R. P. Guaccius's “Compendium Maleficarum,” 1606.
  • “The End and Last Confession of Agnes Waterhouse,” a trial pamphlet from 1566.
A modern woodprint painting
Another modern woodprint painting
A poster for the live Haxan event