La Sorcière (Häxan / Die Blonde Hexe / The Blonde Witch, 1956)

Swedish Klubb Super 8 DVD edition

text below written 2020-08-11


A sadly forgotten but very impressive romantic drama tragedy where evil and darkness prevails over light and love. Until very recently i hadn't heard about

this Swedish-French 1956 co-production. After watching a couple of really great French crime noirs, as Jules Dassin's 1955 Rififi and Claude Sautet's 1960 Classe
tous risques, i was looking for some more french 1950's-1960's crime noirs and i found two i really wanted to see, both directed by Robert Hossein and both
with Marina Vlady (or Marina Catherine de Poliakoff-Baydaroff, born 1938) in them, his 1955 "Les Salauds vont en enfer" and 1958 "Toi ... le Venin".
Supposedly two great crime noir movies .... but, no DVD or BR copy had any english subtitles on them. However, this was how i heard about Marina Vlady
and this film, La Sorcière (Häxan). OK, looking for a disc to watch it i found few, but was happy to see that Swedish Klubb Super 8 had released it on a DVD
and many thanks to them for releasing a forgotten gem like this. I only found 2 releases of it, a US cellar public domain company DVD and then this disc.

This is a Great film if not any masterpiece due to a too abrupt ending, bad acting from the non-actor villagers and to unsure direction at times, BUT, the acting
from the main actors are very fine (and Ulf Palme and Naima Wifstrand were two of our greatest actors), 18-year old Vlady was a sight to behold and the atmo-
sphere of the almost mystical swedish woods were caught nicely by cinematographer Marcel Grignon. The story is based on a novel by russian Alexander Kuprin.
This unique film should absolutely be considered a Swedish classic and released on a prestige Blu-ray release you would think.

The Blonde Goddess of the Forest

Maurice Ronet and Marina Vlady

French engineer Laurent Brulard (Maurice Ronet) travels to Sweden and the wild forests of Dalarna to build a road, a work commissioned by a rich land-
owner, widow Kristina Lundgren (Nicole Courcel). He travels by air, bus, ferry and finally by horse and carriage to reach a small village deep in the big woods.
Kristina speaks remarkably fluid french but very poor swedish (well, she's a french actress after all) but later Marina Vlady's Aino/Ina actually speaks some
fine swedish and with the correct intonation too, impressive as she's also a french actress.
Brulard is met by the old engineer, Camoin, who's about to leave the place and he hates the swedes, and they him. Almost none speak french except Kristina,
the priest (Rune Lindström) and Matti (Ulf Palme) the foreman of the roadworkers.

The swedish villagers live in very old timber houses, and probably much too backwards for Sweden in the 1950's, but OK, it adds to the atmosphere of
isolation, backwardness and superstition. There's an interesting example of superstition that's for real though, at the roadwork when the workers won't
blast away a big stone blocking the direction of the road, because it's a "Troll stone". Ancient beliefs but i doubt any people in the 1950's believed in it.
The Nightingale is singing so we know that this film takes place sometime between May 15 - end of June, and probably in a remote part of Dalarna.

Naima Wifstrand's Maila and Vlady's Aino or Ina

But, even deeper into the forest (than the village) lives a blond goddess, Aino/Ina with her grandmother Maila (Wifstrand). The villagers think that
the old woman is a witch and that Aino is the daughter of Satan. Aino saves animals from traps, can make wounds heal and make other things
happen, and she thinks she's a witch too. She take nude dips in the lake, meets Brulard and they fall in love.
A nice happy couple, but the locals, including the boss Kristina Lundgren, don't like it at all. Lundgren is hot for Brulard herself and jealous of Aino/Ina
and she evicts old Maila from her cabin at the lake as she's the landowner. Then, the film builds up to a Feel Bad ending, and ends much too abruptly.

Some thoughts: A Great but sadly obscure film. Pretty well made with fine actors in all main parts. A bit mystical with wonderful atmosphere, and with
18-year old Marina Vlady as the blonde Goddess of the Forest.

However, about the superstitious villagers i highly doubt that a whole village of those existed in the 1950's, maybe if 300 years ago. Sweden were, and
is, one of the least religious and superstitious countries in the world. Regarding young Aino/Ina it's mentioned that she ran to her grandmother in the
woods when her parents died, but swedish authorities (then) wouldn't allow a kid to skip school, and she would've been put in a foster home or so.

The film is presented in 4:3 fullscreen, black & white, with French and Swedish spoken on the audio and with swedish, english or french subtitles.
Extras Deleted scenes, an image and poster gallery and some unrelated Klubb Super 8 trailers

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