This Film Is 100 Years Old

Go West (1923)

Go West is a 1923 silent comedy short, directed by Len Powers and featuring some chimps dressed up as people, albeit people with fake tails, as was the style at the time.

A father throws his useless wastrel son out of the house, so he hitches a ride on the railroad out west, holds up a clothes store, then gets lynched for his crime.

It’s quite the tale to tell in just under twelve minutes.

Luckily at the end it was all a dream, and the feckless young chimp man can go back to being a useless old drunk once again.



1. I watched this on blu-ray, and took the screenshots from this essentially version on youtube.

2. Not to be confused with the 1925 Buster Keaton film of the same name.

3. Even though I only saw it because it was included as an extra with the 1925 Buster Keaton film of the same name.

4. Like all things with animals dressed up as humans, this was deeply unsettling and upsetting in almost every way.

5. Although the dog sheriff at least looked like he was having fun.


Film Information

Title: Go West
Year: 1923
Director: Len Powers
Duration: 12 minutes
Watch: youtube

This Film Is 100 Years Old

Haxan (1922)

Haxan is a 1922 documentary directed by Benjamin Christensen that explores and depicts the history of witchcraft and witch hunts in the middle ages.

Using various devices such as stills of medieval woodcuts and manuscripts, dramatisations of actual events, recreations of recollections, stop motion animations, and some pretty lurid sex and nudity (by 1920s standards, at least), Haxan isn’t so much a documentary as a near two hour nightmare, surprisingly unsettling in many ways, not least the wholly demented behaviour of the witch-hunting clerics and monks.

This was banned on release across a lot of Europe, and in America too, just as much for it having the temerity to portray the church as absurdly evil as for its nudity and naughtiness (there’s a wonderful scene of the witches all giving Satan a surprisingly chaste kiss on the arse).

Even a hundred years later there’s still a strange, mesmerising power to its imagery, the ferocity of the performances and the sheer strange delight in some of the black mass scenes that’s kind of unsettling, a weird energy that’s impossible to ignore.

The final section, where it contrasts witch hunt mania to 20th century psychiatric diagnoses of female hysteria, feels startlingly modern, too, after all that’s gone before, and ends the film on a fittingly upsetting note.



1. I watched this on an old Tartan Video DVD.

2. Which contained two versions – the original 1922 version, with Danish intertitles (basically this youtube version that I took the screenshots from), and various different soundtracks (included what supposedly was the original score from its premiere), and a 1968 American re-edited version called Witchcraft Through The Ages, with a William Burroughs narration and a wonderfully demented 60s jazz soundtrack.

3. I hadn’t seen that version before and it was wonderful, especially the nice stark black and white look, which I like a lot more than the red tinting on the majority of the 1922 version.

4. And William Burroughs has the best voice. He really does.

5. Anyway I’d seen this a couple of times before.

6. Once was the original version on Film Four a few years back.

7. And the other time was about ten years ago in a pub in Chelmsford, where a textless edit of the film was being projected onto a sheet while a very loud band played a live soundtrack to it very loudly.

8. Which was wonderful obviously

9. I have no idea who the band were I’m afraid.

10. They sounded quite a lot like Earth

11. But they were not Earth.


Film Information

Title: Haxan
Director: Benjamin Christensen
Year: 1922
Duration: 1 hour 46 minutes
Watch: youtube; Mark Kermode BFI Intro