Richard Baxstrom and Todd Meyers. Realizing the Witch: Science, Cinema, and the Mastery of the Invisible. 296pp., 64 b&w illus., filmography, bibl., index. New York: Fordham University Press, 2016. $95 (hardcover), $29.95 (paperback), $19.99 (e-book)
In Realizing the Witch, Richard Baxstrom and Todd Meyers attempt to analyze Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 film Häxan in its totality: as film, as historical and scientific treatise, and as anthropology. Häxan is Christensen’s cinematic attempt to present his thesis—that the witches of the sixteenth century represent the same psychological phenomenon as the hysterics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Baxstrom and Meyers’s book is structured into two parts and seven chapters, following the structure of the film itself. The two parts focus on the on-screen realization of the witch (Part 1) and on the links between the witch and modern psychiatric understandings as presented in the film (Part 2), but the authors explore all themes throughout the book.