In 2022 Queen’s Film Theatre Belfast commissioned Nick Carlisle to create a new score for the Benjamin Christensen film Häxan, on its centenary. Performed alone by Nick on Prophet 5 synthesizer, Mellotron & MacBook Pro, the score received a rapturous response following its premiere as part of the In Dreams Are Monsters season of horror films. More “Häxan With Live Score By Nick Carlisle” performances are planned for 2023-24. An album of highlights, “Häxan – A Soundtrack” was released November 2022, available digital / CD formats.
Supposedly intended as a moral education tool, Häxan instead is ripe, bawdy, and more than likely to give you sympathy for the devil. Director Benjamin Christiansen took the Malleus Maleficarum – the medieval witch finder’s handbook – and made a documentary on witches. Having it deliciously both ways, Christiansen’s film gives us incubuses seducing maidens, medieval torture devices and witches’ sabbaths, while also unpacking the myth of the witch as a tool of oppression. Full of sumptuous recreations – in brilliant red and blue filters – of witch burnings, goblin parties and ostentatious devilry, on its release Häxan was the most expensive Swedish film yet made. A phantasmagoria worthy of William Blake or Albrecht Durer, it’s guaranteed to make you look askance at a church gargoyle and see silent film in a new light.
“I was delighted to be asked to compose for this project. I previously played in a band called ‘Katy and Nick’ which had quite a sinister feel, where Mellotron cellos and strangely medieval clarion calls inhabited a kind of fever dream space. So Häxan in many ways doesn’t feel like such a foreign place to visit. I took the decision to keep only a loose eye on the sounds and styles I would use; there is the odd reference to the European shamanic Sámi drum, and the doomy Mellotron and synthesisers used are played in such a way to squeeze them more or less into a 15th Century timeframe. But in the main, since the film ultimately deals with the pitfalls of human ignorance and imagination, I relied on my own to lead the way, for better or worse.” – Nick
More “Häxan With Live Score By Nick Carlisle” performances are scheduled for 2023-24. Nick returned to Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast and made his debut at the Ulster Folk Museum Picture House, Holywood for a sold out performance. A date was added at the Barbican Centre in London on 28th January 2024 which quickly sold out so a second performance was added for the same day, which also sold out in 48 hours.
See all currently scheduled performance dates
Background Häxan image © AB Svensk Filmindustri (1922) Photo: Johan Ankerstjerne