Benjamin Christensen obviously felt some degree of passion about Blind Justice, having written, directed and starred in it. However, you’ve probably never heard of this 1916 silent film. It’s not that it’s a terrible film (at least not in my opinion), but it certainly isn’t carried mostly by style, or even by its performances (not to say it lacks these qualities). This is the rare movie that’s animated chiefly by its core concepts. Its main antagonist, “Strong John” (Christensen) is barely a villain at all. In fact, he appears to be rather innocent until he is betrayed and years later decides upon revenge.
After watching this one on Youtube, I had to research it a bit more. Frankly, there isn’t that much information available on it, but other reviews (like this one) have noted its similarity to (and possible influence on) filmmakers such as F. W. Murnau, James Whale, Alfred Hitchcock, and John Carpenter. While those influences may not be entirely accurate, there are nonetheless similarities. In fact, I couldn’t help but compare some themes to those found in Cape Fear. Strong John definitely ends up antagonizing his characters, due to losing his son during his time in prison. He ends up going after the affluent family who turned him in. Well, doesn’t that indeed sound like Cape Fear?
You can watch Blind Justice right here:
Who Was Benjamin Christensen?
Benjamin Christensen was a Danish film director, screenwriter, and actor. He is perhaps best known for directing Häxan, AKA Witchcraft Through the Ages. Similar to Blind Justice, that film addresses ignorance, misunderstanding, judgment, and superstition leading to negative consequences. In Blind Justice, those consequences include false imprisonment and a convict’s revenge. In Häxan, it’s said to be about confusing mental illness with witchcraft, satanism, and who knows what else! (For the record, I have not watched Häxan yet, but it’s on my to-do list).
Christensen didn’t solely direct horror films, but his output does include a horror trilogy for Warner Bros.: The Haunted House (1928), Seven Footprints to Satan (1929) and House of Horror (1929). Interestingly, although some of his films were a success and he worked for some well-known movie houses, he ultimately quit filmmaking. Instead, Christensen is said to have managed a movie theater in Copenhagen.
Adding to his relative obscurity, some of his films — including even his Warner Bros. ones — are considered at least partially lost, if not completely. While Christensen has a mixed-bag reputation, one should remember that even Hitchcock had some lesser films (though that depends on who you ask).
Oh, and here is Häxan, often considered his ultimate film as a director:
What are your thoughts on Blind Justice, Benjamin Christensen, and Häxan? Let us know in the comments!