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Sunday Night Movie Night: The Witches

If Stephen King is the master of horror, then Roald Dahl is the master of storytelling. I used to love this story and that’s why I chose this film for this week’s Sunday Night Movie Night:

the_witches
“I smell… doggy’s droppings!”

Synopsis: A young boy, Luke, loses his parents and thus lives with his grandmother, who tells him all about real witches. The grandmother comes down with what is called a “mild form of diabetes” and is recommended to spend some time at sea. She and Luke depart for a holiday in a special beach resort, where, coincidentally, the Grand High Witch has just arrived for her annual witch meeting in England. Luke and his grandmother accidentally find out the witches’ evil plan to turn all British children into mice, and take on the challenge of stopping them.

This movie lasts for about eighty minutes. That’s not very long, and so there is a high pace in which the story moves forward. It’s kind of a shame, because it’s a good, fun tale. Mister Dahl, like I said, was one of the best (if not the best) storytellers ever, so I am convinced they could have gotten more out of this movie. But maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on a film that’s clearly meant for a younger age group than the one I belong to.

I remember seeing it for the first time when I was around… what, ten? I was in school, and our teacher had finished reading us the book. Bit by bit, every week, the story was told. And it fascinated me, I loved it! So when we were set in front of a TV screen, I couldn’t help but love the film all the way through as well.

Eighteen years later I still loved it.

I LOVE THE GRAND HIGH WITCH! Omg, she’s über! Über funny, über evil, über well dressed, über everything! She’s so much into her role, I think she loved every second of playing this evil character, and it shows!
Apart from a few dozen evil witches (and I swear a few men who were badly dressed in order to resemble badly dressed women/witches), there was one good one. Typically, she walked around in white clothes instead of black, and she was nice enough to undo the evil spell Luke was under.

Why on earth she turned into a good witch is beyond my knowledge. Probably because she spent years being the Grand High Witch’s personal assistant/slave, and got so frustrated she decided to go do her own thing instead.
Or maybe she was so relieved she was spared from eating the poisoned soup in the final scene (in which all other witches literally get a taste of their own medicine), she had an epiphany and decided to become a good woman. Whatever reasons she had, they were not made very clear. So one can only guess.

Despite being short, this film did include some scenes that weren’t necessary. Why do we need to know Rowan Atkinson (aka the Hotel Owner) and one of his maids are having an affair? Or that said maid grows mouse hairs on places where she shouldn’t have dabbed herself with what she thought was perfume anyway (perfume she “borrowed” from a guest, who just happened to be the witch of all witches – talk about karma). It seems a bit like putting a lot of effort into creating redundant scenes, only to provide a small giggle (or to teach us stealing is wrong, even if you steal from a bad person).

After watching The Witches again there’s three things I conclude:

  1. I still love Roald Dahls’ stories, it’s like entering a different world when engaging his work
  2. I have GOT to get myself this book!
  3. Never let Rowan Atkinson run a hotel; no good can come of it! Period.

There’s not much else to say about The Witches. It’s a short movie, but it’s a good, nostalgic feeling that’ll creep over you.


Favourite scene:
The story begins with Luke and his parents visiting Luke’s grandmother in (I think) Norway, where she tells her grandson all about witches. She explains the ways to distinguish whether a normal looking woman is a witch or not; if their eyes have a purple glint, or they hold their noses when a child passes them in the streets, it’s a witch. Her shoes will be practical rather than beautiful, because a real witch has no toes and cannot wear pointy shoes. She’s also bald and wears a wig, but it causes skull rash and she’ll be itchy all the time.
Luke is semi-convinced these stories are real, until he’s moved to England with his grandmother (after his parents die) and he’s up in his tree house when a random woman starts to talk to him. She tries to lure the boy down with a pet snake and, when that fails, a bar of chocolate (well, that’s only logical, isn’t it?). But the moment she puts down her sunglasses and glances up at Luke he knows exactly what’s up:

the_witches_klein
Luke must have had pretty great glasses if he could spot the purple spark in her eyes from all the way up in his tree.

This is the one scene I never forgot. It had quite an impact on me as a child, for this is the moment me and my ten-year-old classmates, together with Luke, realized witches are real!

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