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The Witches are back...

Anything inspired by Roald Dahl, I’m there. Robert Zemeckis, Guillermo del Toro and Kenya Barris have written the screenplay to this 2020 re-adaption of Dahl’s classic 1983 children’s novel, The Witches.

If you are unaware The Witches is a children’s novel about a young British boy and his Grandmother who discover there are secret societies of child-hating witches existing in every country, the two take it upon themselves to face the witches and everything goes downhill from there. Of course, as usual Hollywood re-imagines the narrative to now follow a young American boy and his Grandmother… which shouldn’t make a single difference to the narrative but also, why change it? Being British I see Roald Dahl as a cherished British writer but then again, several other adaptions of his novels have had the same detail changed, Mathilda (1996) and Fantastic Mr.Fox (2009) for example… Regardless, the only accent that really matters is the Grand High Witch, she is described by Dahl to have a heavy foreign accent and it is also implied that he may originate from Germany. Anne Hathaway is not particularly known for her amazing accents but from the trailer it looks like she is trying hard to achieve a similar accent and style to Anjelica Huston’s in the 1990 adaption, which I personally think is spot on.

Being a 90’s baby I am very familiar with the 1990 adaption of The Witches staring Anjelica Huston. As a child the novel used to scare me but when Anjelica Huston ripped off her wig and pulled off her face, well, that terrified me. What I love about the 90s adaption is the how unapologetically ugly, grotesque and disturbing the witches really are underneath their disguises. I was scared of the witches as a child and I really hope the intention to scare children is reimagined in the new re-adaption. In the trailer Anne Hathaway’s Grand High Witch is beautiful from the outside, as she should be. From trailers and snippets of footage from the movie we only seem to see the grand high witch bald , levitating and with a joker style long smile with razor teeth, no prosthetics, exaggerated features, long fingers or wig sores just bald heads and some CGI facial features. I wouldn’t describe the new 2020 witches as scary or grotesque but instead I would describe them as a little creepy. I’m assuming they are keeping the grand reveal moments a secret until we get to actually see the movie, I hope anyway. I am truly hopeful that the witches are not too pretty and that they show another layer under their skin, they are evil after all. When looking back at the 90s version, the grand high witch was a disgusting, almost zombie looking and horrendous to look at, that is my exception and I want it exceeded. We can hope that Guillermo del Toro upkeeps his iconic style by adding in some scary or potentially gruesome scenes of the witches unmasking themselves, again, I hope. I rate del Toro very highly as a conceptualist, all of the movies of his I have seen have been spectacular and especially creepy… which is why I can assume his dark style will be incorporated into this movie pretty easily.

I am sceptical of this movie as I am such a fan of the 90s version, it is about time for a new adaption but then again it has very large shoes to fill. My primary issue is defiantly down to The Grand High Witch and Hathaway’s interpretation, I think if her performance isn’t unique enough and doesn’t stand out from Anjelica Huston’s this movie will not be successful in my books. I hate to judge a movie poorly before even seeing it but when you love a movie its hard not to. I am staying optimistic though and I am excited to see the movie, I’m especially excited to see Octavia Spencer as the grandmother, she is a very lovable actress and I look forward to seeing her adaption of the feisty, clever and wise character. Also, and interested edition to the cast is Chris Rock, he appears to be narrating the narrative as it plays out, as though he is telling his story to us, like he is reading the book. I think the addition of narration is very interesting and adds a new layer to the story, maybe we get to see his older self in the present and maybe we get to see the witches in the present day, there are plenty of opportunities.

To conclude, this movie has been highly anticipated by a lot of Roald Dahl fans, I really hope the movie lives up to everyones expectations, mine included. I am intrigued to see if they add anything new to the narrative and I am interested to see Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, although if her performance falls flat I will be incredibly disappointed. Are you a fan of the witches? Do you think Hathaway will do a good job of the role?


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Welcome to Film Probe, a platform where I have dedicated my time and energies to reviewing films, tv and more. I pride myself on offering more than just an opinion, but rather a carefully crafted insight into the film's themes, characters, and overall production.

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