Witches Return

By: Daniel Céspedes Góngora

Conjuring, foreshadowing, and cursing were actions that poorly generalized witchcraft procedures. Many of those who came for the favors of healers, pimps, and necromancers then were unkistaked with the gratitudes of those who also prepared potions and ointments, medicinal components to heal and restore order; for witchcraft already named and feared, before the whispering of words or invocation in the form of ritual conjure, which worldly affirmations of supramor proclamation and after the cry for despair and even vengeance, was (and is) a concurrence of culture thanks to the learning of the external environment and human nature. In principle, with the desire to shelter before the world, human beings covered up their own uncertainty, when their distrust generated by the near and different, the mysterious complement represented by women, tricksting carnality, more impressive succubus if he wanted to (the) know.

A bridge between life and death, although associated, above all, with chaos-stimulating groups, witchcraft had to be controlled by finding, hunting and liquidating its faithful by the “irrepressible” test of being a practice native to Satan. There were hangings and burnings of witches and sorcerers for the historic Inquisition, which associated beliefs and practical knowledge as another heresy: “[…] the representation of the feminine nature prevailing in medieval and modern Christianity, which makes women an ideal animal to explain, in part, the violence of the repression of witchcraft until the seventeenth century”.1 However, with the passage of epochs and people, immortality will be won by those who have enchanted the social majority. Witchcraft didn’t die. He has survived by covering up in the less suspicious professions.

Many books are populated by literary and film witches… witches and sorcerers. And they are because in various ways they accompanied the human condition from their travels around the world. A tour consisting of more than one observing, longing, and attempting change –whether improvement, punishment, or death in the worst of the aftermath – that could determine the limits of a life(s). By earthly nonconformity and misery, together with the so-called magic-religious dose, humanity has already believed in other enchantments of existence.

Western culture has bequeathed us an ugly witch or at least too passing and false beauty. We grew up with the witches of the children’s stories “Hansel and Gretel”, “Snow White”, “Sleeping Beauty”, bequeathed not so much by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault, but by the Walt Disney Factory. Hans Christian Andersen also told us about witches in some of his stories, as in the classic “The Little Mermaid”. Cinema has taken advantage of literary references and, without plugging, has covered and prolonged the grotesque and evil Western witch as we know it. It is forgotten that in Greek mythology most witches were beautiful and held the category of goddesses. The cases of Circe and Medea are very representative.

The film witches I remember most are not those of Stardust: The Mystery of the Star (Matthew Vaughn, 2007) or Hansel and Gretel: witch hunters (Tommy Wirkola, 2013), but those of The Witches of Eastwick (George Miller, 1987) and the impressive Ones of The Witches (Nicolas Roeg, 1990), who are commanded by aristocrat Eva Ernst, the Great Witch, starring the great Anjelica Huston. This film has such unforgettable special effects that I now remember who was behind it: Master Jim Henson. For his feature film, Roeg took as a literary reference The Witches (1983), by the British writer Roald Dahl (1916-1990). When Dahl saw the film, he liked almost everything but the happy ending. It is said that he stood at the entrance of some cinemas with a loudspeaker to prevent them from watching the film. It is known that for a long time Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón wanted to make an adaptation in stop motion and more attached to the book.

The years passed and Del Toro and Cuarón decided to make their dream come true, but since production. They forgot about the stop motion animation for The Witches (2020), now directed by Robert Zemeckis and also written by him and Kenya Barris. If we take into account the work of the writers, where what they decided or did not consider of the book, the story is full of forced dialogues, which motivate their characters to move from one state to another implausiblely, without the viewer being convinced. Here I am not talking about human-to-mouse transformation, but about emotions, parliaments and psychology. At what time did the main child realize that he was not so fearful, but a leader with numerous initiatives to “I came up with the idea alone, dear grandmother”? When the child becomes a mouse, we are almost in the presence of another character. For its part, why does the cat look like a witch’s accessory and come to play an important role only when it is she uneded with it towards the end? As for the cat, when he looks out the window at Grandma (Octavia Spencer) and his grandson (Jahzir Bruno) and then go up and tell the Great Witch (Anne Hathaway), there’s too much left in the suggestions the assumption. Does the feline warn its owner that a witch-connoisseur resides above his room? Presumably. However, suspicion stays and dies in those minutes. A couple more experiences have to happen for the witch to associate the lady with that other girl of yesteryear turned hen. The detail corresponds to the script and it is very careless in how to structure the progress of the plot. Visually it’s an enjoyable film, although the atmosphere may have been darker to evoke the creepy. However, as it is also comedy, the director opted for that laving luminosity. This allows special effects to be better appreciated.

Witches have the main dish of their cast. But he gets little out of Stanley Tucci and Octavia Spencer. The daysi/Mary white mouse (Kristin Chenoweth) rivals on-screen with Anne Hathaway’s histrionics. It’s more of amusing and creepy time than a balanced set. Its ending is very fast, almost throwing you in the face that the story will follow. However, it works as a film for the whole family. Ω




[1] Paul Mengal: Erotic melancholy and hysteria, in eidos, Journal of Philosophy of the Universidad del Norte, Ediciones Uninorte, August, 20003, Colombia, pp.111-127.

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