Elements that “The Witches” should take from the 1990 Film

The Witches came out this Thursday. Here are some elements from the original 1990 film we hope to see in the new movie.

“The Witches” has come out Oct. 22 as yet another film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel. The 2020 adaptation has its work cut out for it when trying to expand the story and attract new audiences.

Fans of the 1990 film may be hesitant to open their arms for another readaptation due to the original film being a masterpiece. These six elements of the original adaptation are key to paying homage the right way and would truly push the new movie over the top.

  1. It must keep women in powerful, progressive roles:

One of the things that made the 1990 film iconic was the heavy, feminine presence. Both the antagonistic forces — like the coven and great witch — and the protagonistic force — Luke’s grandma — were treated as forces to be reckoned with. Nobody was the damsel in distress or other cliches. Each side of the coin had their own special power chain. The coven carried themselves in a governmental fashion with rules and regulations. Luke’s grandma and the children acted as an anarchy in the witches’ game. In the 2020 adaptation, there should be greater emphasis on challenging female characters to be more than feminine or average.

  1. The Grand High Witch needs to be “Grand”:

The Grand Chancellor is the most important witch in the film. She is intelligent, cunning and bewitching. Anjelica Huston’s portrayal is unmatched in the 1990 film. All of her scenes are hypnotizing, because she does not hold back in passion nor seductively. Her plans and the way she reigns in her band of witches show the extent of her true power. There is no doubt who the boss is, and her wiles are truly entertaining. In order to hold a candle to Huston’s role, Anne Hathaway needs to pull all of the stops; her seductivity, accent power and character needs to be over-the-top to truly pull this off.

  1. The witches must still be evil and mischievous:

The great thing about the witches in the 1990 film was the fact that they were undeniably evil and mischievous without heavily relying on magic. They had other clever ways to intimidate and spark fear — such as flashing their purple eyes, hypnotizing animals and crowding victims. They had no limits and went to extremes to get what they wanted. In one scene, the Great Witch goes as far as pushing a baby in its carriage down a hill to lure her victim out of his hiding spot. To be loyal to the original film, the new adaptation should keep this in mind.

  1. Themes like “stranger danger” should still be included:

“Stranger danger” was a significant part of the 1990 film. The witches took on clear roles as predators. Their behaviors were realistic and shared similarities with real-life predators. They approached children who were playing by themselves, used devices to lure them and portrayed themselves as friendly and trustworthy. Despite “The Witches” being a kids’ film, it did not shy away from incorporating important, underlying messages from the missing children crisis in the 80s and 90s. The great thing about kids movies from the 80’s and 90’s were the underlying PSAs and true life lessons kids could take from the film. “The Witches” (2020) should incorporate these messages into the new film as well.

  1. It must respect the original material:

Roald Dahl created and wrote “The Witches” novel in 1983. Dahl is popular for his stories like “Matilda” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” that have reached worldwide appreciation. However, he was a controversial figure who has received backlash for offensive and unacceptable themes in his books. Unfortunately, the backlash has reached “The Witches” because of underlying themes of anti-semitism in the novel. The 1990 film did pay homage and incorporated the story of the book; however, the film did not incorporate anti-semitism. As good as it is to be faithful to the original and give respect to creators, film adaptations of stories with controversial authors should not be afraid to alter the story out of respect for viewers. The 2020 film should be like the 1990 film in that way.

  1. Cameo me!:

The final element that would truly push the 2020 film over the top would be a star cameo from the original 1990 film. Regardless if they are brought back as an irrelevant background character or an underlying figure in the scheme, the presence of one of the original characters would be enjoyable. Bring back one of the kids, Rowan Atkinson or the amazing Anjelica. Fans of Anjelica Huston would be thrilled if she came back whether it be in a discussion or recovery of her 1990 role as a witch. The options are limitless. A cameo would be a treat for the fans and would debatably win many fans over even if the 2020 film went in a different direction.

Fans of older film adaptations may have a hard time accepting the trend of recycling and restoring old films for modern audiences. Most of the time sequels and reboots cause divisions among fans or fail miserably; however, reviving older classics can be a good thing. The connection fans had with the originals can be shared with new audiences with the new adaptation. These fresh takes on films also inspire new viewers to see the original. “The Witches” may be a new adaptation, but there is promise and opportunities for this to be a great thing.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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