The Witches (1990 / 2020)

D: Nicolas Roeg
Warner Bros./Lorimar (Mark Shivas)
UK/US 1990
91 mins


W: Allan Scott [based on the novel by Roald Dahl]
DP: Harvey Harrison 
Ed: Tony Lawson
Mus: Stanley Myers

Anjelica Huston (Miss Ernst / Grand High Witch), Mai Zetterling (Helga Eveshim), Jasen Fisher (Luke Eveshim), Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Stringer), Jane Horrocks (Susan Irvine), Charlie Potter (Bruno Jenkins)

This adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book is probably as good as what could be made at the time and though certain aspects haven't dated well, this still makes a good children's film which is more likely to appeal to older children and young adults due to its dark fantasy element.
A small boy, on a seaside holiday with his grandmother, is transformed into a mouse by the leader of a witches' council and must foil their plot to poison all the children in Britain.
It's fair to say that it's probably scarier than it needs to be, and some bits may be a little too much for younger children or those with a nervous disposition, but this is still a very good adaptation of a classic book (which was a good scare in its own right) by one of Britain's most beloved and iconic authors. 
It's unfortunate that Dahl was unsatisfied with the film, and it performed quite poorly during its cinema run.

Angelica Huston in The Witches
Angelica Huston in The Witches


D: Robert Zemeckis

Warner Bros/Imagemovers/Necropia/Esperanto Filmoj/Double Dare You (Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron & Luke Kelly)

US/Mexico 2020

106 mins


W: Robert Zemeckis, Kenya Barris & Guillermo del Toro [based on the novel by Roald Dahl]

DP: Don Burgess

Ed: Jeremiah O’Driscoll

Mus: Alan Silvestri

Anne Hathaway (Grand High Witch), Octavia Spencer (The Grandmother), Stanley Tucci (R.J. Stringer), Jahzir Kareem Bruno (Hero Boy), Chris Rock (Older Hero), Codie-Lei Eastick (Bruno Jenkins)

I have no idea why a director like Robert Zemeckis would think it would be a good idea to tackle a remake of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, especially one which has the exact same plot as the 1990 movie, with little to no changes of the story and a cast for 2020.

The film does get relocated from England to America though, as a boy and his grandmother take a trip to a hotel where a group of witches turn up for their annual council, plotting to turn all children into mice.

There’s very little magic here, and it’s inferior to the 1990 film in every way, especially the CGI visual effects which will inevitably age worse than the physical effects from a film made 30 years prior.

Anne Hathaway is certainly miscast in her role and the film in general does a disservice to Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book.


Anne Hathaway in The Witches
Anne Hathaway in The Witches