on 3 January 2006
The Witches is an enjoyable but scary story about, well, Witches, and one boy's adventures in getting rid of them all. It is normal Dahl stuff - slightly dark, with lots of frighteningly real characters, a great plot and more than a little humour.
However, for those familar with the book or Simon Callow's excellent audiobook, you quickly realise something is slightly amiss with the potion used to create the DVD - and this starts when Luke opens his mouth.
On the whole it sticks faithfully to the book but misses out some important and interesting details (an example being the ancient ones - probably too politically unacceptable for Warner Bros). The biggest departure from the book comes at the end, where more than a drop of "happily ever after" potion was added to the brew.
The Grand High Witch is indeed horrible and her consort of English witches a jolly mixture of revolting, incredible and ridiculous. True Dahl characters. Luke and his Grandmother are believable and Rowan Atkinson is enjoyable as the Fawlty-esque hotel owner.
Overall, very enjoyable and certainly frightening enough for our five year old, who still brings up witches every night before bed, three days after watching it. If you enjoy Roald Dahl, you will enjoy this - but sit close to your little ones when the witches remove their human faces.
on 30 June 2006
Recently at the school I work at they had this as their home-time story, which led me - a life-long Dahl fan - to re-read both The Witches and Matilda, my favourite Dahl books (as well as Danny the Champion of the World), and rent the movies.
It's said that Roald Dahl, by then close to the end of his life, cried when he saw this film of one of his best books (god knows what he might have thought of "Matilda"!). However for once I couldn't disagree with his assessment more - the film is richly comic, frighteningly fantastic and despite the fact that Luke has become an American kid (while all the rest of the characters are Norwegian or British - it would have been more believeable had Luke been English too as he was in the book), Jim Henson's puppetry adds the icing on the cake, the mice looking like proper mice as far as possible rather than too cartoonish, and the hideous vision of the Grand High Witch without her mask is enough to give every sensitive child nightmares. It appears that a lot of the film was shot on location, even the indoor scenes, lending it a fresh, exciting air.
Anjelica Huston, despite her tacky Eastern-European-cum-German accent which is never quite believeable, and Jane Horrocks (playing Jane Horrocks as always :-) although the wig is actually scarier than when she takes it off!) are tantalisingly witchy, and although her name escapes me, the lady who plays Luke's Norwegian grandmother - of course Dahl's parents were both Norwegian, so it is logical that the Land of the Midnight Sun should feature so prominently, and it is rendered in an incredibly vivid way - is a wonderful "bestemama" for Luke, the kind of granny all of us dream of having as children (though I'm happy to say my granny is wonderful without smoking cigars or giving me white mice as pets!). Rowan Atkinson and his clumsy hotel staff are all-too-believable. The added twist with Horrocks' character is ironed in to the main Dahl narrative with a minimum of fuss; it is not simply grafted onto the story without some verisimilitude.
The ending of the book, while in keeping with Dahl's understated climaxes, would have looked dull on film, and on balance I would have to say that I agree with the decision to "Disneyfy" it - only really because the rest of the movie is so tragicomically funny that we can relax in the Jim Henson team's capable hands. It's a really good watch for adults too, and like Dahl's books themselves, it treats children as intelligent human beings in their own right, with wonderful (and accurate) glimpses of another European culture and a powerful supporting cast (Bruno's parents run away with their scenes - as does the chambermaid with her ill-advised cosmetic treatment!). Recommended for all ages.
Adapted from the book "The Witches" by Roald Dahl, comes this delightfully wicked but entertaining and enjoyable fantasy adventure film.
Roald Dahl gave us so many brilliant books, many have given rise to film adaption's such as Matilda, and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. All of his books have his own unique style and magic, and The Witches has always been one of my favourite Dahl stories. I'm glad to say that despite been somewhat different to his book at times, this film adaptation is nothing less than brilliant.
A young boy called Luke (played by Jasen Fisher) is taken by his Grandmother to England after his parents are in a car crash. His Grandmother starts to tell him stories of Witches, their powers, how they find or rather smell children, and more importantly how he can spot them. She also tells him the story of her childhood friend Erica, who fell victim to a Witch. Soon after this, while playing in his tree house he is approached by a woman, thanks to his Grandmother he quickly recognises the trademark purple eyes of a witch and escapes. On his birthday Luke's Grandmother falls ill, and her doctor recommends a holiday to recover. Soon they both arrive at a seaside hotel where he and another boy called Bruno discover somewhat to their own misfortune that the hotel is not only crawling with Witches, but that Grand High Witch herself is there. She has an evil plan involving "Formula 86" to turn all of the children in the world in to mice. It's all up to Luke, his Grandmother, and Bruno to stop them.
The film has a great plot, that's naturally backed up by a wonderful script and brilliant characters. Rowan Atkinson plays a convincing if somewhat different role than what we would normally associate with him, as the hotel manager. Anjelica Huston was great as the Grand High Witch, and was the perfect casting choice. Acting from all other's in the main cast is pretty much brilliant. The character of Bruno in the film does come off as being perhaps a bit too whinny and at times it seems unnatural, but his snobbish parents are brilliantly played, and they have some great scenes together. Luke and his Grandmother have a plausible enough relationship on screen and work well together in their attempt to defeat the witches.
The witches in the film are amazing. When they all start to remove their masks, wigs, and shoes, you'll be disgusted at the creatures beneath it all, while at the same time appreciating the wonderful make-up and attention to detail. I liked the ironic that the witches were using the Royal Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Children charity as a smoke screen. The mice (or were they actually rat's) in the film are great, they were wonderful to watch running around the hotel, under carpets, in elevators, around a kitchen, and so forth.
The film contains everything from humour, action, to scares, and some horror, making it appeal to both children and adults alike.
There are no special features at all on the DVD which was disappointing. In the case of this film I would have loved a behind the scenes look at how they created the Witches. Perhaps one day we will get a Special Edition release of this film with such, until then I'm perfectly happy to enjoy the film for what it offers.
Despite its parental guidance rating, the film is quite fighting at times. The Witches could easily scare, and some scenes such as one near the ending may be a bit too much for some. So I would advice caution if allowing younger children to watch. But overall definitely a film that's worth watching.
on 22 July 2002
In my opinon, The witches has to be the best out of all the films that are based on Roald Dahl's books. Most of the other movies on his books are quite dissapointing, but not this. This will send a chill down your spine. I suggest that children under 8 should not see this film, as several scenes could upset younger children, but it is really worth watching!
on 18 December 2003
I am a big Anjelica Huston fan anyway-but this is my favourite film ever. Anjelica (grand high witch) is absolutely brilliant as well as the rest of the cast.It is a great film for all the family, but possibly not very young children. If you're like me and an Anjelica Huston fan or you're a fan of rold dahl's books- you'll definately enjoy this film.
on 11 November 2001
A brilliant and thrilling film, which you daren't leave incase you miss a crucial bit. It can be a bit upsetting for younger children, as children are turned in mice in a very dramatic way, but Roald Dahl fans will enjoy
on 17 March 2016
The original film and in seemingly uncut format, the kids love it and of course for adults brings back memories of Jim Henson puppetry. The kids ask loads of questions on how it was actually made, but also more faithful to the orignal book and the keeping the withces fairly horrible - a good watch.
'The Witches' was a childhood favourite of mine, and it still entertains me even now. One of the things that strikes me today is how dark it actually is, and the Witches, whose aim in life is to rid the world of children, speak about the kids as though they are the vilest things on the planet, they really do hate them! But nevertheless, it's an interesting story and very funny in parts, but what else would you expect from a movie based on a Roald Dahl book?
During a holiday at his cigar-smoking grandmothers' house, young Luke's head is filled with stories about witches by her, what they look like, what they wear, and what their motives and ways are. When he stumbles across a witches' convention, he overhears their plans and knows that he must stop them, even when they turn him into a mouse.
With strong acting, including a straight part from Rowan Atkinson, nice settings, and amazing special effects (especially for 1990), 'The Witches' is a great fantasy movie. Perhaps it's a little too dark and scary for the very young, but if you're kids are over five, they should lap it up, I'm 22, and I still do.
Note: The DVD is very basic with no special features.
on 18 February 2001
It's great! Buy it! It is a story where Luke has to get rid of these witches who are having a big convention in a grand posh hotel, where Luke is. It brings the child out of you(isn't hard for me!) The acting is supurb, and I don't think I have any faults towards the film.
on 22 April 2010
After learning about the Rhald Dhal book The Witches in school my daughter begged me to buy the DVD. I reluctantly agreed thinking it would never be as good as the book. Well I was wrong! I love the book but the film is fabulous, not too scary but at the same time keeping the Spooky feel of the book. Ok some bits have been altered for the sake of "disney-fieing" it but it is a good film. Now kept high up on the dvd rack as it is one of my 8year olds favourites!