Top positive review
96 people found this helpful
Not Quite for Children, Not Quite for Adults
on October 4, 2000
"The Witches" is one of my favorite films. The film combines the substantial filmmaking talents of Nicholas Roeg with the wonderworking of Jim Henson and an unforgettable performance from Angelica Huston. Every time I watch this film, I find something new to like about it.
Since I have seen the film numerous times, I was a bit disappointed that the DVD did not contain any special features, such as a commentary from the filmmaker or one of the actors. Other than the most basic chapter selection, the DVD does not offer any of the bonuses that one would like to see. Fortunately, the film itself is so good that it is worthwhile to buy this disc in spite of the substandard packaging.
From the very beginning of the film, we are thrown into an imaginative world where witches reside in literally every small village and where no child is safe in any country. As the credits roll across the screen, Roeg treats us to a ride on a broomstick, to a witch's-eye view of the frozen Scandinavian countryside.
The film then introduces us to Luke and his grandmother, the protagonists of this tale. We learn that the grandmother has long been fighting the witches and even has lost part of her finger in the struggles. After tragedy strikes the young boy's parents, the pair travel to England, which is literally infested with witches. Fortunately, Luke has been well-warned how to recognize them and can play safely in his tree house when other children would be in grave peril.
The delicious irony compounds when the grandmother takes Luke to a seaside resort hotel for her convalescence. It is the precise time when all the witches of England are meeting under the cover of the Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In a closed-door session, the witches remove their wigs and uncomfortable, yet practical, shoes, letting us see them in all their repulsiveness. The Grand High Witch (played to perfection by Angelica Huston) reveals her plan to turn all the children of England into mice. Of course, the witch's plan goes astray, and tables are turned on all the witches in one of the most delightful scenes in all of modern cinema. Every time I watch it, I think to myself how much fun it would be to make a film like this one.
This is a charming, delightful film with enough diversions to keep children fascinated, told with enough skill to keep adults interested. It is a keeper, worth watching many times.