We have passed July 4th here in the US, and it is the wind-up for the holiday season. Thankfully we get Halloween first, and it is my favorite holiday of the year. So with Halloween on the horizon, talk of vampires, ghosties, and, yes, witches are bound to increase. This article attests to that (as I giggle about it). I was fascinated by witches at a young age and eventually found my own magick. Now mind you, I haven’t watched every witch movie there is, but I have watched quite a few.
So, has the visual media portrayal of witches evolved over the past eighty years? The first two witches I remember seeing as a kid were the Wicked Witch of the East, Glinda, both from The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Witch Hazel from Looney Tunes. Two of the three witches were ugly and green. So, of course, when I dressed up as a witch for Halloween, I was dressed like the Wicked Witch of the West, complete with green skin. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have a picture of little Andie dressed like a witch. Even the witches in the Scooby-Doo cartoons were ugly, at first, such as the ghost of Witch McCoy and Madame Olga. They also weren’t on the side of good.
The Witches (1990 & 2020), a movie from the book of the same title by Roald Dahl, also portrayed witches as ugly and evil. They had skin suits so they could pass for humans. They wanted to eat kids. I really didn’t like the way they portrayed witches in this movie. These were probably the ugliest witches in all the movies I have watched. Again here, we are portrayed as evil.
Then there were the Warlock movies. As a child, I thought male witches were warlocks. Then I asked an actual witch. It turns out that male witches are called witches. Warlocks are thieves, liars, and betrayers. Or it is a braided lock of hair done before battle to store extra energy. When it is cut, the warrior is imbued with the stored energy so they can keep fighting. The warlock in the movies was indeed evil. He wasn’t ugly, but he was so evil.
The Craft (1996) was fantastic. At first, the witches seemed to be Wiccan which part of the spiritual path says that you harm none. However, when they got a taste of power, Nancy went off the deep end. Bonnie and Rochelle are followers, and since they were friends with Nancy before Sarah, they followed her. Plus, Nancy was more “fun”. Sarah, on the other hand, was generous with her gift. She did get a bit giddy with power but realized quickly she needed to be careful. So this movie has good and bad witches, and none of them are ugly. I really appreciated it.
One night, a friend invited my daughter and me over for a movie night. We watched a marathon of Witchcraft (1988). We watched all the way up to Witchcraft 666 (1994). The first one was decent, to my memory. The quality of the movies got worse with each film, but back to the witches. They were beautiful. Evil, but beautiful. The closer we get to it, so I think we are getting to a more balanced portrayal. If you want to check them out, they made one as recently as 2016. Ironically, it was the sixteenth movie in the series. To my memory, all the witches were evil again.
I do know that I am envious of the powers and spells of witches in Hollywood. I don’t think the powers that they possess have changed much over time. Our ability to show/see the magic has improved because of the special effects advances. One example is The Covenant. It is basically the male version of the craft. But the buildup of power and movement of that power was incredible.
I loved watching Charmed (1998). They were good witches fighting evil. They were beautiful and confident and kicked ass. It was my favorite way the screen showed witched at that time. I so badly wanted to be them.
There are so many movies about or with witches that I can’t address them all. Even though I haven’t watched them all, my list is pretty long too. We are still viewed sometimes as ugly hags, but today we also get to be beautiful. I am glad witches’ faces aren’t green anymore. We see powerful women and men who are both good and evil. We make mistakes like Scarlet Witch in Marvel’s Avengers series, but they are redeemable.
What do you think? Are witches viewed in a different light today? If you got to use magic like Hollywood witches, what would you do with it? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time, have fun storming the castle!