This is a documentary discussing the portrayal of witches in Hollywood films. It's a straight shot to discussing feminism and female empowerment. It's a fascinating talk but I don't know any of the talking heads. That's what this needs. It needs to talk to somebody like Emma Watson or one of the girls from The Craft especially since they're highlighted in the progression. Watson certainly has plenty of opinions but this is a small film. At least, it's a short and compelling watch.
The Witches of Hollywood
Documentary / History
The Witches of Hollywood
Documentary / History
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Deciphers the archetype of the witch in Hollywood cinema from the 1930s to the present day and tells, behind it, a social story of female power. The Wizard of Oz, My Beloved Witch, Suspiria, The Craft, Maleficent - The portrayal of the witch on the screen oscillates between fascination and dread. She symbolizes the woman who does not fit into the norm: too old, too eager, too learned, too sexy. Drawing on numerous excerpts, the film questions what the witch says about each era and tells, in watermark, a social story of female power, often crushed, sometimes glorified.—Ulf Kjell Gür
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
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The Witching Hour.
Having found Cinema Red: Natives & Horror (2019-also reviewed) to be an interesting swift doc about Native Americans in Horror cinema,I was happy to spot the online Soho Horror Film Festival screening/streaming a doc about the history of Wicca and witches in Horror,leading to me meeting the witches of Hollywood.
View on the film:
Bubbling away for an hour, director Sophie Peyrard casts a lively spell which examines the depiction of witches and Wicca across the decades in film and TV, with great chosen clips from the likes of the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch to the remake of Suspiria.
Combining all the clips together, Peyrard interviews a number of academics and brings out fascinating detail on how the repulsion and fear of witches in Hollywood, represents a fear of women becoming increasingly liberated across the decades,from the spells which were cast on the silver screen.
Too unfocused to be academic
First of all, ignore the reviewer who claims this has something to do with Wicca, which is completely false. It sets out to discuss the witch as an archetype as portrayed on film and in tv shows and use that as a metaphor for changing views on women in general, feminism, and female empowerment. It's an interesting, quick watch but doesn't cover any real new ground if you are already familiar with the topic. However, I imagine it could give some younger women and perhaps men some new ideas, or even might just make them want to check out a movie they hadn't heard of. I suppose you could argue that Willow, the character from Buffy, called herself a Wiccan (she was not though) or that The Craft inspired many to become interested in Wicca. But that is the only connection you will find to the real life religion.
My biggest issue is that some of the movies mentioned had their plots twisted or flat out changed to fit the narrative the filmmaker was creating, a common complaint with documentaries. For example, in I Married A Witch, Veronica Lake did not start out seeking love, finding Frederic March. She was seeking revenge against the descendants of her past tormentor who killed her and her father. In Bell Book and Candle, Gillian was not tired of being a witch and looking to become human and fall in love - she wanted also revenge against a college rival whose engagement she wanted to break up. A clip from the movie was taken completely out of context to reinforce this change to the plot of the movie. It was the same presenter who was making these statements by the way, so I am not sure where the fault lies. But by radically changing the plots, they could then better fit into the documentary's thesis with no messy nuance or loose ends. Not to mention how they pick and choose which movies to include and which they skip over, again, since they might not fit the narrative.
If you watched this in vacuum, you could easily come away believing that prior to the late 60s, there were no other mentions of witches in movies at all beside the ones mentioned. At least once they get to the seventies, it's stated that many other movies were made that didn't get featured, but again it implied they all were of the same type, such as cheap horror movies in the seventies or more empowering movies like The Craft in the nineties.
They also state the very first witch of color on screen was in The Craft. I thought this strange since they even mention Tituba at one point, who certified showed up in many earlier movies/shows. I wished they explained why, for example, the craze in the seventies for voodoo-type practitioners was excluded. Or tarot card readers or psychics as further example. They include Rosemary's Baby and those are arguably satanists, not witches. What was the definition for witch that they were using anyway? There were certainly times in many movies where a magical practitioner was called a witch as a slur or just out of fear. So just being straight up called a witch could not have been the criteria for inclusion in the documentary.
It seems if you claim you are going to examine witches in Hollywood, you examine them all in all their guises and roles. Or else you are up front with the viewer and say you want to specifically show how feminism was depicted on screen specifically via the witch metaphor, and almost exclusively white feminism at that. How about discussing that most of these movies/shows where written or directed by men?
Again, this is good for a quickie, casual watch especially to get ideas for a new movie or show to watch. It's far too brief and unfocused to draw real conclusions on any academic level. Take it with a big grain of salt.