You’d be forgiven for not noticing that a remake of The Witches was even released, seeing as the star-studded new version of Roald Dahl’s classic novel was pulled from the theatrical schedule and dropped quietly onto HBO Max with very little fanfare over two and a half weeks ago, which seems incredible given the talent involved.
The movie hails from Academy Award winning Forrest Gump and Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis, two-time Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro co-wrote the script and acted as one of the producers along with four-time Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron, which is a mind-boggling array of talent assembled for a run of the mill PG-rated family film.
The star power in front of the camera is just as impressive, too, with Academy Award winners Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer taking the two lead roles, and Stanley Tucci lending support. Despite all that, The Witches has largely been dismissed by critics and currently holds a bang average Rotten Tomatoes score of 50% as well as being ignored by audiences. Not only that, but the literary adaptation is now coming under fire from disability groups.
When the titular coven reveal their true forms, they only have three fingers on their misshapen talons, and limb difference advocates have accused The Witches of depicting the genetic condition as something negative that people should be afraid of. Warner Bros. have already apologized, and now Hathaway has released a statement of her own which you can read below.
“I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in The Witches. Let me begin by saying I do my best to be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others not out of some scrambling PC fear, but because not hurting others seems like a basic level of decency we should all be striving for. As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused. I am sorry. I did not connect limb difference with the GHW when the look of the character was brought to me. If I had, I assure you this never would have happened.”
It seems that barely a movie goes by these days without generating controversy or backlash of some description, and The Witches has now seen both the studio and the leading lady have to issue apologies for their depiction of the villains of the piece.