The classic ‘witches’ convention got a new take this year at the hands of legendary Robert Zemeckis. The feature film, one of the scariest I have ever seen as a child, is undoubtedly based on the eponymous novel by Roald Dahl and tells the story of a young boy who crosses paths with a legion of witches. After transforming into a rat, he decides to team up with his grandmother to prevent his kingdom of chaos from continuing – bringing countless messages of empathy and solidarity that remain alive today.
But has the long-awaited remake retained the essence of Dahl’s book? Or have you decided to bet on original advances and change them completely?
In this special new story, CinePOP presented a list of ten differences between the novel and the 2020 film – so beware of spoilers!
CHANGE OF SCENARIO …
Unlike the book, Zemeckis’ version set out to bring the timeless narrative to Alabama in the 1960s, using the troubled period in American history to spark some interesting discussions. The novel, in fact, is set in England and Norway in the 1980s.
… AND THE MYTHOLOGY TOO!
The main idea behind Dahl’s writings was to create evil beings who would kidnap and end up with children no one would miss – which is why the protagonist boy and his grandmother don’t have a name. In the new version, the hero is called Charlie (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno), while his grandmother is called Agatha (Octavia Spencer), breaking the existing universality.
Despite maintaining the classic book finale – in which neither of the kids revert to human form – Zemeckis bewitched his version’s grand finale and placed now-aged Charlie (Chris Rock) as captain of an army. of children trained to destroy witches by transforming them into mice with the very potion they invented. In the writings, the narrator and his grandmother plan to travel to the villain’s lair in Norway and nip the evil in the bud.
DAISY DOES NOT EXIST
The remake of ‘Witches’ Convention introduced an interesting character called Daisy (Kristin Chenoweth), who is revealed to be a girl named Mary who has fallen into the clutches of witches and now lives as a little white furry mouse. Although he has a fundamental role in the narrative, he does not exist in the book.
At the end of the feature film, Agatha frees the adorable Hades kitten from her cage – and, in revenge for being locked up by the Great Witch (Anne Hathaway), now turned into a rat, he attacks and devours her. Such a resolution is more visceral than Dahl’s novel – though it is equally tragic: the villain becomes a rat and is crushed in chaos.
In the books, the boy mentions that he loves his grandmother more than his own mother – and this is mentioned before his parents died. Therefore, they have a strong relationship from the start, which does not happen in the film: after being orphaned, Charlie and Agatha face certain obstacles before they find their own rhythm and forge their family bonds.
A NEW BRUNO
In the book, Bruno’s parents (Codie-Lei Eastick) are horrible – and even he isn’t a fragrant flower. Anyway, everyone gets together after the boy is transformed into a rat. In the film, the character is treated more gently and like a sweet comedic escape, but is ultimately adopted by Agatha when her parents reject him.
Zemeckis’ functionality leveraged a much greater dynamism than seen in the book and changed the iconic kitchen scene. Here, Charlie just throws the potion that will turn witches into rats in pea soup and is soon reunited with his grandmother; in the novel he is caught by the cooks and fights for life (even losing part of his tail).
SHOW ME WHO YOU ARE
In Dahl’s writings, all witches wear masks as part of intricate disguises to prevent children from recognizing them. However, in the remake, they all twisted human characteristics to make them scarier – like claws instead of hands and an animal smile with sharp teeth.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, costume designer Joanna Johnston revealed that unlike Dahl’s classic design that brought witches together in the same cultural sphere, she created 50 different looks that would represent the universality and presence of bad guys around the world. After all, she says, there’s no need to bring historical precision to a fantasy plot.
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