Film, Film Review

SALEM HORROR REVIEW: The Witches of Hollywood (2020) dir. Sophie Peyrard

World premiere via Salem Horror Fest

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Throughout time, witches have represented many things for women – maturity, sexuality, rebirth, revenge and feminism. Witches are characters who often live in a society that oppresses or fears them for their power – they represent how women have struggled to find their place in the male-dominated world and how a woman having such power can be “dangerous.” This is not only and occurrence in fiction– it’s also reflective of our history. That’s where The Witches of Hollywood comes into play, featuring multiple experts that are absolutely fascinating to listen to as they unravel the history and meanings of our most beloved witches in cinema.

Witches weaves together the historical view of the witch and her Hollywood counterpart, and makes you look deeper at classics you’ve watched for years. In one of the most interesting bits, the doc examines the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) and Glinda the Witch of the North (Billie Burke) from The Wizard of Oz. As we have seen in years before and still see today, women are pressured to be beautiful, and women who do not conform to society’s demands are labelled negatively. Glinda is seen as “good” because she is beautiful, dressing in white and light pink, whereas the Wicked Witch of the West dresses in black and is “bad” because she is not the standard of beautiful in society. Women are constantly judged – they have never had it easy, whether it be fiction or not.

As the documentary goes on, women from all different professions passionately weigh in on how cinema’s witches have reflected what is happening in corresponding history. For example, how women have a sense of freedom during WWII while the men are away, so it’s reflected in their witch counterparts in cinema to have more freedom.

Witches is a fantastic analysis (created with love by some stellar storytellers) of women, witches, and feminine power. I was clinging onto every last word in this doc – and was wishing it was longer than 55 minutes.

The Witches of Hollywood
2020
dir. Sophie Peyrard
55 min.

World premiere via the Salem Horror Festclick here for pass info!

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