directed by Griffin Dunne
based on a novel by Alice Hoffman
screenplay by Robin Swicord
Sandra Bullock .... Sally 'Sal' Owens
Nicole Kidman .... Gillian 'Gilly-Bean' Owens
Stockard Channing .... Aunt Frances 'Franny' Owens
Dianne Wiest .... Aunt Bridget 'Jet' Owens
Goran Visnjic .... James 'Jimmy' Angelov
Aidan Quinn .... Officer Gary Hallet
Evan Rachel Wood .... Kylie Owens
Alexandra Artrip .... Antonia Owens
Mark Feuerstein .... Michael
Caprice Benedetti .... Maria Owens
Annabella Price .... Lovelorn Lady
Camilla Belle .... Young Sally Owens
Lora Anne Criswell .... Young Gillian Owens
Margo Martindale .... Linda Bennett
Chloe Webb .... Cousin Carla Owens
cast list from IMDB.
A peculiar movie, which viewers seem to either love or hate--very few people have a middle ground on it. It's either a wonderful, charming, refreshing film, "one of the year's best!" or "completely dull, boring, and a waste of money".
I personally liked it and found it a light, entertaining, if not overly thought-provoking, movie. It kept me happy, both as a viewer and a "pagan". (Pagans/witches tend to have even stronger opinions on this film than other people. They either love it, for its lightheartedness, accessability, and not-TOO-far from truth, or they despise it for "sullying" and "lying about" 'the craft'.) I was first shown parts of this film at a magic workshop, as an exercize for picking out "true" and "false" representations of the craft in the movie.
And honestly, it presented a fairly accurate, and more importantly, positive view of witchcraft in a form that was accessable to the general public. It emphasizes that witches are normal people with normal lives (well, mostly normal.) But that they're just as human as anyone else, and have many of the same problems--they just have other ways of coping with them, and on the flipside, other ways of causing themselves problems. This movie also covers quite well several important concepts, such as witches aren't satan worshippers because they don't believe in the devil, and that objects--such as stars, crosses, badges, or pentacles have power only because you believe they do. It talked accurately about the solstice holiday. And it did address modern-day issues such as the fear-hatred reflex to witches that alot of the uneducated public has, and the concept of coming out of the broom closet. What bits of herblore were present were for the most part accurate, as was the presence and use of magical symbols and tools.
Now, admittedly, things like the plague of frogs, the overnight rose bushes, and other things of that ilk were complely out of the realm of reality. One of the more amusing random instances of magic--the blowing on the candles to light them... this ability does exist, the ability to will flame into existance. But it's a wildcard talent and very, very rare. You can train into it, with a great deal of practice, but mostly you're born with or you aren't, and very very few sensitives are.
After the patently untrue, there's questionalbe magic. The resurrection spell, well spells like that *exist*. Whether or not they acutally work as promised is up for massive debate--no one i know, directly or remotely, works in that realm. Even if they are "true" spells, they are highly rare and practiced nearly never. Also along the line of ethics was the love spell which was so "fundamental" to the plotline. To say love spells exist would be to state it very mildly--they exist and are very very common. Most witches consider love spells to be manipulative magic and hence highly unethical. This is touched on in the movie, when Sally asks Gary if he really came for her and her letter, or because he was "drawn" because of her spell. She wonders how they could ever have a true, "real" honest relationship, never knowing upon what it was founded.
The final facet of magic in this movie is one of fun and laughter. THe sisters need "something white" to write with at one point--and use a can of whipped cream. When the coven is finally gathered, and everyone is told to bring brooms, one of the ladies waltzes in with a dustbuster, which is greeted with cheers and laughter. The aunts are in the kitchen brewing SOME concoction and talking about eye of newt and wing of bat and every other cliche "spell" ingredient out there--but their "potion" turns out to be ... margaritas.
This is not a movie to watch and then belive you know everything there is to know about wicca, witchcraft, or magic. It's not even a place to start. But it's got some truth to it. It's no cinematic masterpiece that will live on for ages-it is riddled with weird plot holes and inconsistencies. But it's not a bad flick at all. And on either plane, there are far worse ways to spend two hours.