‘The Witches’ in the Hot Seat for Limb Impairment Implications

To the delight of many fantasy fans and classic children’s book lovers, the trailer for the newest film adaptation of Road Dahls, The Witches, was released on October 22nd, 2020. And, as of Halloween, it’s now available on HBO Max. However, Warner Bros portrayal of the defining characteristics of witches (detailed in the original book by Luke’s grandmother as having claw-like fingers and square feet) has garnered backlash and criticism.



Below is a selection of dialogue from Warner Bros’ The Witches:

Hero Boy: Grandma, how can you tell a real witch from a normal lady?
Grandma: Well, first of all, witches aren’t really women at all. They’re demons in human shape. That’s why if you look closely at a witch, you’ll notice the corners of her mouth is elongated, stretching almost up to her ears, and that’s usually hidden with pancake makeup. And a real witch always wears gloves. Always. Because a real witch doesn’t have hands. She’s got claws.

Warner Bros stated that they had “worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book.” The Grand High Witch, played by Anne Hathaway, is seen possessing monstrously clawed hands comprised of three elongated fingers.



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‘Your arm is so scary’ ‘Your arm makes me feel sick’ . . These are just a few comments I received growing up. As a self conscious youngster these comments hurt ALOT and would knock my confidence. Nowadays I just feel sorry for the very ignorant people.🤷‍♀️ . . Seeing this picture from the ‘The Witches’ film made me very confused/upset. Yes you could say it’s great to see someone with a limb difference on TV and more than anything I really want to see more representation in the media. However we want disabilities to to be normalised and be represented in a positive light rather than being associated with being a scary, evil, witch. I know a lot of children and adults who are born missing their fingers and I want them to know that this does not represent you. Your limb difference is not scary. Your difference is unique and beautiful and should be celebrated. . . Some may think that the limb difference community is being over sensitive. But have you lived your life trying to overcome a stigma? . . . I really don’t believe that @warnerbrosuk would have wanted to upset or cause offence but I think maybe a few more discussions should have been had. . More than happy to hear your opinions as I think it’s great to be able to have open discussions about such topics. #notawitch

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Although Dahl’s fundamentals of discerning witches (their clawed hands, bald heads, enlarged nostrils and square, toeless feet) is more readily displayed in this 2020 film than the 1990 film of the same name, this adaptation certainly takes liberties in regard to the shape of the witches clawed hands, stating that they don’t actually have hands at all. Many have spoken out about taking offense and being concerned for the youth’s consumption of these messages.

Actress, Grace Mandeville, stated:

“The truth is children will watch this movie and some will then be scared of people that have limb impairments or ectrodactyly [a split hand] thanks to this film.

“I thought we were moving forward in this industry, but once again a movie has used scars and a disability to create a scary character.”





Warner Bros responded with an apology, stating that it was “deeply saddened” that their film “could upset people with disabilities.” They went on to say that “It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”

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