Warner Bros has announced the release date for the upcoming adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel The Witches. The film has already been adapted once, in 1990. This latest, live action, version is set to be released in on 16th October 2020, directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Published in 1983, The Witches is considered a modern children’s classic, despite the dark and violent overtones of the story. It follows a newly-orphaned boy attempting to navigate a world overrun by child-hating witches, whose sole purpose is to obliterate as many of them as possible. Despite the best efforts of his retired witch-hunting grandmother, he falls foul of the Grand High Witch, a horrifying demon masquerading as a deceptively beautiful woman. With Dahl’s trademark grotesque touch, the book’s narrator undergoes a life-changing transformation at the hands of the witches. This doesn’t stop him and his grandmother from hatching a plan to prevent the witches wiping out all the children of England.
The 1990 adaptation of the book changed many facets of the source material, including making a radical amendment to the ending. By contrast, Zemeckis has stated that his version will be more faithful to the book. It will apparently be set in the 1960s in the “Gothic South” of the USA instead of England, and will have what the director calls a “sociological spin” on the idea of witches, as opposed to a purely supernatural one.
The original film was panned by critics and loathed by Dahl, but has since gained a dedicated following. In particular, Angelica Houston’s terrifying performance as the Grand High Witch is considered a stand-out moment. The 2020 version will see Anne Hathaway take her place. No other cast members have been named. For devotees of the book, it will be an exciting moment in the evolution of the story, as well as introducing a new dimension to screen adaptations of Dahl’s work.