On the off chance that you have missed the first film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches in the 1990s, perhaps you should check the latest one out. Featuring Anne Hathaway as the main antagonist, the film will be gracing your screens locally on Friday, 29 January exclusively on HBO GO and On Demand on Astro.
Did you know the tale was actually based on Dahl’s experiences when he was just a child? Scary.
Anyway, this dark fantasy film centres on a boy and his grandmother who has discovered a coven of diabolical witches. Together with the help and support from some friendly mice, they try to defeat these malicious witches once and for all.
But before it airs on TV, how about we take a look behind-the-scenes of The Witches and discover how this most recent film was made.
The Classic Beguile
The film brings us back to the simpler days of the 1960s, a time where digital gadgets and mobile phones were non-existent. Initially, the location was maintained in an original European setting however they switched it to Alabama in the US. Nevertheless, they still managed to keep the nostalgic tone of the novel with the beautiful floral prints on Grandma’s dresses, kitchenware sourced predominantly from the Southern United States and the corner store with its comprehensive inventory of authentic foods and household items, including 300-period torches from a private collector.
They were so successful that Octavia Spencer aka Grandma said it reminded her of her own grandmother’s home.
Architecture of the Ancient Century
As for the Grand Orleans Imperial Island Hotel where most of the story unfolds, it had an antebellum-style with bold Southern grandeur. Viewers would able to capture that from the huge pillars, large balconies, dormers and gables.
To provide a more rich feel of European royalty, the Grand High Witch’s bedroom suite was designed in a lavish spread of pink damask, gilded mirrors and oversized wall lights.
Iconic Sense of Fashion
In terms of being well-dressed and glamourous, no one can certainly beat the witches sense of fashion. Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of the Grand High Witch is always seen with heavy eye makeup, bold red lips along with her beehive hair (or should we say wig). The whole look is inspired by 1960s fashion icons, Jackie O to Marilyn Monroe and Swedish-German supermodel Nena von Schlebrügge.
Similarly, the rest of the witches are styled with elegant gloves, perfectly matched outfits and smart shoes with perfectly coifed hair.
Then there are the witches claws, toeless feet and hair of unrealistic proportions that the prosthetics team are responsible for. To achieve a dramatic look, they curated a range of looks and outfits to suit the escalation of the Grand High Witch’s evil plan. A total of six different looks were created just for Hathaway’s character, which included 17 bald caps, 22 pairs of “back of hands,” 198 finger extensions and eight pairs of feet.
To complete the look for all 50 witches, the final count came up to 62 bald caps, 20 pairs of feet, 80 back of hand prosthetics and 350 finger extensions.
Inner & Outer Beauty
When it comes to a person’s inner and outer beauty, Roald Dahl has got that nailed in his books hence why it fits the portrayal of these witches very well. While they all look strikingly beautiful, they hide the darkness within and to reflect the darkness and evil of the Grand High Witch, her initially glamourous look gradually gets darker and darker. Even her wig, thanks to some extreme back-combing, gives the appearance of horns when viewed from the side.
Kristin Chenoweth, who played the mouse Daisy, was locked down in New York City while shooting was in progress. Since she couldn’t be on set, her boyfriend took matters into his own hands and transformed her closet into a studio, with her computer, tablet and handphone connecting her to the director, producers and animators so they could discuss her character and how she would bring Daisy to life, so that the animators could draw it in.
“Dos theez sound rhight?”
Hathaway was supposed to speak in a Scandinavian accent when in the role of the Grand High however she found it really difficult to create an intimidating presence with its light, musical quality. Instead, she went further back and discovered Old Norse, which hit the right notes when it came to sounding big, scary and dramatic. Even her fellow actors enjoyed it, with Stanley Tucci finding it extremely entertaining.
Best Buddies, On-Screen and Off
Unlike what witches think – that all kids deserve to be turned into mice and exterminated – Jahzir Bruno and Codie Lei Eastick demonstrated the best of childhood qualities by becoming fast friends. Apart from attending lessons together, they also hung out in the evenings after each day’s shoot concluded.
So that’s it for the behind-the-scenes look. Don’t forget to catch The Witches next Friday, 29 January exclusively on HBO GO and On Demand on Astro.