Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The Witches

The Witches, is a 2020 supernatural comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, and stars Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and is narrated by Chris Rock. It is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl and is the second feature-length adaptation of the novel, after the 1990 film of the same name directed by Nicolas Roeg. The film starts with narration by an adult Charlie Hansen (Rock) as he gives a presentation on witches. He then transitions into talking about his childhood (younger version played by Jahzir Bruno) and how he first came in contact with witches. In 1968, Charlie’s parents die in a car accident and he goes to live with his grandmother (Spencer) in Alabama. While at the store a strange woman with a green snake offers him a piece of candy, but they are interrupted by Charlie’s grandmother. This encounter scares Charlie and that night he confesses to her what happened. She then informs him what he saw was actually a witch and tells Charlie how her childhood best friend was turned into a chicken by one. In an attempt to get away from the witch for a while, Charlie and his now ill grandmother go stay at a fancy hotel where a family member works. The next day Charlie goes off alone to train his pet mouse (Kristin Chenoweth) as his grandmother rests, and he ends up in a ballroom set up for a meeting. When a group of ladies arrives to start their conference they reveal themselves to be witches. The meeting is presided over by the Grand High Witch (Hathaway) as she explains her plan to get rid of all the world’s children by turning them into mice. Drawing Charlie and his grandmother into a fight with the witches they had been trying to escape from in the first place. In this blog post I will look at how the change in setting and character background for the adaptation works in the story. 

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Spangler’s From Sentence to Screen: The BFG

                     

The BFG is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill. It is based on the 1982 children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. The film takes place in the mid 1900s where a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is living in an orphanage in London. One night when awake during the “witch hour,” when things like the boogeyman come out, she sees a giant (Mark Rylance). Realizing he has been seen, the giant grabs Sophie from her bed and takes the 10 year old girl with him to Giant Country. When they get to the giant’s house Sophie tries to escape, but to keep her with him the giant mixes a nightmare and gives it to Sophie so she will see what happens if she leaves. After Sophie wakes up she agrees not to leave the giant, and the gaint tells her about himself, how he can’t always say what he means, he is the smallest of all the giants, and that he catches dreams to give children. Sophie convinces the giant to show her Dream Country and while catching dreams the giant says he was once called The Big Friendly Giant. Hearing this Sophie decides to call him the BFG. After Sophie accidentally catches a horrible nightmare called a “Trogglehumper,” the BFG takes her back to Giant Country. Fearing that Sophie isn’t safe with him, because the other giants eat humans, he takes her back to the orphanage. He soon takes her back to Giant Country though and the two come up with a plan to stop the man-eating giants. In this blog post I will look at the changes made to the story and Sophie’s character when the novel was adapted into a film.

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