A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Little Witch is a Swiss-German live-action story about a witch who only wants to cast helpful spells and be nice to humans, instead of being evil as her old, ugly superiors order. This will make her instantly enchanting to the young viewers for whom this is intended. She is a fun girl who likes to soar on her broom, chat with her talking raven, and conjure rainstorms of raisins and balls of yarn. Her big problem, which may make this a bit scary for the youngest audiences, is that the head witches are menacing, in the mold of The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West. They threaten to turn kids into stone. The overall message is that being good has its rewards as the Little Witch triumphs without succumbing to pressures to behave badly.
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What's the story?
At 127, THE LITTLE WITCH is far younger than the more established witches in her village. Her dearest desire is to dance with them all on Broken Mountain on Walpurgis Night, when humans cower behind shutters and witches party hearty. When the Little Witch (Karoline Herfurth) tries to sneak in and join them, the older witches mock her and decree that she become a proper witch. She is given the year to learn the thousands of spells in the enormous spell book, and if she passes their test she can dance. The evil Rumpumpel (Suzanne Von Borsody) tries to trip the Little Witch up all year, following her around and recording her misdeeds. Rumpumpel catches her casting spells on Friday, casting spells in front of humans, and using her magic to do nice things, all of which are forbidden because in order to be a "good" witch, one has to be bad. When the Little Witch is given an ultimatum -- turn some children into stone or lose her powers -- she plots to save the kids and take the magical powers away from her elders.
Is it any good?
This is a charming magical romp that is well cast, beautifully designed, and just magical enough to keep the interest of younger viewers with shorter attentions spans. The heavily made-up human actors gleefully play witches with relish, sufficiently over the top to disguise the fact that The Little Witch is dubbed artfully into English. Kids might delight at the idea that being a "good" witch requires being evil, turning children's understanding of what "good" means on its ear. Sensitive younger kids may be scared of the elder witches, who are menacing and mean, but many children will enjoy this different take on what it means to be a witch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how hard it is to do the right thing sometimes. Why do you think the Little Witch says no to doing evil? How do you say no to things you know are wrong?
The Little Witch rides on a flying broom, and her best friend is a magical talking raven. Does this movie want you to think witches with magical powers are real? How can you tell?
What other stories about witches have you seen or read? How does this one compare?
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