Films intended for children can have powerful messages too, like Mulan’s (1998) message about gender equality or Pocahontas’ (1995) message about tolerance. The Little Witch delves into what to do when one lives in a corrupt society or system, and the answer is to start a revolution.
The Little Witch is originally a German film that has been dubbed into English for international audiences. The film follows a young (127 years to be exact) witch (Karoline Herfurth) who has always wanted to celebrate Walpurgis night; an event where only the older witches gather, dance around a bonfire, fly on their brooms, and cast spells. Despite a warning from her raven friend Abraxas, the little witch goes anyway, gets caught, and is ordered to either learn the entire book of witchcraft (containing 7,892 spells) by next year to prove herself as a proper witch or never get invited to Walpurgis night again. As the little witch attempts to prove herself, she has to question what it really means to become a proper witch and what sacrifices that title entails.
The concept of the film is an enjoyable one, and the plot is supposedly straightforward. However, the film runs on and on, with the plot taking left and right turns in order to fill the 105 minutes it runs. A simple flow of events is easier for children to understand, and digressing to other sub-plots takes away from The Little Witch’s appeal for its main audience, which is children.
The film is also a bit too scary and verbally graphic for young children; the witches look very scary and disfigured, and they speak of very violent actions. One witch speaks of plucking the little witch’s hair strand by strand, another about cutting the leader witch’s head off. Parents will not be happy when their children have nightmares about these witches.
On a lighter note, the world created in the film was very enchanting with good graphics work. The character of the little witch was also fun and very likeable, even if she was a bit fickle and her relationship with Abraxas was the source of the most (if not the only) emotion evoked from the film. Karoline Herfurth was still able to convey a likeable character, and her performance was strong with meaningful facial expressions and body language.
If you have young children, you need to think whether or not waking up to their screams is worth the 105-minute feature. If you are an adult and this seems interesting to you, make sure you don’t mind the detours and the constant plot digressions.