Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Little Witch (5 Stars)

This is one of the most beautiful children's films ever made. Karoline Herfurth plays a witch who lives in a house in a secluded forest with her companion the raven Abraxas. The witch isn't named, neither in the film nor in the book on which it's based, so I'll call her Karoline. That's a good name for a witch, isn't it?

The biggest night in the year is Walpurgis Night, April 30th. All the witches meet on the mountain Blocksberg to dance. Karoline wants to go, but she's never invited because she's too young. She's only 127 years old. Being a rebellious little witch she decides to gatecrash the party. Her fun doesn't last long. After only a few minutes of waving her arms in the air and stomping her feet she's spotted by her Aunt Rumpumpel, who drags her before the Queen of the Witches. Karoline insists that she deserves to visit the yearly dance, so the Queen gives her a chance. She has 12 months to learn all 7922 spells in the Witches Spellbook (TM), and she must also prove that she's a good witch.

That's more than 20 spells a day, but she gets to work straight away, practising and memorising the spells with the help of Abraxas. She also does good deeds, helping poor families gather wood, feeding hungry children and punishing bullies. Feeling confident of being accepted, she returns to be tested the day before Walpurgis Night the next year. She impresses the Queen with her mastery of witchcraft, but she finds out that she misunderstood what a good witch is. A good witch is a witch who does bad deeds, and a bad witch is a witch who does good deeds. Rumpumpel wants Karoline to be cast out, but the Queen gives her one last chance. If she turns her favourite children into stone all her good deeds will be forgotten and she can take part in the dance.

Today a special premiere was shown in 188 cinemas across Germany. Visitors were asked to come to see the film dressed as witches in an attempt to set a new record for the most witches at a film premiere. I never knew that it was a category in the Guinness Book of records. At my cinema there were 77 witches present. Overall there were 6434 witches. These are typical scenes in the cinemas.

Karoline didn't have a spell to create 187 clones of herself, so she couldn't be present at all 188 cinemas. She was at a cinema in Potsdam, where this photo was taken. I'm jealous. She should have come to Stuttgart instead. Doesn't she know that I'm her number one fan?

How could Karoline possibly be 127 years old? She doesn't look a day over 99.

The voice of the raven Abraxas is supplied by Axel Prahl, one of Germany's best actors. This is the second film he's made with Karoline Herfurth. In 2009 he appeared with her in "Berlin 36", the story of Gretel Bergman's participation in the 1936 Olympic games.

"The Little Witch" is an amazing film. I sincerely hope it will be made available in English. The children in the audience loved it. They were laughing throughout the film. As for the parents, I only spoke to the woman who was sitting next to me with her young daughter. She told me that she hadn't been to the cinema for years. A few minutes after the film started she fell asleep. Not the daughter. She was spellbound throughout the film.

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