After the release of The Witches on HBO Max, several people have spoken out about the way physical difference is associated with villainy in the new film. The production company behind the movie, Warner Bros., issued short statement of regret about this choice on Nov. 4. Soon after, the star of the movie responded to the criticism too. Anne Hathaway’s apology for The Witches controversy addresses the pain caused by her character.
In The Witches, which is based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book and follows the 1990 movie adaptation of the same book, Hathaway plays the Grand High Witch, the all-powerful leader of witches on Earth who leads a plot to wipe out children. In every iteration of this story, these witches are known for having a frightening physical appearance. However, the most recent adaptation’s take on this attribute came under fire for an important reason.
In the original book, the witches are described as having "claw-like" hands. However, in this movie, Hathaway’s character is shown with hands that look more similar to ectrodactyly, otherwise known as “split hand,” in which there is an absence of one or more central digits on the hand or foot. British Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren was one of the first prominent people to call out the portrayal of limb differences in The Witches, noting it’s upsetting that "something that makes a person different [is] being represented as scary."
Warner Bros. released a statement about the issue on Nov. 4, which, per CNN, reads:
Hathaway shared her apology on Instagram on Nov. 5, along with a video for The Lucky Fin Project, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about — and celebrates people with — limb differences.
In her apology, Hathaway wrote:
She went on to say:
In her apology, Hathaway took ownership for the pain she caused. She also shifted attention to The Lucky Fin Project and their "necessary and inclusive perspective" on limb difference, which will hopefully bring some positivity out of this controversy.
The Witches is streaming on HBO Max now.
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