I just got back from seeing the latest “witch” film, Beautiful Creatures. It is a supernatural love-story adapted from a popular young-adult novel of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The story tells of Ethan, a mortal boy, falling in love with Lena, a young witch, or “caster” to use the film’s politically correct term. Tension builds as Lena’s 16th birthday approaches, at which she will be chosen for either the dark or the light.
On my drive home from the theater, the wheels began spinning in my head – age 16, light vs. dark, young love.
Pop-cultural moments come and go, and the witch has had its share. Each time the figure of the “Witch” means something slightly different, though often focused on the power of women. In the 1940s and 1950s, films like I Married a Witch (1942) and Bell, Book and Candle (1958) showed a witch’s power conquered by their love of a “mortal” man; a trope that was subverted in the 1960s and early 1970s by the television series Bewitched, where it’s clear that Samantha is the smarter, more powerful, partner. “Samantha was representative of suburban domestic ideals. However, at a time when women were beginning to have their horizons broadened, Samantha’s supernatural abilities conjured up the promise of women’s liberation and the unleashing of female power that was to come.”
However, this particular theme of housewife witches turned to darker territory in the late 1960s and the 1970s.