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From Page to Screen: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

2013 March 15
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Today on the blog, I get to talk about one of my favorite things. In general, I love books and I love movies. Sometimes I get to compare the two. Though generally I try to consider the stories as separate entities in different mediums, at times I find it fascinating to see how one has progressed to the other.

Hansel-and-Gretel-Witch-Hunters1Last month, I went to the movie theater to see Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Unbeknownst to me, this movie was entirely in 3D, so I had my first full 3D movie  experience.  eeling slightly silly wearing the 3D glasses, I soon found myself immersed in a foreign world. I wandered right alongside Hansel and Gretel as they traveled German forests and small European towns to find witches that were plaguing the average human folk.  

Similar to the originally published Grimm tale, in Tommy Wirkola’s reimagined version, Hansel and Gretel’s parents leave them terrified and alone in the woods. Trying to find their way home, they find a witch’s sugary cottage and find themselves having to defeat her to save their own lives. Once they’ve accomplished this task — and quite gleefully I might add — the orphaned siblings become bounty hunters seeking vengeance against all witches. Over time, Hansel and Gretel rid the world of a great many witches, gaining quite the reputation for themselves along the way. 

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERSNow adult witch hunters, Hansel and Gretel come to a small town where the sheriff is about to hang a witch. Determining that this woman is actually not an evil witch, Hansel saves her life, and the siblings commit themselves to finding the real witch who has been stealing the town’s children. In their hunt, they discover truths about the origin of witches, a strange prophecy, and a hidden part of their own history.

While the tale originates in history’s most common story of abandoned children forced to fend for themselves, Wirkola takes the brother and sister in a whole new direction.  With a simliar feel to the 2004 movie Van Helsing or Joss Whedon’s TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, intense action wars with character interactions and great one-liners. The sibling team travel well together, devoted to one another, and with Gretel’s brains and Hansel’s brawn, they can take on any obstacle that comes their way. Yet, somehow they are drawn home and deep into a witch-filled mess that even they might not be able to survive.

While there were moments that the storyline and dialogue may have suffered, there were also scenes that will stick with the viewer long after they leave the theater. Moviegoers looking for the cheesy experience of horror-lite will delight in this movie. Adults fascinated with fairy tales will also love the new spin. As long as a viewer enters prepared to stick their tongue firmly into their cheek, they will find it a humorous and satisfying experience. Visually it’s a stunning movie, but especially in 3D, it will be too intense for most young viewers and perhaps even some adults.  (I may have even been tempted to cover my eyes for a moment or two…) 

I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed this new glimpse into the dark world of the original fairy tales that I explored over and over while growing up. I look forward to seeing Jack the Giant Slayer soon for just the same reason. I think I’m also going to have to dig up my old book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales soon and venture into a little rereading!

— Jessica Miller, currently reading Poison by Bridget Zinn and Prairie Evers by Ellen Airgood.

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