The Witches

The Witches


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the year 1590, three fishwives from North Berwick become more than a little agitated by King James's new decree against the practice of witchcraft. In future, any woman suspected of indulging in the black arts will be flung in a river. If they float, they are witches and will be burnt at the stake. If they sink, they are not. Either way, they die.

Morag McKinnon's script is loosely off its head, part hilarity, part nonsensical innovation. The Scottish king talks posh, like those chinless wonders from Bertie Wooster's book of silly asses. The storyline weaves and dodges between dark comedy and the limitation of its time scale.

What gives the six-minute film an individuality beyond McKinnon's witty asides is Elizabeth Hobbs's animation, which resembles watercolours on the move. At first, they appear to be running into themselves, but soon the eye adjusts and mouths can be discovered like voice holes in a mumble of colour.

There is a wishful originality here that defies indifference.

Reviewed on: 23 Apr 2003
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New laws against witchcraft trouble three fishwives from North Berwick in 1590.

Director: Elizabeth Hobbs

Writer: Morag McKinnon

Year: 2002

Runtime: 6 minutes

Country: UK

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