Disabled community upset with The Witches, Warner Bros expresses regret

Warner Bros has said it is “deeply saddened” that the film The Witches has upset the disabled community. Based on Dahl’s classic 1983 book, The Witches has been directed by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis and features actors Anne Hathaway, Jahzir Kadeen Bruno, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, and Chris Rock.

The movie, which premiered on HBO Max on October 22, has been slammed by prominent members of the community, including campaigners, Paralympians and the Paralympic Games organisation for its depiction of the witches.

In the movie, Hathaway’s character Grand High Witch and others are revealed to have three elongated fingers on each hand, which is similar to the limb abnormality ectrodactyly, otherwise known as “split hand”. Taking to Twitter, British Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren slammed the film for its depiction of the witches.

“Warner Bros, was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect the limb difference community?” Marren tweeted.

The official social media account for the Paralympic Games also addressed the film in a post, saying, “Limb difference is not scary. Differences should be celebrated and disability has to be normalised.” In its response, a spokesperson of Warner Bros said the studio is “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities”.

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“In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book. It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them,” the spokesperson added.

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