Halloween is the perfect time to brush up on brilliant fictional witches. One of my favorite magical movies to revisit every autumn is Practical Magic. The 1998 Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman star vehicle about a family of witches living in New England is a masterclass in magical realism. It’s definitely corny, and certainly flawed, but it’s surprisingly subversive and always incredibly enjoyable. So I’ve picked six of the reasons why Practical Magic is the witchy film you need to revisit in 2018.
It’s about a family made up almost entirely of women
The core group of characters in Practical Magic is entirely composed of women. The story begins with two young girls who are put into the care of their aunts after their parents die. Those aunts just happen to be witches who are played by none other than Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest! Those two young women of course become Kidman and Bullock, and later we get the addition of Evan Rachel Wood and Alexandra Artrip. So not only do we have an unconventional family of loving, complex, and flawed women, but they’re all played by amazing actresses.
It’s a story about being true to yourself while still finding a place in the world
At the core of the story are two sisters who have grown to shun the magic in their blood. Terrified of falling foul of the curse they believe killed their parents, and blaming their powers for their deaths, the pair deny their witchcraft upbringing in favor of a “normal” life. But when they’re put in danger they embrace it, as do the other women in the close knit community who’ve previously judged them. Now allowed to be themselves, they also find a place in the non-magic world.
It’s a tale about two sisters who love each other
Sisterly love is radical. Public shows of it can cause controversy–like Anna and Elsa in Frozen–it can be subversive, and magical. In Practical Magic, this love is at the center of everything and drives our characters’ actions. Whether it’s surviving their parents’ death, the devotion of the aunts who raise them, Sally’s grief, or Gilly being put in danger by an abusive partner, the love between women is always the strongest power at play.
It’s magical, whimsical, and perfect for fall
Witches, magic, pumpkins, and a gorgeous New England landscape make the best cocktail for spending a cold fall evening, and of course Practical Magic delivers on every level. From the quiet, idyllic autumnal town to the family’s giant Gothic house that looks like something out of The Nightmare Before Christmas, to the spooky spells, broomsticks, love potions, and the relationships that come from them, it’s the perfect film to watch whilst under a blanket sipping a hot chocolate.
An awesome parable about women teaming up to take down abusive men
In 2018, there’s a lot of power and relevance in stories that focus on women banding together to destroy abusive men. In Practical Magic, not only do the sisters, aunts, and Sally’s two children come together to keep each other safe, but so do the residents of the small town, the same ones who shunned Sally and bullied the sisters as rumors of their witchcraft spread. In the end, the resurrected spirit of Gilly’s abusive evil ex can only be beaten when the women of the small town come together as one.
It’s a reminder that female strength and friendship can overcome almost anything
Sometimes the world can get incredibly overwhelming. So it’s nice to have a good spooky film that reminds us that in the end, female friendship and chosen family can be incredibly powerful. Practical Magic does this at every turn–anytime things look bleak, the women in the film bond together and support each other. The true magic were the friends they made on the way!Will you be revisiting this magical fall film whilst sipping on something pumpkin spiced? Let us know below!
Images: Warner Bros.