Angelina Jolie, that beautiful actress that women love to hate has a new movie coming out where she plays Maleficent the dark but beautiful witch from the story Snow White. You know Mal was one of the original haters. She looked banging, but she wanted to make sure that nobody else came close. Say it with me: “mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Maleficent’s story is one of the most popular stories as she, the quintessential “black witch” was the opposite of the fair Snow White.
One thing that I’ve noticed beyond Maleficent is that witches are normally played by drop-dead gorgeous women. Prove me wrong.., They are either old, wrinkled and terrible, or breathtakingly gorgeous… no middle ground. Think of any witch in our modern cinema that was truly an ugly crone. You will be hard-pressed to find one unless you take it back to the eighties.
I can recall the mini-series Tin Man where the black witch was Azkadellia, played by lovely Kathleen Robertson and she was unforgettable in the role being as frightening as she was beautiful. Though I may gravitate to the “dark side” for obvious reasons, let me tell you, that evil witch was the worst kind of distraction for any straight male watching the story.
Here I was trying to watch poor DG (Zooey Deschanel) find her way out of OZ and boom, the evil villainess is what we men would call a dime piece… how am I supposed to side with good over that? Azkadellia brought about the same mixed feelings that happen when a desirable woman is put into a dark role. We begin to wonder how she got there, how can she be saved, and how lonely she must be in her cursed fate. In HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, we are given a twisted beauty and victim of life in Gillian Darmody but being that she is played by Gretchen Mol, it isn’t out of the question to find a number of male sympathizers loving on her dastardly deeds. Beauty is an intoxicating thing. This is why it makes me wonder if the choice of an Angelina Jolie playing a witch is a no-brainer to a screenwriter looking to inspire sympathy for the villain?
Evil witches are distractingly BEAUTIFUL… but is this by design?
Many of the stories where witches come about it is normally a good woman that falls into the villain role due to jealousy or a bad situation. What this means is that they weren’t born as a twisted, evil creature but why aren’t they ever plain? When Tilde Swinton, a woman whose beauty can be best described as androgynous, played the witch in The Chronicles of Narnia, she was still a beautiful witch–albeit unconventional, but you would be hard-pressed to find many men feeling anything for her as the White Witch (Editor’s note: no worries Tilde you killed the role and I loved you in it).
Charlize Theron, the South African bombshell, played Queen Ravenna (a witch) in Snow White and the Huntsman… but did her beauty add or take away from the role?
Effects on The Psyche
I find it a bit problematic that villains have now become the sexiest thing going in movies. Beyond beautiful women, even “beautiful” men are now being put over as can be observed by Loki’s popularity in Thor: The Dark World. This is nothing new as Heath Ledger’s Joker was a show-stealer in Batman: The Dark Knight, Michael Shannon was a likable General Zod, and big bad Darth Vader has more fans than Luke Skywalker. We are conditioned to love and understand the villain but can we ever love an ugly witch?
When we think of a villainess, we automatically think of her as beautiful whereas a heroine gains more popularity if she identifies with “regular” girls. An ugly witch would not fly these days especially if the “Snow White” in the story is a plain Jane. I hope that I am wrong in this but as men we know all-too-well how frightening of a notion it is when a beautiful woman turns out to be “crazy”. Visions of lopped off penises thrown into her cauldron comes to mind, and before we know it we are chained up in her tower of doom… but not too upset because… well damn she’s fine! Ugh, thanks Hollywood.
Is it just a sexier notion to make evil cute? Or am I reading too much into the beautiful + crazy = makes too much sense that a pretty witch represents? Take a look at the following gallery of witches that have been in popular movies and shows, and you tell me what you think.Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.