Witches of Eastwick (1987) – Film Review

One of the first films I need to watch for the start of term in September. The clue is in the title, the module is Witchcraft, Magic and Gender in Literature. The Witches of Eastwick will be studied along John Updike’s famous book. I was planning on reading it after my current book, but annoying I’ve ordered the Widows of Eastwick instead, so my plan of reading and watching around the same time has been scarpered. By that’s all by the by, onto the film! 

Three friends Alex, Jane and Sukie, have all been wronged by a man. Death, desertion and divorce. They have been gifted powers but all live somewhat unhappily wishing for a man that brings them danger and interest in their boring lives. Played by Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer they made a convincing trio, but all takes a turn for the worse when mystery man Daryl Van Horne moves into Eastwick. Jack Nicholson takes the part fantastically, and we slowly discover that this mad man may possess supernatural powers of his own. The plot is steeped with mystical intrigue and magic that I hope translates in the atmosphere of the book. It all felt a bit odd to watch, maybe because CGI might be a bit dated, and perhaps it was more surprising to viewers when the film came out. It became so bizarre that it almost made it look satirical, as if their actions had been over-described and over the top, which could be an interesting reading of the novel.

I had my literature head on through most of the film, I tried to pick up on any good quotes that have hopefully been lifted straight from the book. Jack Nicholson quoting Satre with “a woman is a hole, isn’t that what they say? All the futility of the world pouring into her” being a particularly shocking statement that will surely spark some anguish in seminars. I did like that the film mentioned the history of witchcraft and its origin. While Jack Nicholson attempts to woo Susan Sarandon he touches on the image of the witch. To paraphrase his speech, the witch is a male construct used against strong minded women to make there power seem evil. It became a means of control to make women fear striving dominance and it could result in being called a witch, which basically means death. I feel this theme will prevail throughout all the texts on this novel and I’m glad that the first film I’ve seen has touched on this fact.
On its own the film may look barmy, but I feel with the book I will understand what it is getting at. I will report back once the book has been read! It wasn’t an awful film by any means but I think the meanings may be lost on unsuspecting viewers. It is vaguely funny too, a possessed woman shouting ‘dildos’ in church has to make anyone chuckle. Also, I am thankful that I will have the image of Jack Nicholson in my head when reading the book, an entertaining performance, he plays the crazy mad man all too well. It’s exciting to have started the Witchcraft module as well as it is one I am certainly looking forward to, there are a lot of good books and films to go. I can’t wait to get my claws into them!

2 responses to “Witches of Eastwick (1987) – Film Review

  1. Pingback: The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike – Book Review | thisissollie·

  2. Pingback: Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ – Original 1953 Play and 1996 Film Review | Sollie Reviews·

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