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Review: The Craft [film]

Fleming, A. (Director). (1996). The craft [Film]. Columbia Pictures.

Summary

The Craft begins with Sarah, a young girl portrayed by Robin Tunney, moving to a new Catholic school. Sarah’s mother is deceased, and in Sarah’s struggle with the loss, she attempted suicide. Once enrolled in the new school, Sarah is introduced to the three girls involved in the “art” of witchcraft. Each of the girls is uniquely troubled, and they are school outcasts. Nancy, played by Fairuza Balk, lives with parents characterized as “white trash”; she is deeply ashamed of her abusive stepfather and weak alcoholic mother. Bonnie, played by Neve Campbell, bears disfiguring scars on her back. Rochelle, played by Rachel True, is the only black girl on the swim team and she is persecuted by one of her white teammates.

At first Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle appear disheveled. Their hair and clothes are unkempt and they are ostracized by their peers. One popular boy who first encounters Sarah, points out the three and refers to them as the “bitches of Eastwick” (in reference to another movie, “The Witches of Eastwick,” about three adult women suffering similar feelings of loss of control over their lives). Once the girls unite and discover their powers, they become more attractive, dress sexier, and don sharper hairstyles.

After obtaining a book of spells from the occult bookstore, Sarah is inducted into the “teen coven.” Sarah becomes the fourth person required for casting spells. After hearing several times that “he will hear us now,” Sarah asks if they are talking about God. Nancy answers that “man created God, this is older.” Sarah then asks if they worship the devil. This is explained in vague terms relating to the elements of nature, but it is not denied that “he” is the devil. It is significant that they leave the city to hold “communion” of sorts that includes adding their own blood to wine.

Their spells begin to grant all their wishes: Nancy’s stepfather dies, leaving the family wealthy; Bonnie’s scars peel away, revealing smooth flesh; Rochelle’s tormentor loses great clumps of her long blond hair before all the swim team; and the boy who spread rumors about Sarah falls helplessly in love with her.

The spells begin to backfire as Sarah tries to leave the group. It is explained that they have “invoked the spirit” for the wrong reasons, putting things out of balance. In their attempt to kill Sarah in a final flurry of typical Hollywood horror effects, Sarah informs Nancy that “he” is very upset with her for abusing the gifts she has been given. The movie concludes with Nancy in an asylum, Bonnie and Rochelle stripped by the devil of their powers, and Sarah stronger in her “craft” that ever before.

Several movie reviews may be obtained on the Internet.

  • Thomas, K. (1996, May 3). Good vs. evil in clever, gruesome, “craft”. [Review of the film The Craft]. Los Angeles Times.
  • Garner, J. (1996, May 2). .Get Reel with Jack Garner. [On-line]. [Review of the film The Craft]. Available HTTP://www.RochersterDandC.com.
  • Gleiberman, O. (1996, May 10). Belles, books, and candles: Extracurricular activities turn wicked in “the craft”. [Review of the film The Craft]. Entertainment Weekly.
  • Hamilton, D. (1996, May 3). [Review of the film The Craft]. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution.

Conclusions from the Movie

After viewing the movie, it is possible that young people may learn the following:

  • Witchcraft enables girls to regain control over their lives. It may provide a means of getting even if the person feels wronged.
  • Power emerges from seeking like-minded peers to form “the Elements of Nature.”
  • The “craft” enabled the girls to change their appearance, making them more attractive.
  • In forming the group and practicing the magic, they became confident and assertive.
  • Magic may be a means to popularity.
  • Information needed to begin may be obtained from a library or occult bookstore.
  • God is not real.
  • The devil is powerful, giving, and just; his very existence is equated with nature. He punishes those who abuse the gifts of power.
    • He has the power to bestow power.
    • He intervenes on behalf of the unjustly persecuted. The script reads, “He takes everything gone wrong in your life and makes it all better.”
  • Traditional images associated with the Holy Trinity are co-opted by the devil under the thin veil of nature.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What images are evoked by the terms “witch” and “witchcraft”?
  2. Do you make a distinction between “white” and “black” magic?
  3. How do present day witches practice and explain their “craft”?
  4. Is there any harm in watching TV shows such as “Bewitched,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” or “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”?
  5. In your opinion, can a person of faith (Christian, Jew, or Muslim, for example) be involved in activities related to “white” magic, or in seemingly harmless role-playing games involving fantasy characters related to sorcery and witchcraft without compromising their faith?
  6. If you know someone involved in witchcraft or the occult, how would you approach them? What adivce would you give them?

Implications

  • Fairy tales are often used to teach young people lessons on ethics and morality. Parents and youth leaders need to evaluate how these stories, particularly with regards to witchcraft and the supernatural, are shared with children.
  • Youth leaders, social workers, teachers, and parents need to know the signs of occult experimentation.
  • A new arena for learning about the occult and witchcraft may be found on the Internet. Youth workers should be familiar with the type of information that is readily available.
  • Youth workers should formulate a plan of dealing with occult influences in the area in which they live and the schools where they are involved.
  • Young people also learn about the occult from music. Knowing the facts and rumors surrounding the occult and music groups singing about the occult is essential for discussing these influences with youth.
  • To address issues about the occult, youth workers need to be spiritually grounded, knowledgeable, and equipped. Get support from other discerning experts.

David Freels
© 2017 CYS

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