Which is all to say that watching Robert Zemeckis' new adaptation of The Witches came fraught with more luggage than any movie could hope to manage -- as many bellhops and boisterous chambermaids as it tossed at me I kept piling my travel-things in its way, tripping up myself and my fun. The agony's two-fold -- you're trying to divorce yourself from your memories and expectations, while you're also trying to make of yourself a child, knee-deep in those old things all over again. It's impossible. The movie demands a child's eye but my child's eyes got emotional cataracts, son.
I don't know really how to write about the movie. Not properly. I wasn't watching the movie so much as I was watching for the movie I wanted the movie to be, which is wasn't, but what is? What was? What even could be? Even Roeg's film, as beloved as it is, has never been that thing I remember from my own beforetime. Revisiting the book's the only thing that takes me back there, and "back there" is so complicated and sad that I sometimes can't stand it.
Those are the things the book makes me remember the most. My loneliness, profound as any spectacular fantasy full of seaside whimsy and lip-puckering turns of phrase, shouldered against it hard as can be, shoulder to shoulder. Unpack one and it all comes unraveled. The Witches was my favorite escape place, where I dragged everything awful along for the ride. Me and Roald killed off my parents and gave me a fun Grandma who gave a damn, and we went on a ridiculous scary ride, for just almost long enough to forget... and then for it all to come flooding back in around the corners. I dog-eared this book to save myself from drowning. And that's all I got.