People complained that the film associated physical abnormalities with something "evil" or monstrous.
Movie remakes are often under scrutiny by film fans who are purists as it pertains to staying true to original productions, but The Witches has faced backlash for another reason. The new remake of the 1990 film—an adaptation of Roald Dahl's 1983 book of the same name—tells the tale of a secret society of witches that walk among normal, regular human beings. In both films, there is an unveiling of their true grotesque forms, and this time around, Anne Hathaway is shown to have a type of ectrodactyly or a limb that is a "split hand."
Members of the disability community have come forward to call out the film for associating a physical abnormality with maleficence witchcraft. "Is this the kind of message we want the next generation to receive," stated advocate Shannon Crossland. "That having three fingers is a witch’s attribute? It is an extremely damaging portrayal. Disability should NOT be associated with evil, abnormality, disgust, fear or monsters."
When asked to respond to the criticisms, Warner Bros. told Deadline, "In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book. It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them."
They also stated that they are “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities” and that they “regretted any offense caused." Deadline details how Dahl described the limbs in his original story: "square feet with no toes” and “claws instead of fingernails."
Still, people have voiced their disapproval on social media. Check out a few responses below.