Blu-ray & DVD: The Witches (1967)
Famed producer Dino De Laurentiis brought together 5 Italian directors for an anthology movie. Their brief was very simple: to direct an episode in which Silvana Mangano (to whom he was married) plays a witch. Though the definition of ‘witch’ may well vary from story to story, especially if you are expecting broomsticks, a pointy hat and a wart on the nose.
First up is ‘The Witch Burned Alive’, which features Mangano as a famous actress who visits an old friends house where a party is being held. Surprising the attended guests with her appearance there, relationships are pushed to breaking point and secrets are spilled.
This is one of the longer stories of the 5, and I must admit that my attention was beginning to wane towards the end. Mangano looks almost alien-like with her swept back wig, mink eyelashes and eyes pulled tight with tape to keep up the appearance of eternal youth that her fans expected. Ultimately though, this particular story is overlong and outstays its welcome with no particularly satisfying ending to it.
‘Civic Sense’ is the shortest of them all and has Mangano driving to a date. She is running late through the roads of Rome (though we don’t realise that she is in a hurry yet) and sees a road traffic accident where a male driver has sustained injuries. She offers to take him directly to get medical help and puts him into her car, whereupon she immediately puts her foot down, as she now has an excuse for speeding should the police stop her. A short montage of her car racing through Rome concludes with her pulling up at her dates house and instructing the dazed and confused man to walk across the road to the medical centre…which is just a beach front. He collapses on the floor and we’re onto the next story.
‘The Earth as Seen From the Moon’ is probably the most bizarre of them all, and my favourite too. Mourning the death of his wife, Cicancicato (Italian comedy actor Totò) and his son walk the streets for over a year trying to find a suitable replacement that they both agree on. They finally come across a deaf and mute woman (Mangano) who fulfils every criteria they have put upon themselves. After getting married and moving into the family home, a plan to raise some much needed money goes horribly wrong.
Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, ‘The Earth as Seen from the Moon’ is full of lurid colours, offbeat set design, and eccentric costumes which gives it a fantasy world atmosphere.
‘The Sicilians Wife’ is a very short story about revenge, while the concluding ‘An Evening Like the Others’ is a curiosity piece for the fact that it features a miscast Clint Eastwood as the husband of a woman who is bored with their relationship and daydreams of more exciting times together. This translates to choreographed song and dance pieces where Mangano and Eastwood play out exaggerated scenes of happiness together. Want to see Clint Eastwood dive onto a bed wearing just a pair of flesh coloured speedos? Then this is the movie for you.
The Witches took a while to really grab my attention, but by the end of the 2nd story I was hooked and the truly bizarre happenings of ‘The Earth as Seen From the Moon’ reeled me in completely. I can see why this might polarise opinion, but I’m currently sat here a few days later still thinking about it and looking forward to a rewatch sometime in the future.
If you want something a little ‘off centre’, then The Witches is definitely going to give you a different viewing experience to what you’re used to at your local multiplex.
- Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Italian mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
- Brand-new audio commentary by film critic and novelist Tim Lucas
- Interview with actor Ninetto Davoli, recorded exclusively for this release
- English-language version of Vittorio De Sica’s episode, An Evening Like the Others, starring Clint Eastwood
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone and Kat Ellinger
The Witches is released on 8th January 2018 and you can buy it by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes.