movie

Week 22: Witches of Manhattan. Best Witches in Film and TV.

Magic has been fascinating me since I was a little child. I was too impatient to wait for my parents to read to me before bedtime, so I was absorbing fairy tale books by myself from morning to dawn when I was just three years old. While other children played with dolls and teddy bears, I immersed myself in worlds of magicians, beautiful sorceresses and evil queens.

At the time, my dad had a rental VHS spot in my city, and we had access to all the latest movies. I especially vividly remember the film Willow with its lush magical world and the frightening and glorious evil Queen Bavmorda. When brainstorming my list of the most memorable witches in film and TV, I immediately thought of her, especially because people tend to forget about this movie altogether.

Year after year, my interest in witchcraft has only grown and I have discovered many new films and TV shows with enchanting white witches, Evil Sorceresses and modern day magicians, and I would like to share my favourites with you.

So, Abracadabra, witches, read my list below:

1. The Three Witches from Macbeth

Three Witches Macbeth

The Three Witches in William Shakespeare's Macbeth represent evil and darkness and tempt Macbeth with their prophecies. With the prophecy that Macbeth shall be king, they lead him to the path of his own destruction. It is incredible how with just a small appearance in the play, the ominous Three Witches and their many representations in art and film, can make your blood run cold.

Bonus: Visit Sleep No More in NYC to encounter The Three Witches! I even interacted with one of them during the show.

2. Seventh Son

Ведьмы в фильме Седьмой Сын.  Witches in Seventh Son film.

Julianne Moore is stunning as a wicked witch, Mother Malkin, in Seventh Son. The fantasy film also stars Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes and Alicia Vikander, who is growing on me with each new role she plays. Unfortunately, Seventh Son was a big flop in the box office, but I enjoyed it very much.

3. Salem

Best witches in film history.

I have just started watching this wicked show inspired by the real Salem witch trials in the 17th century. I can never say no to a period costume series, especially if it has a supernatural element!

4. Practical Magic

Best witches in Film and Tv series! 21 amazing witches

This beautiful film tells the story of the Owens sisters, who come from generations of powerful witches, and follows them on their quest fortrue love. I have watched this romantic film so many times. I love it!

Bonus: Did you know that this famous film was based on the bestselling book? Buy it here on Amazon!

 

5. Snow White and the Huntsman

Best witches in film history. Queen Ravenna.

Queen Ravenna is a ravishing Evil Queen and she might eat your heart. Literally.

6. Geillis Duncan in Outlander

Best witches on the screen - Geillis Duncan from Outlander. Red haired witch.

I am not going to spoil this for non-book readers, but Geillis Duncan is a wonderful, complex character in the Outlander series. Love her or hate her, she has powers and she knows how to use them.

7. Queen Bavmorda in Willow

Best Witches in films and tv.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Willow was my first favourite fantasy film, and evil Queen Bavmorda probably made an appearance in my childhood nightmares. 

8. Witches of East End

Witches of East End. TV series about witchcraft.

I was so disappointed when they cancelled Witches of East End in 2014! It was dark, sultry and gorgeous. I definitely recommend you watch this show. There are so many little details and stories that inspire me to continue writing my novel.

9. Craft

Witches on the screen. Fictional witches in history.

A 90s classic, this horror film tells the story of a group of teenage girls who practice witchcraft, and later use it to curse every one who wronged them at school. I usually despise scary films, but this one is entertaining and has just the right amount of spooky.

10. Stardust

Best magicians, witches and sorceresses in film and Tv. Stardust.

The main antagonist of Stardust, Lamia, is the most powerful witch in Stormhold. She lives hidden from the world with her sisters, Mormo and Empusa, waiting for the right moment to regain her rule over the land and obtain eternal beauty by eating the heart of a star. In the meantime, she consumes people to stay young and beautiful. What would a woman NOT DO for eternal beauty?!

11. Charmed

Best withes in film and tv series. Full list!

Let's face it, we’ve all watched at least a couple episodes of this long running show about the three Halliwell sisters who discover that they are descendants of a line of powerful witches. Each sister has a special ability: controlling time, moving objects, prophetic powers, and they can also use their powers together to fight all the demons in our world.

12. Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus Witches.

This Disney comedy is about three wicked witch sisters who are resurrected in Salem on Halloween night, and two teenagers who are the only ones who can stop them. Hocus Pocus is definitely a Halloween classic!

13. The Witches of Eastwick

Witches in America. Fictional characters with magical powers.

A great dark comedy about three dissatisfied witches, unaware of their powers, living in Eastwick, Rhode Island, whose lives change when a mysterious, rich man, Darvyl, moves to town.

14. The Chronicles of Narnia

Witches in film and TV. Best evil ice queen.

Queen Jadis cast a curse upon Narnia, that it shall be frozen and cold. The Long Winter she magically forced upon Narnia, earned her the title, the "White Witch".

15. Once Upon a Time

I am currently watching season 6 of Once Upon a Time, and to be perfectly honest, it is not as good as it could be. There were a couple of seasons I really liked, and of course I adore everything related to my favourite fairy tale characters, however sometimes it is painful to watch. Not all of the actors are great, the effects and props look cheap and the plot often annoys. But if there is one thing I love about it, is its Evil Queens!

16. Harry Potter

How could I leave witches from Harry Potter out of this list? 

17. Enchanted

Queen Narissa in Disney's feature hybrid film Enchanted is a beautiful, but cruel, vindictive, power-thirsty evil witch.

18. Red Priestesses in Game of Thrones

Carice van Houten has been on my radar since the Black Book film, and I am pleased she was cast as Melisandre in Game of Thrones. However, now I am also excited to see more of another Red Priestess, Kinvara, who debuts in the 6th season.

19. Penny Dreadful

Ben and I love watching this show together. It is eerie, grim, sinful and beautiful in its delicious blood stained darkness. From mysterious and powerful Vanessa Ives, to the evil coven of witches, whose every appearance makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck, this show has plenty of wicked beauties.

20. The Brothers Grimm

The Mirrored Queen, portrayed by gorgeous Monica Bellucci, is the Thuringian queen, treasured by all of Europe for her unbelievable beauty. Absorbed by her own reflection, the vain and selfish queen cares only about her appearance and uses black magic to gain eternal life and youth. I find her story one of the most compelling and I wish Hollywood made the whole film about the beautiful Mirrored Queen.

Week 4: Bridal. TOP 10 Movie Weddings

Top 10 Best Film Weddings

Aren't we all guilty of comparing our own lives to the ones we see on the movie screens? Especially when it comes to relationships and, of course, to ridiculously fun, romantic or just simply lavish and extravagant weddings! Although, real love is always better than the one you have to fake, we still can get inspired and take a note or two watching our favourite film characters tying the knot.

Top 10 Film Weddings

1. Gossip Girl

I still remember how impatiently I was waiting for every episode of Gossip Girl, and even though I am not a fan of re-watching TV Shows (unless it is Game of Thrones!), I sometimes have an extreme wave of nostalgia and an urge to watch this most fashionable show ever. 

Gossip Girl weddings. Best film and tv show brides

Blair and Chuck, Serena and Dan and Blair (again!) and Louis. Who knew the show about school gossips, loaded mean girls and teenage romances will have so many weddings after just few seasons?

2. MAMMA MIA

Even though the wedding did not quite happen, Amanda Seyfried makes a beautiful bride. A few golden details here and there, and you too can look like a Greek Goddess!

Mamma Mia Wedding Inspiration

3. TWILIGHT

I have a love/hate relationships with the Twilight saga. I think it is a very silly, poorly written and badly constructed teenage fantasy romance story, BUT I still read all the books and watched all the movies. Bella's dress in the film, made by Carolina Herrera, is very elegant and beautiful. However, my attention is devoted not to Kristen Stewart's bridal look, but to the gorgeous decor. 

Bella and Edward beautiful wedding ceremony, Twilight.

4. DOWNTON ABBEY

Hands down, one of my favourite shows. If you haven't watched it, start today! The show is filled with a romance, engagements and several weddings during six seasons of the show. Here are the ones I admire the most:

Downton Abbey Brides. Wedding Dresses

5. STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES

Being a big fan of Star Wars, I cannot miss a chance to include this short, but breathtakingly beautiful ceremony of Anakin and Padme. The scene was shot at the Villa del Balbianello that overlooks Lake Como in Italy. Absolutely perfect wedding spot! 

6. EMMA

Jane Austen is an author every bride-to-be should read. One of my top bridal looks from 'Austen's realm' is Emma's! The role was played by lovely Gwyneth Paltrow. You can actually see this and other wonderful wedding dresses from films at the Fashionable Romance exhibition, at the Biltmore House in North Carolina. Plan to visit before 4th of July as that is when the exhibition will end. I am certainly determined to travel to North Carolina now!

Best Film Weddings including adaptation of Emma by Jane Austen

7. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING

Ok, let's admit that this wedding dress is a little bit over the top. But if you want a good laugh before your own marriage ceremony, this is a comedy movie you should watch! Bonus? The sequel of this surprise hit movie is now in cinemas! 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding movie dress

8. REIGN

Adelaide Kane, who plays Mary Queen of Scots, in this absolutely NOT historically accurate TV show, is one of the most naturally gorgeous people I have ever set my eyes on. Seeing her in the wedding dress made my heart literally skip a beat. But brides can get inspired not only by that wedding episode. The whole show is filled with gowns to-die-for, thanks to Meredith Markworth-Pollack - the wonderful costume designer (who also follows me on Instagram! Yes!)

Reign Wedding Dresses. Mary Queen of Scots as a bride

9. BRIDE WARS

A female oriented comedy focusing on two beautiful brides - Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson.

Bride Wars Wedding Dresses. Top 10 film brides and weddings

10. LA REINE MARGOT

La Reine Margot is not a film for for the faint-hearted, and certainly not a pre-bridal movie to watch. Have you heard of St. Bartholomew's Day massacre? It took place five days after Margaret's de Valois (yes, Francis' sister, if you learn about history only from shows like Reign) wedding to the protestant Henry III of Navarre. It is believed that marriage was planned by Catherine de Medici (yes, Francis's mother) to gather the most wealthy Protestants in catholic Paris, in order to brutally kill them all. And we thought the 'Red Wedding' was bloody!

Red Wedding Dress at The Reign Margot movie

Well, at least the Queen Margot played by Isabelle Adjani looked stunning in her red wedding gown. Can I have that headpiece, please?

 

Week 2: War & Peace. The Book and Film Adaptations

pastiche-weekly-theme-bbc-war-and-peace-natasha-rostova

I read War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy when I was about 14 - a year or two before it would be a part of our mandatory Literature program at school. Then I re-read it again and again. For many years, War & Peace was my favourite book and I grew to love Natasha Rostova (I used to strongly relate to her, even though I did not like her much per se),  sympathise with Andrei Bolkonsky, and even feel sorry for the beautiful, but devious, Helen Kuragina.

There have been many film adaptations of Tolstoy's epic masterpiece, and I was actually very impressed with the latest effort: 2016’s 'War & Peace' BBC series starring Lilly James (love her!). The series was definitely a huge success and piqued people’s interest in the story of the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys. 

The ad for   War & Peace   (2016) series I spotted on the  Times Square, NYC

The ad for War & Peace (2016) series I spotted on the Times Square, NYC

So as you have already guessed, I want to dedicate this Theme of the Week to 'War & Peace’ and specifically to its main female protagonist: Natasha Rostova!

Let's have a look at the film adaptations of War & Peace, the actors and actresses who played major roles in them and compare them to the characters depicted in the book by Leo Tolstoy.

All actresses as Natasha Rostova in War and Peace.

First movie adaptation was a silent 1915 Russian version starring a ballerina Vera Karalli as Natasha Rostova. Tolstoy described Natasha as “black-eyed, wide-mouthed girl, not pretty but full of life...”, and Vera Karalli does fit the description. However, my favourite Natasha is Audrey Hepburn. She is gorgeous, yet has a very unique look.

Actors who played Andrei Bolkonsky in War & Peace.  Актеры сыгравшие Андрея Болконского и Ростову в фильме Война и Мир

Helen Kuragina is the only character in the War & Peace that is described as exceptionally physically beautiful, although she is an ultimate female antagonist. Making a negative character so easy on the eyes was unlikely in the Russian literature of that times. Here is the little quote about Helen from the book:

Napoleon himself had noticed her [Helen] in the theater and said of her: "C'est un superbe animal." Her success as a beautiful and elegant woman did not surprise Pierre, for she had become even handsomer than before".

All actresses who played the role of Helen Kuragina in War and Peace. Все актрисы сыгравшие роль Эллен Курагиной в романе Льва Толстого Война и Мир

It is interesting to note that with every passing adaptation, Helen Kuragina looks thinner and thinner! From curvaceous Anita Ekberg to skinny and fair Middleton, Kuragina's character has been depicted according to beauty standards of the times films have been created.

I personally enjoy watching Anita Ekberg's and Fiona Gaunt's acting as Helen Kuragina, however find Irina Skobtceva in Sergei Bondarchuk's Oscar winning adaptation absolutely inappropriate. Irina was almost 40 when she played the role of the young and stunning Kuragina. How such miscast could happen? Well, did you know that Irina Skobtceva was film director Sergei Bondarchuk's wife at the time? That explains a lot, doesn't it? :)

pierre-bezukhov-actors-film-tv-bbc-anthony-hopkins-andrei-bolkonsky

Do you enjoy posts like this one? Let me know in the comments section below or via email: ulya.aliyeva@gmail.com

P.S. Don't forget to come back to the blog as I will pastiche fashion looks of Natasha Rostova this week!