The Craft

‘The Craft’s’ (1996) Lessons On Power Stand The Test Of Time

The Craft is undergoing the remake treatment fairly soon, and like many reimaginings, people will soon start the contentious debate over whether it’s a good idea. All that aside, let’s remember that we can always look back to the original film, regardless of how the new one pans out.

Let’s talk about what works well in Andrew Fleming’s original 1996 film. The Craft certainly doesn’t shy away from potentially controversial themes, which is sometimes good. At the same time, it doesn’t exactly follow a forced narrative, where it beats the viewer over the head with cheap morality lessons. In fact, none of the witches in this film are heroes in the conventional sense, and we learn that their powers are actually easily abused. In that sense, The Craft is very much a story about actions having consequences. Sure, some of these actions and reactions are complicated by the use of magic powers, but the implications of retaliation are clear.

An obvious example is with the character of Rochelle (Rachel True), who is constantly belittled by a racist classmate (Christine Taylor). While Rochelle’s initial revenge is sweet, the spell ultimately traumatizes her as well as her target. Nancy (Fairuza Balk) uses her magic to kill her stepfather and then goes on to become power mad. Sarah (Robin Tunney) foolishly casts a love spell on classmate Chris Hooker (Skeet Ulrich), who had previously treated her disrespectfully after going on a date. Because of the spell, he ends up being a little too obsessed with her. Lastly, Bonnie (Neve Campbell) becomes narcissistic after healing a scar on her back.

By Manon! What It All Means

While we can easily disregard the existence of any deity named Manon, we do learn that the dangers of having power (even if not being all powerful) is a very real thing. That’s why The Craft isn’t just a teen movie, nor is it fair to dismiss it as some feminist diatribe. It’s actually a fairly apolitical film that examines life as it really occurs and asks what could happen if ordinary people – or misfits, in this case – could suddenly bend people to their will. What ultimately happens is that the girls’ advantages become almost disempowering as they interfere with life’s natural flow. Just like the proverbial butterfly wing flutter that causes a hurricane, there’s a sense that life’s chaos is natural, and that trying too hard to control it results only in further destruction. That’s not to say The Craft perfectly spells this concept out, but it’s a readily available interpretation. It does address the nature of power.

It’s similar to how, at first, the life of a king or dictator may seem grand. They often let their new authority go to their heads, which leads to political problems such as assassination attempts and attacks from other empires. In fact, it’s inevitable that turmoil finds the powerful. The same is true of The Craft and its witch coven. The girls end up fighting each other, as they cannot simply share their power peacefully. No, one of them simply must become the leader, call the shots and make the others grovel.

Final Thoughts

While The Craft isn’t a perfect movie, it is entertaining and even thought-provoking, especially to younger audiences. Its messages are a little more complex than one might expect, which is precisely why some people love it. Whether the remake catches this film’s magic or not, it’s safe to say that we’ll still have this film in our collections. Then again, maybe the remake will be good. Who knows? Maybe fans of the original can “bind” the studio from making a lesser remake. In any case, we should reserve judgment until the new movie is fully unleashed upon the world. It’s Manon’s will!

What do you think of The Craft? Let us know in the comments!

About wadewainio

Wade is a wannabe artist and musician (operating under the moniker Grandpa Helicopter), and an occasional radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. He is an occasional writer for Undead Walking, and also makes up various blogs of his own. He even has a few books in the works. Then again, doesn't everyone?

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