For centuries, the ever-evolving, complex power of women has challenged and even terrified many men. The Puritans who settled in America during the 17th century believed females were the physically weaker gender, making them “easier targets” for Satan to use as witches. Societal norms also dictated that women be submissive and quiet, so a female who used coarse language or was self-sufficient had an increased risk of being accused of practicing witchcraft.
Though 21st century women are not often accused of being “ugly” witchcraft practitioners, strong, commanding, and self-sufficient women are still viewed far too often with suspicion. It’s enough to make one want to hop on a broom and fly away. But we’d rather decompress with a bit of levity by reclaiming the witch as a powerful and complex female symbol (and embrace Halloween simultaneously). And what better place to start than with some of cinema’s most spellbinding beauties, who played good witches, bad witches, and everything in between.
Take a look at our top ten movie witches and let us know if we included your fave.
Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic (1998): America’s sweetheart emanates an earthy grace as a rural mom/witch spellbound by a detective investigating her bad-girl sister.
Billie Burke in The Wizard of Oz (1939): Glinda the Good—along with her emerald sister—taught us that outward beauty shrivels up and dies when inward beauty is ignored.
Lena Horne in The Wiz (1978): At age 61, the legendary performer and civil rights activist lent her unique sparkle and considerable beauty to this modern take on Glinda the Good.
Angelica Huston in The Witches (1990): While the film’s High Grand Witch’s beauty is less than skin deep, this Oscar-winner is a smashing example of unconventional loveliness.
Angelina Jolie in Maleficent (2014): Sure, she was really a faerie, but in our book that counts. Besides, she was stunning — and not just because the actress and UN ambassador’s regal beauty is commanded our attention.
Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch (1942): With her famous peekaboo hairstyle (the 1940s equivalent of the “Rachel”), this winsome witch could seduce a mortal with just one eye.
Kim Novak in Bell, Book and Candle (1958): The curvy blond cast a love spell on Vertigo costar James Stewart in this inspiration for Bewitched.
Emma Watson in the Harry Potter films (2001-2011): Brit witch Hermione grew up in front of our eyes to become a beautiful young Wallflower.
13 Most Fun Halloween Movies Ever
Still in the mood for Halloween fun? Check out the slide show below, or read the full story here.