Monday, July 31, 2017

Cute Couples: THE LOVE WITCH & SEASON OF THE WITCH

by Alejandra Gonzales
The Perfect Pair: an elusive fantasy we spend what feels like our entire lives trying to actualize. The truth is, I’ve learned that The Perfect Pair isn’t sought after, but rather stumbled upon by happenstance.

It’s the mundane things we overlook: peanut butter and jelly, a good movie and buttered popcorn, tricks and treats, and my newest discovery, Anna Biller’s The Love Witch and George Romero’s Season of the Witch. Romero’s hidden treasure, being the elder in this relationship (1973 versus 2016, but age ain't nothing but a number), offers plenty of visual and thematic inspiration for The Love Witch without being direct imitations of each other. It makes these a double-feature match made in Heaven...or Hell, really.
Being both clearly about witches, the similarities between these two may feel TOO obvious. However, what makes The Love Witch perfect for Season of the Witch is how they each use witchcraft as a vessel by which to explore feminism and the importance of recognizing a woman’s individuality. The protagonists of both delve into witchcraft (and therefore their own empowerment) after finding that they are unable and unwilling to meet the expectations placed on them by the surrounding world. In Season of the Witch, Joan is bored with life as a subservient housewife whose only role has been that of a mother and a lover. The opening scene, which happens to be one of my all-time favorites, depicts Joan being forcefully dragged around by her husband on a leash. In other words: her biggest nightmare is being everybody’s bitch, and she’s living it (me too, girl). After seeking witchcraft because of its enticing principles, Joan also finds with it sexual liberation and the freedom to fulfill a purpose she set for herself as opposed to one placed on her by others. While I don’t think Romero was aiming to be progressive the way Biller might have been, there’s no denying that Season of the Witch was organically ahead of its time in that regard. What’s even more interesting is the way the same concepts are explored in The Love Witch over 40 years later. Elaine (Samantha Robinson) has similarly sought witchcraft as a means by which to empower herself after an emotionally abusive marriage. The Love Witch presents us with flashbacks that interrupt its otherwise dreamy ambience to portray Elaine’s past as a nightmare. They are very reminiscent of the ones Joan has in Season of the Witch depicting her fear of subservience. The movies also end similarly, with Joan and Elaine both killing the men who became obstacles in achieving their self-actualization. To some, this paints the women as vengeful, but I would argue that it perfectly articulates the dangers of a repressed woman. Still, seeking revenge on horrible men doesn’t seem like a half bad idea after watching these two consecutively.
Having so much in common thematically is only the dawn of a beautiful relationship between these two that is strengthened by their thematic differences. Elaine and Joan, while both pursuing empowerment, seek it for different reasons. What Elaine really wants is revenge and power over men, so she uses sex and love to get it. Joan simply wants to be recognized as a real person with desires, sexual fantasies, and her own ambitions. This may make Elaine seem slightly unlikeable to some (unless you’re me, of course), but it provokes an interesting question: is she inherently evil or is she this way because of the society around her? The women are driven towards witchcraft because of their oppressive experiences, after all. The differences between Elaine and Joan make the relationship between the films stronger, and reinforce the fact that every woman is different and individual. This is true no matter how much they have in common, which is also the case with both movies.

Because of its over-acting and surreal imagery, The Love Witch feels like Season of the Witch’s cheeky, more satirical lover. While their perspectives are the same, they convey their opinions differently. The Love Witch adopts a light-hearted sense of humor on the outside until you really get to know what’s going on underneath the surface. Season of the Witch is slightly stern and asks to be taken more seriously, but still knows how to have a good time. The Love Witch is also much younger but fosters an old soul in its style. Its awe-inspiring imagery is made up of highly saturated colors dancing on the screen in the form of costumes and d├ęcor; it is not only reminiscent of dreams, but of the genre itself in the '70s. Still, because of the technology presented in the movie, The Love Witch doesn’t pretend to be set in the decade. It makes the stylistic similarities more of a love letter to Season of the Witch and other movies like it. Both movies create an atmosphere that oozes feminine energy without being something only women would enjoy. Everyone will be able to appreciate the wit driven dialogue and the character depth in each movie, as it makes them both super entertaining and engaging. This dynamic sets up for an explosive chemistry that will leave viewers under their love spells for a long time afterward.
If you’ve ever found yourself feeling a little cynical about romance, the love story between Season of the Witch and The Love Witch will restore your faith in The Perfect Pair. I find myself particularly invested in their relationship because I believe in what they represent and stand behind. After a night with them both, it’s hard to favor one over the other. In fact, I almost like them more when I watch them together. They complement each other in such a way that it almost feels like two parts of one super-witchy saga.

When they met, it was lust at first sight, Season of the Witch seeing a lot of itself in the vibrant and whimsical atmosphere developed in The Love Witch. A deeper connection was found in the similar principles and attitudes toward womanhood that both movies explore. Despite their age difference, these two are ideal together, and will likely not be seen without each other for some time. I sincerely hope that the love story between Season of the Witch and The Love Witch is one that is shared for a long time and has the ability to sway the non-believers.

4 comments:

  1. Well actually...great column :-)

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  2. Great. But she formed into witch just by face. Her hairs and other skin is not formed into witch in a perfect way.

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  3. I saw Season of the Witch at a Massacre 4 or 5 years ago, probably at 2 in the morning, so I can't say I remember much, if any of it. Looking forward to that new release to see how it pairs up with The Love Witch. Sounds like a great double feature!

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