Prominent members of the disability community, including Paralympians and the Paralympic Games organizers, have objected to the portrayal of eponymous characters in The Witches, which is based on a Roald Dahl novel of the same name.
In the film, which stars Anne Hathaway, her character is portrayed with hands similar to those of people with the limb abnormality ectrodactyly, otherwise known as “split hand.” The abnormality is characterized by the absence of one or more central digits on the hand or foot.
Swimmer Amy Marren was the first to note the issue. She tweeted at Warner Bros: “was there much thought given as to how this representation of limb differences would effect the limb difference community?!”
Disability advocate Shannon Crossland stated on Instagram that the imagery in the film was “no way a reflection of the original novel written by Roald Dahl”.
“Is this the kind of message we want the next generation to receive. That having three fingers is a witch’s attribute? It is an extremely damaging portrayal. Disability should NOT be associated with evil, abnormality, disgust, fear or monsters,” she added.
A Warner Bros. spokesperson told Deadline it had been “deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities” and that it “regretted any offense caused”.
“In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book,” they added. “It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them.”
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, The Witches was released onHBO Max October 22nd.