Mary and the Witch’s Flower is an animated children’s fantasy film directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi and produced by Studio Ponoc. It follows Mary Smith as she finds the rare fly-by-night flower, also known as the witch’s flower, which gives her temporary magical powers.
1—The Start of an Adventure
We start off with a building engulfed in flames and a young woman running, and then flying on a broomstick, away. She crashes and the magic seeds she’s carrying go flying off into the woods. Fast forward some years later, and we come to Mary, a bored little girl who’s moved in with her great aunt. She’s waiting for for her parents to move out there as well and for school to start so other kids will be in the village for her to play with. A pair of cats lead her to a mysterious flower, which she picks and brings home. Later, one of the cats leads her to a broom stuck in the undergrowth. That same cat then gives her a bud from the flower and Mary accidentally squashes it, getting sticky stuff all over her hands and the broom handle. Strange marks appear on Mary’s palms, and the broomstick takes off with Mary and the cat, taking them through the clouds to Endor College for Witches, where the first rule is “trespassers will be transformed.”
2—A Beautiful Film
Mary and the Witch’s Flower drips with lush scenery. From the English countryside, especially the forest, to the more magical landscape of Endor College, every detail is lovingly rendered. The clouds were perfect, important in a movie with so many flying scenes. There’s a sense of gravity as well as defiance of gravity appropriate to magical flight. And the magic is always spectacular.
The characters in the movie were spot on. Mary, who hates her red hair and just wants to help but is really terrible at it, no matter what she’s trying to help with. Peter, who calls Mary a red-haired monkey but despite this bad first impression is a good kid who just wants to help his mom make ends meet. There’s Madam Mumblechook, the head of Endor College, and Dr. Dee, a professor there, who seem eccentric and caring but harbor a dangerous obsession with transformation. There’s also Mary’s great aunt Charlotte, a sweet old lady who loves Mary’s impetuousness, and her house keeper Miss Banks who is adept at catching things, and the quiet estate gardener Zebedee. The broomstick itself has quite the personality, despite not speaking, and then there’s Flanagan, the broomstick stable keeper at Endor College, who always shows up at the right time with Mary’s broomstick.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower was a fun film, full of magic and a spunky little girl as it’s beating heart. Although she gets everyone into trouble, accidentally, she also is committed to putting things right and saving Peter from Madam and Dr. Dee’s experiments, even though she doesn’t like him. After all, she does like his cats.