Winter of the Witch

I remember a short film I saw a few times in elementary a couple times. It is just over 22 minutes long, and for some reason I just thought about it yesterday for the first time in decades.

A woman and her young son buy an sprawling, old mansion for a pittance. When they arrive they find it is inhabited by an old witch. The witch is sad and foul tempered and bemoans she is “old and unwanted. The world’s so full of evil nowadays that people don’t need witches anymore.”

They form a stable coexistence, and the young boy and the witch become friends. One morning, the witch cooks up a batch of her magic blueberry pancakes. Upon the first bite, the diner is struck with a burst of happiness. Mom and son open a pancake parlor, which becomes popular and successful, and spreads a lot of joy.

At the end of the short film, the boy and the witch go for a walk, and the witch opines:

“[In the old days] people needed a little scare now and then. But times have changed. People are already scared. They need something they can believe in. I’ve given them something to believe in: the goodness of the pancakes.

“Watch. Watch how people are eating my pancakes. They’re all happy. Some of them are happy for the first time in their life…And when people are happy, then they want to make other people happy.

“Someday, when everyone is happy, then…I’m going to start scaring them again!”

It’s a short, simple TV film with a low budget. It was made in 1969, and you might recognize the voice of the narrator: Burgess Meredith (who played Rocky’s trainer).

Funny how in 1969 a fictional witch who had lived for 300 years observed that “people are already scared.”

Not sure why this film came to my mind some 40 years after my last viewing. You can watch this simple and charming film here:

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