Twenty years of ‘Practical Magic’
Practical Magic is without a doubt one of my most treasured, most favourite, most all-time everything movies. There is nothing about this film that I would change, nothing that I don’t adore.
Yesterday, October 16, marked twenty years since the film was released into cinemas around the world. I had no idea that Practical Magic Day was a thing (and it may not be a thing but I am making it one), but as soon as I stumbled across the exciting anniversary all of the nostalgia of the movie came roaring back. Based on the novel by Alice Hoffman of the same name, Practical Magic has always been mum’s and my movie. Whenever it is on television or one of us is watching it, we always let the other one know. And when we have had those rare few hours together during the day, it is and always will be our first choice of flick.
This is so much “our movie” that for mum’s fiftieth birthday which is this coming February, I had always planned on throwing her a Practical Magic themed birthday party. I was going to send her out for the day and completely deck her house out with hundreds of candles, fairy lights, rose petals, vines, apothecary jars, vials and bottles. I was going to have margaritas served with lime in a coconut and source the brand of tequila that Jimmy Angelo drank. I don’t know how I am going to achieve this as I will have a newborn, but I haven’t abandoned this plan yet, nor do I want to.
You know that list of ‘Beautiful Words You Never Knew Existed’? I am of the firm belief that there should be one dedicated to the feelings that are aroused when you watch Practical Magic.
The curse that we are introduced to in the prologue of the film sets up the movie nicely, and where love is concerned – especially overwhelming, all-consuming, heart-wrenchingly aching love – I cannot help but get attached. And then there is the house, and the gardens, and Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman’s long ethereal hair, and the aunties, and the scene where they all get drunk on margaritas.
Every single time I watch this film, without fail, I am left yearning to live in a small town like the one the Owens’ family live, in the exact house that they live in. What is not to love about that big, old, rambling house full of weathered timber and mystery. The kitchen is my ideal kitchen – naked shelves and glass cupboards, a deep porcelain sink almost big enough for me to bathe in, a simple island bench and that stunning sun-room just through the doors that is filled with apothecary glasses and vials, herbs and flowers. There is something so rich and intoxicating about that sunroom and again, I feel that there is no word to encapsulate the longing feeling that it instils in me. I immediately get this unquenchable desire to run my hands over the work bench, inspect all the bottles and jars and their contents and shove my face into all of the flowers.
The entire house is the stuff that my dreams are made of. A super-sized cottage with views of the ocean – and I can only imagine what the waves sound like crashing against that cliff face. The winding staircase whose creaks would become familiar underfoot, the picket white fence and don’t even get me started on all of the garden bed action – and the outdoor pergola frame that is wrapped in roses. Perhaps it is the writer in me, but all I can imagine when I watch Practical Magic is waking up of a morning, making a coffee, taking myself outside and spending the morning reading or writing in one picturesque corner of the garden or another. I imagine the stormy nights where the window shutters would rattle on their hinges and the sound of the rain hitting the windows.
But even more than that, it is Sandra Bullock’s character, Sally, that I really relate to. Her desire for a quiet, simple life is something that resonates with me so deeply. I also like her hair very much, especially when it is in those loose plaits when the aunties, her and Gillian are all dancing around drinking margaritas.
Even before I fell pregnant I had started to piece together and want a simple, quiet, happy life. For a while, I didn’t know what that meant for me or what that would look like but I cannot help but draw similarities from the fictional life of Sally Owens; I would love to own and run my own little store that is filled with things that I have created (preferably by magic), I want to live a life with my children and a partner that I am madly in love with, I want to just fit in without having to hide who I am, my quirks or my past.
And what about that scene where Sally’s daughters find her old diary and start piecing together the fact that the cop is the man Sally wished for all those years ago? Come on. Romantic, cute, adorable and I weep every damn time. And then later on in the movie he says, “I wished for you too,” and then she breaks down and everything is sad but beautiful. Also, heartbroken Sandra Bullock is never not heartbreaking.
The characters in general are all so different and varied and each have so much of their own personality.
The dancing naked under the moonlight.
The chocolate cake for breakfast.
I could go on.
Aside from all of that which is all very personal to me, the movie has witches in it. And there is just something so cult-y and wonderful and curious and intriguing about witches. Think Hocus Pocus or even Morticia from The Addams Family (I know she wasn’t a witch but Anjelica Huston in that dress is everything), these women are rebels of a whole different class. Men are bewitched by them, other women scold them and yet they remain firm in who they are and powerful. Practical Magic seems to have just gotten under mum’s and my skin and just stayed there and I cannot wait to celebrate this day in another year, another two years, ten, twenty, as many as I am alive for.