Wyrd Sisters
directed by Jean Flynn
(Cosgrove Hall, 1996)

It's leaner, meaner and ultimately superior to Soul Music. Wyrd Sisters, by no means a perfect adaptation of the Terry Pratchett novel, is far more likely to satisfy fans of the popular Discworld series.

The plot deals with three witches -- Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick -- each of whom has very different ideas about witchery. It deals with a murdered king, a sinister duke and a bullying duchess. There's a fool, a thespian, a headless ghost and a hungry one, and a foul-smelling cat. There are bits of Shakespeare, but little besides a "nuncle" or two to confuse the language. There's magic and torture and suspicious pieces of sausage, and a great deal to do with the power of words to alter reality.

The animated adaptation was made alongside a similar made-for-the-BBC version of Soul Music. But while the latter was overlong (at 175 minutes), Wyrd Sisters was trimmed to 140 minutes. The cartoon style is weak in both, but Wyrd seems more focused as the story flows along. While streamlined, it's also very true to Pratchett's original tale.

Most of the story is rightly devoted to the witches, and the vocal talents of BBC actresses Annette Crosbie, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks give exactly the right tone to each. Christopher Lee also makes a few brief appearances as Death, a vocal role he seems born for.

Some of the humor might catch some Yanks off-guard, particularly if they haven't read the book, but this production is primarily designed for Pratchett fans anyway. But surely everyone can enjoy the slightly Shakespearean hijinks, and the witches' antics will generate some hearty guffaws from Pratchett devotees and novices alike.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 29 March 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.