6 reasons why Practical Magic still resonates with women today
It’s that time of year, when you’re reminded to don your pointed black hat, cast a spell or two, and let out your inner witch—and what better way to do that than by watching the feminist cult classic Practical Magic? The 1998 film features everything from a family curse to an amazing soundtrack, and, of course, Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock as witch sisters Gillian and Sally Owens.
For centuries, “witch” has been a cultural label for women who defy societal expectations, carve out independent lives for themselves, and fight back. Practical Magic viewers get to witness this rebellious spirit and more when, hand in hand, the Owens sisters break curses, get ostracized in their hometown, and defend themselves against a murderous ex-boyfriend. As women in the Trump era, we are still fighting sexism and violence, so it is no wonder why countless women continue to be inspired by these iconic witches.
Here are just some of the reasons why Practical Magic will bring out your defiant feminist spirit and awaken the magic within you:
1It proves the power of sisterhood.
Throughout the entire movie, it is Sally and Gillian against the world. Their story begins as little girls enduring cruel childhood bullying, and continues as they support each other in their tenuous, cursed, and, at times, abusive relationships. Together, these two prove that the world is a little less scary when you have a true partner in crime backing you up. Whether you are sisters through blood or bond, it is important to let the women in your life know that you will be there for them.
2It reminds us to live outside of our comfort zones.
Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman) is the outgoing, adventurous sister, while Sally (Sandra Bullock) wants nothing more than to blend in. Unlike Sally, Gillian is not afraid to leave her hometown behind in search of new experiences, whether it’s just dancing poolside to chasing romance. When you watch Practical Magic, you can be inspired by Gillian’s desire for excitement and freedom, or by the fact that, even if their lives are different, Gillian and Sally will be there for each other in an instant when times get hard—no matter where and no matter why.
3It addresses the danger of possessive, volatile relationships.
When Gillian comes home to visit Sally, she talks of her new boyfriend, Jimmy Angelov, and describes the relationship as all passion. The audience soon senses Jimmy may be abusive when, with a giggle, Gillian admits to Sally that she sometimes needs to slip a little belladonna into his wine to get some peace. Sally is concerned for her sister and tries to help her realize that this behavior isn’t normal. Later on, we see just how dangerous and violent Jimmy really is, and together, they fight back against his abuse, saving their own lives.
4Never forget that you don’t need a knight in shining armor.
While there are several love interests in Practical Magic, at no point does an Owens woman need a man to save her. Their own magic and the strength of other women is what saves them from evil men.
5When women support other women, our power is endless.
All that was needed to vanquish the monstrous villain Jimmy Angelov was a school-sanctioned phone tree, a little magic, and the power of women. When it becomes clear that the Owens women can’t save Gillian from Jimmy on their own, they seek the help of the townswomen. Look what happens when women work together instead of tearing each other down.
6It celebrates romantic love and friendship love.
“Fall in love whenever you can.” These are the parting words of advice from Sally Owens at the end of the movie. It may be a romantic sentiment, but I always thought it could be applied to sisterhood. After all, the true power of love in Practical Magic is displayed through Gillian and Sally’s friendship, whether it’s killing Jimmy Angelov or breaking Sally free from her grief after the curse kills her husband. Their love for each other is what conquers all.