Why ‘The Witch Boy’ Could Be An Important Movie For Netflix

Netflix will continue its foray into animation with a musical adaptation of Molly Knox Ostertag’s The Witch Boy. The streamer has also tapped some top-notch talent to bring the award-winning graphic novel to life. Oscar-nominated director Minkyu Lee (Adam and the Dog) will helm the movie from a script by Escape Room’s Maria Melnik. Elsewhere, Grammy-nominated band Haim will provide the tunes.

The Witch Boy is set in a secret, magical community where girls are born to be witches and the boys grow into shapeshifters. Not everyone wants to assume their birth-given roles, however. Aster, a young lad, possesses some extraordinary magical abilities and wants to pursue the life of witchcraft instead. When a demonic danger threatens his world, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery and learns all about his powers and magic itself.

Lee is excited to be involved in the project, too. In a statement included with the press release, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker talked about what the story means to her and what she hopes to accomplish with the film adaptation.

“It has been a life-long dream of mine to create an animated film that pushes the medium forward, both in content and form. The connection between this dream, my experiences, and Aster and Juniper’s story is what draws me to this film every day. I am grateful to be creating this with the wonderful team at Netflix. My hope is that this film, by celebrating queerness and “otherness,” will come to audiences around the world as something truly special.”

If the movie lives up to the power of the books, audiences can expect to see a children’s movie that promotes inclusion and doesn’t insult the intelligence of younger viewers. While the graphic novels were written for primary and elementary school children, they deal with some weighty and thought-provoking themes that feed the soul.

The Witch Boy is a story that rejects traditional gender roles and promotes individuality, arguing that forced conformity and pre-assigned roles do more harm than good. Ostertag’s message is strong enough to resonate with younger and older readers alike, and she presents it in a way that’s accessible and utterly heartwarming.

The cast of characters is also very diverse, and they each bring a unique perspective to the story. Charlie, for example, is a human girl who befriends Aster and helps him discover his spirit and sense of adventure. The villainous Mikasi, on the other hand, is a sympathetic villain who represents the downside of acting out against forced conformity. Saying any more would spoil the magic, but I urge everyone to check out the source material before the movie arrives.

The beauty of movies and literature is that they wield the power to approach their audiences with the big issues from a safe distance. The core audience for The Witch Boy is made up of young people who are trying to make sense of the world and fit in, while simultaneously coping with peer pressure and the societal expectations of them. Stories like this are key to making kids realise that it’s not only okay to be different, it’s also kind of awesome.

Fiction is also a great tool for instilling positive values in youngsters. The Witch Boy, and tales with a similar worldview, promote ideals such as acceptance and unity. It also doesn’t hurt when they represent these ideas with an abundance of imagination and depth. That’s where The Witch Boy really shines.

According to Ostertag, her goal with The Witch Boy saga was to make her readers feel “seen and represented.” The idea was sparked after she noticed a lack of books for kids and teenagers that followed male characters who gravitated towards things that are “traditionally feminine.” It’s rare to see movies deal with these topics as well, which is why The Witch Boy could be a breath of fresh air.

Should the film be a success, it could also spawn some sequels. There are currently three graphic novels to mine from, and Netflix is undoubtedly open to the prospect of having a potentially successful franchise on their hands. That remains to be seen, but imagining the possibilities is all part of the fun.

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