This Villain was Headlined on August, 2014.
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|“||Better is no good either! I demand maximum results!||„|
|~ The Grand High Witch to her followers.|
|“||A stupid witch who answers back must BURN UNTIL HER BONES ARE BLACK! A foolish witch without a brain, must sizzle into fire and flame! An idiotic witch like you, must roast upon the barbecue! A witch who dares to say I'm wrong, will not be with us... VERY LONG!||„|
|~ The Grand High Witch, before zapping and killing another Witch who questioned her.|
|“||Y-you're doomed, old woman! You're doomed forever!||„|
|~ Eva Ernst (Grand High Witch) pointing her spoon at Helga as her witches turn into mice.|
The Grand High Witch more commonly known as Evangeline Ernst is the main antagonist of the 1983 children's book The Witches by Roald Dahl and the 1990 and 2020 dark fantasy film adaptations of the same name.
She was portrayed by Anjelica Huston in the 1990 film, who also played Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent in Ever After, Emily Grierson in the television adaptation of A Rose For Emily, Miss Battle-Axe in the film adaptation of Horrid Henry, Miss Harridan in the 2003 film Daddy Day Care, and Queen Usurna from Tales of Arcadia. In the upcoming 2020 film, she will be portrayed by Anne Hathaway, who also played Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.
As one of the most influential and powerful sorceresses on Earth, she leads a secret society of like-minded witches in their never-ending quest to kill and torture children.
In the past, the Grand High Witch faced off against Helga Evesheim (Luke's grandmother) during the latter's quest to find out more about witches, and even considered her an "old adversary" upon their chance meeting at the hotel in England.
During each and every single meeting that she ever attended, she would murder one of her own followers simply to keep the other witches focused. This was considered to be her ultimate punishment, and the other witches were terrified of her.
The Grand High Witch especially had a plan that would climax in turning all the children of England into mice, to be disposed of either by the witches themselves, or by their unsuspecting parents. She demonstrates her formula by inviting a boy called Bruno, who had been previously given a chocolate with the formula, as he slowly turns into a mouse. However, the meeting was being eavesdropped by Luke, a boy who was in the hotel with his grandmother Helga, who warned him about witches and is implied to have faced the Grand High Witch before.
One of the witches catches the scent of Luke, so the Grand High Witch tracks him down and force-feeds him her formula, turning him into a mouse as well. He manages to escape and meet with Bruno, the two going after Helga's room, where they plan to stop the witches plan.
Luke manages to steal the formula and slip it on the witches soup.
In the end, the Grand High Witch suffered a somewhat fitting demise when her own magic was used against her and she (along with all of her followers, except Susan Irvine whom she banned in the celebration) is transformed into a mouse. While the mice-transformed witches run rampant around the hotel and are killed by the staff, the Grand High Witch is killed by the hotel manager Mr. Stringer, who uses a cleaver to slice her in half (or, in the book, the head chef, who cuts her up with a carving knife).
|“||Then that's just too bad for the grown-up!||„|
|~ The Grand High Witch showing her disregard or contempt for other beings.|
One of her favorite ways to dispose of children was to turn them into animals their parents hated, and have the parents kill their own children, thinking they were pests. Her contempt also expands to any witch who dares to question her, even to bring up valid points, and because of this, all other witches live in total fear and submission of her. Her meetings usually involve her killing any disobedient witch, as shown when she vaporizes a witch into pure steam because she doubted her plan could actually work. Luke's grandmother even suggests that the Grand High Witch possibly deliberately kills a witch yearly, just to keep the others on their toes (well, metaphorically speaking, as one of the characteristics of witches is their lack of toes).
Although the Grand High Witch does not hate human adults like she does children, she still cares little for them, and she doesn't mind if she accidentally kills them, even if she does not mean or wish for it to happen. Being a witch, she is considered a separate species from humans and is motivated to hate children, as her well-developed nose makes them smell like dog feces to her. The Grand High Witch is also a complete sadist, as shown when she keeps some frogs on her hotel suite (regardless the frogs were either normal or people whom she transformed in the past), letting them to be on her room one last night before throwing them off the window to be devoured by seagulls the next morning.
She relishes children's anguish and death as much as one relishes cream and strawberries. In the movie she even derives orgasmic levels of gratification from slaughtering children, and laughs at her victims as they squeal and beg for mercy.
Despite all these negative traits, the Grand High Witch seems to have some kind of mercy when one witch gives a stupid suggestion, choosing to not incinerate her despite that all other witches believed she would do it like she did with the previous witch as all she did was just rebuking her. However, it's likely that the Grand High Witch didn't kill her just because either the witch could still be useful for her plans or her incineration energy takes a time to recharge. Even so, the Grand High Witch appears to be generous at some degree with the eldest British witches, whom she decides to give the ingredients of her formula in gratitude of all her years of servitude after realizing they are too old to obtain them, but once again, it's possible that she only supplies the ingredients to them as long they are still useful to her plans.
Powers and Abilities
Being the grand high witch of all the witches in the world, she was a master of magic and witchcraft, and how to utilize it to kill children. She was very skilled at brewing potions, as shown with her personally crafted formula to transform humans into mice. She also had pyrokinesis, as she could incinerate any witch who disobeyed her or to keep the others focused simply by sending beams of fire from her eyes. The Grand High Witch, along with her witch underlings, also has an enhanced sense of smell, in which she can identify the presence of children.
- According to Luke's Grandmother, the Grand High Witch is "the most evil woman in creation". Unlike the other witches, she wishes to kill all the children in England.
- It should be noted that while in the book, the Grand High Witch is the first witch to transform into a mouse, in the movie she is the last (unless you count Susan Irvine, who did not transform at all).
- Unlike the other witches, who at least show a little concern for adults, the Grand High Witch has no results for collateral damage in her schemes. This is shown when a witch asks what would happen if an adult consumed their formula, and the Grand High Witch replies, "Then that's just too bad for the grownup".
- In the book, the Grand High Witch does not take off her gloves, wig or shoes which implies she has more to hide, while she does do so in the film.
- In the book, it is revealed that the Grand High Witch is Norwegian, and she is also a famous baroness in Norway.
- While not confirmed, the film heavily hints that the Grand High Witch was the witch Helga met when she was little, and likely the one responsible for which she lost one of her thumbs, given that the Grand High Witch refers to her as an "old adversary". In the book, Helga never tells Luke why she lost her thumb or how her only encounter with a witch on her childhood consisted, with the excuse it could give him nightmares, leading Luke to speculate on what the witch could have did with his grandmother's thumb.
- In a Google Hangout, Lucy Dahl revealed that the Grand High Witch was in part based on her stepmother. Lucy stated it was not her stepmother's personality, but the look and social status that was the inspiring factor. Lucy also seriously stated she wasn't entirely convinced witches were fiction, citing a neighbor who, "If Witches are real, she's one of them."
- The Grand High Witch has countless subordinates, including Nicola Cuttle, the Woman in Black, and Lois Leffour.
- Although Roald Dahl hated the film due to the changed ending (as he had wanted to keep the original ending with Luke remaining a mouse and he and his grandmother vowing to spend the rest of their lives stopping other witches in other countries), calling the adaptation "utterly appalling", he loved Anjelica Huston's performance.