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Bronwen’s Top Ten Non-Pagan Pagan Movies

Author: Bronwen Forbes [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: July 11th. 2010
Times Viewed: 12,018

Hollywood has a long illustrious history of not being very kind to us Pagans/Witches. In 1939, The Wizard of Oz gave the world (and the creators of Halloween decorations) the notion that we’re all supposed to have green skin. Later, films like the original Wicker Man, Practical Magic, The Witches of Eastwick and Hocus Pocus gave the movie-going public the impression that we as a people are, in turn, amoral killers, amoral teenagers, amoral housewives and amoral idiots. None of which is true, of course, and not the impression we’d like people to have about our chosen faith!

However, despite its best efforts, the film industry has actually managed to produce some movies that, while they don’t specifically mention Pagans or other magical folk, have something of value for us. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your Pagan lessons while consuming mass quantities of salt and greasy butter-flavored corn product, here – in no particular order – are my top ten favorite non-Pagan yet somehow Pagan movies:

1. The Secret of Roan Inish. (1994, directed by John Sayles. Rated PG) An Irish family with purportedly selkie blood loses a child when he and his cradle float out to sea. In their grief and pain, they abandon their cottage on Roan Inish Island and move to a city on the mainland. The child’s older sister tries to bring the family back together by restoring the old cottage on Roan Inish, and in the process finds her baby brother. Irish folk customs and selkie lore – what’s not to love?

2. Into the West. (1992, starring Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Colm, Meaney. Rated PG) Another fascinating contemporary treatment of Irish folklore. After the death of their tinker mother, two young boys are having a hard time adjusting to city life. Inspired by their grandfather’s stories of Tir Na Nog, they steal a horse – unfortunately, the horse already belongs to a cruel, wealthy man. The resulting cross-country race to conceal/retrieve the horse beautifully showcases the Irish countryside and, again, illustrates some of the finer points of Irish folklore.

3. Willow (1988, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley. Rated PG) A classic quest-with-problems tale, but there’s a nice maiden/mother/crone motif throughout the movie. Also, coven leaders will love the scene where the crone is trying to teach the hero magic. It’s so true!

4. Shrek. (2001, voiced by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow. Rated PG) Ogre meets girl, ogre loses girl, ogre discovers girl is also an ogre and they live happily ever after. A typical romance, but Pagans should take particular note of the differences between day magic and night magic. Pagan parents will also appreciate the chance to demonstrate to their children that being different isn’t a bad thing and you should always be true to yourself – no matter what that self is.

5. The Lion King (1994, voiced by Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg. Rated G) A classic Disney coming-of-age story with lions instead of people. If there is a better film illustration of the Dark Brother/Light Brother, Summer/Winter, Oak King/Holly King conflict, I haven’t seen it. The characters even talk about this, when the father Mufasa says to young Simba: “One day the sun will go down on my time and rise again on yours.” I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

6. The 13th Warrior (1999, Antonio Banderas. Rated R) The plot is stolen straight from Beowulf (hunky warriors defeat gruesome monster) but the action is awesome and the insight into warrior culture makes it worth watching, especially for the Asa Tru folk.

7. Gladiator (Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Oliver Reed. Rated R) Defeated Roman general Maximus is sold into slavery and is eventually trained as a gladiator. He uses his prowess and fighting abilities to kill the corrupt emperor who murdered Maximus’ family and arranged for his downfall. My history professor husband says the film is grossly historically inaccurate but Maximus’ devotion to his family gods (especially the way he carries them with him) is worth noting.

8. Peter Pan. (1953. Rated G) This Disney classic has not aged well, and as a result it is embarrassingly politically incorrect – parents may want to skip through the scenes at the Indian camp if they can. Otherwise, be prepared to cringe at the gods awful stereotyping. That being said, Peter is characterized as delightfully Puck-ish, complete with buckteeth and a set of Pan pipes. The film is a good introduction to the Pan/Puck character for children too small to be captivated by any version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Parents of little girls will probably have to watch it several times – this is the film that introduced Tinker Bell, who has somehow entered the “Disney Princess” cadre.

9. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones. Rated R (and apparently banned in Norway) ) On the surface this film depicting the famous British comedy troupe’s take on the early days of Christianity has nothing to do with Paganism. However, Roman reconstructionists may disagree, especially during the “Romans Go Home/Latin lesson” scene. Also, Pagan viewers will want to pay special attention to this scene:

BRIAN: Are you the Judean People's Front?
REG: F* and k off!
BRIAN: What?
REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.
FRANCIS: Wankers.
BRIAN: Can I... join your group?
REG: No. Piss off.
BRIAN: I didn't want to sell this stuff. It's only a job. I hate the Romans as much as anybody.
PEOPLE'S FRONT OF JUDEA: Shhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.
REG: Stumm.
JUDITH: Are you sure?
BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.
REG: Listen. If you wanted to join the P.F.J., you'd have to really hate the Romans.
BRIAN: I do!
REG: Oh, yeah? How much?
BRIAN: A lot!
REG: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f* and king Judean People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah...
JUDITH: Splitters.
P.F.J.: Splitters...
FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
LORETTA: And the People's Front of Judea.
P.F.J.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
REG: What?
LORETTA: The People's Front of Judea. Splitters.
REG: We're the People's Front of Judea!
LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.
REG: People's Front! C-huh.
FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?
REG: He's over there.
P.F.J.: Splitter!

If you don’t think this is funny, you haven’t been in the Pagan community long enough!

10. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones. Rated PG) . Last but not least, we have King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail. I am including this movie for two reasons: 1) followers of traditions that incorporate Grail and/or Arthurian imagery in their practice will likely find it hilarious and 2) it seems like everyone in the Pagan community has seen it a dozen times and can quote entire scenes with very little encouragement, especially this one:

CROWD: Burn her! Burn!
BEDEVERE: How do you know she is a witch?
VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.
BEDEVERE: Bring her forward.
WITCH: I'm not a witch. I'm not a witch.
BEDEVERE: But you are dressed as one.
WITCH: They dressed me up like this.
CROWD: No, we didn't -- no.
WITCH: And this isn't my nose, it's a false one.
VILLAGER #1: Well, we did do the nose.
BEDEVERE: The nose?
VILLAGER #1: And the hat -- but she is a witch!
CROWD: Burn her! Witch! Witch! Burn her!
BEDEVERE: Did you dress her up like this?
CROWD: No, no... no ... yes. Yes, yes, a bit, a bit.
VILLAGER #1: She has got a wart.
BEDEVERE: What makes you think she is a witch?
VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt.
VILLAGER #3: I got better.

So there it is, gentle readers, my favorite non-Pagan Pagan movies. Pass the popcorn, please!

Monty Python film quotes compliments of


Bronwen Forbes

Location: Bloomington, Indiana


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