Friday, September 20, 2013

Come little children, I'll take thee away...

There are certain movies, like Hocus Pocus, that have become a yearly tradition during the spooky season in my household. It's a film that sums up the fun side of Halloween to me and although it is definitely family fare, it also has its sinister moments. Amidst all the colour, campiness, mayhem and cheesy humour, the witches are, in the tradition of the darkest fairy tales, child killers.


One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is simultaneously beautiful and disquieting: Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), the youngest and prettiest of the three Sanderson sisters, takes to the skies on her broom and lures children from their homes with her haunting siren song. She is usually leaping about with irrepressible high spirits, flirting, and uttering inanities that try the patience of her eldest sister, Winifred (Bette Midler), but the dramatic change in tone gives this scene added impact. With her cape billowing about her, Sarah is no longer the vapid fool, but eerily graceful and beguiling as she ushers the children to their deaths.





To the best of my knowledge, the Come Little Children lyrics were written by Brock Walsh (music composed by James Horner), although mysterious extra verses have appeared online and are, to my surprise, being credited to Edgar Allan Poe. After a little research however, I have discovered a few Poe scholars who rigorously dispute this claim.


39 comments:

  1. I first heard that song a while back, covered by a very talented singer known as Erutan, it is defintely worth checking out her version! It is a really haunting song!

    I haven't seen the movie, but I should try and find it! Sarah's costume there is gorgeous! I want it!

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    1. Hi Laura,

      Yes, I've heard about her song. From what I've read, she doesn't know the original source of the extra verses either, but via her version of the song, they've spread throughout the internet. It's all very puzzling. I've seen a quote from Brock Walsh saying he definitely wrote the lyrics from the film, but he didn't write the mystery extra verses.

      All the witchy costumes are fabulous in 'Hocus Pocus'! I hope you get a chance to see the movie. :)

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    2. I just looked up her version of the song and it left me breathless. Really wonderful.

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  2. I watched Hocus Pocus just a couple of days ago and the reason I decided to watch it is because Sarah's song had been stuck in my head for about a week! It's the song that automatically comes to mind whenever I think about Hocus Pocus, it's so beautifully eerie. I recorded this very segment of the film for my instagram too so I can listen to it whenever I want! :D

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    1. How funny, Sandy, because I've had Sarah's song stuck in my head over the past week too! I suppose I've been thinking of 'Hocus Pocus' as Halloween draws closer, and it is such a memorable scene. I decided I just had to do a post about it. :D

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  3. (sorry, I had to delete my last message)

    This movie is watched often in our household.
    A firm favourite.

    Although it doesn't seem like Poe's writing style,
    I always believed the song to have been adapted from
    his poem....

    'Come Little Children'

    Come little children
    I'll take thee away, into a land
    of Enchantment

    Come little children
    the time's come to play
    here in my garden
    of Shadows

    Follow sweet children
    I'll show thee the way
    through all the pain and
    the Sorrows

    Weep not poor children
    for life is this way
    murdering beauty and
    Passions

    Hush now dear children
    it must be this way
    to weary of life and
    Deceptions

    Rest now my children
    for soon we'll away
    into the calm and
    the Quiet

    Come little children
    I'll take thee away, into a land
    of Enchantment

    Come little children
    the time's come to play
    here in my garden
    of Shadows

    ~Edgar Allan Poe

    I'm saddened to think that this may not be a POEm after all : (

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    1. Hi Winter Moon,

      I actually had no idea that the song was believed to have been adapted from a POEm until I happened to double-check the lyrics for the framed quote. It would be a wonderful cherry-on-top to find out the song was based on Poe's work, but having read some of the arguments from Poe people, I'm pretty sceptical.

      Thank you for posting the entire poem! Whether it's Poe's work or not, it's certainly beautiful. I'd love to get to the bottom of this mystery. :)

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  4. That's one of my favorite movies, too. I never found it disturbing or dark. Maybe I'm odd, but I felt the song/children-luring was like the Pied Piper, simply a fairy tale - something that's meant to scare kids, but not be taken seriously. Anyhow, I adore that movie. :-)

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    1. Oh, that's what I meant, Lexa. Even though it's all fun and campy, the darker elements are very much in the tradition of Grimm fairy tales, which I think is what makes the film special. Not terrifying, but enough to give kids goosebumps. :)

      It's so interesting that you mention the Pied Piper because of all the fairy tales read to me as a kid, that one disturbed me the most. I always felt like the little disabled boy was being punished for his disability, at least from his point of view, by being left behind. I remember mulling that story over and over in my head. Everything from the petty actions of the townspeople to what exactly happened to the children... did they go somewhere good or somewhere bad? See, I'm actually the odd one! Haha.

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  5. I wish I had seen this movie when I was younger, so that sentimentality could make up for all the campiness and sillyness, but alas. I tried to watch this last year and I was pretty disappointed. It's too bad, there aren't enough Halloween movies out there!

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    1. Oh, I just enjoy it for what it is, Ms Misantropia. It's certainly not high art, but it's charming, cheesy Halloween fun! :D I wish there were more Halloween movies out there too.

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  6. One of my favorite movies <3 Sarah is the best <3

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    1. Yes, Sarah is an awesomely kooky, sexy witch, Leena! I'm not particularly an SJP fan, but she's brilliant in 'Hocus Pocus'. :)

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  7. One of my favourites for the Halloween season. I especially like the "amuck, amuck, amuck" and "weirdos"............

    Ali

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    1. Hi Ali,

      My son always goes into hysterics when the bullies get captured and start panicking over the prospect of the witches needing "dead man's chungs" for their spell. :D

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  8. Never mind the children! I'll let her take me away in their stead!

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    1. Hahaha. Yes, I imagine that you're definitely not alone in thinking that being lured to your death by a sexy sorceress would be one of the pleasanter ways to go, Nightwind! ;D

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  9. I always get a laugh out of the shorter "second" witch (can't remember her name), flying through the night on a Hoover with the cord trailing along behind her... ;-)

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    1. Yes, Kathy Najimi's character, Mary, is hilarious on the vacuum cleaner. She really is the quintessential, long-suffering middle child stuck in between the baby and the firstborn. :)

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  10. One of my favorite Halloween movies. I love that song. So beautiful and eerie. I just might have to pop this movie in tonight.

    Thanks for this post!...Viv

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    1. Yes, 'Hocus Pocus' never fails to get me in the Halloween mood, Vivienne! I adore all the exterior shots of Salem and Marblehead in Massachusetts too. I love to soak in all the little details. :)

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  11. I'm looking forward to having the TV on a whole separate floor in the new house, Little Gothic Horrors. Then when I wake up at 2:00 a.m. I can go watch some of these great movies without having to worry about whether I'm going to wake up the long-suffering spouse. Because when he's awake, the TV is always on the sports channel. Football at the moment. :P

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    1. Regardless of the time of day you watch it, or which floor you watch it on, I absolutely, positively cannot imagine more perfect surroundings than your Little Gothic Cottage in the spooky woods for 'Hocus Pocus' viewing, Insomniac's Attic! *envious sigh* ;D

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  12. I love, love, love Hocus Pocus. This is one of those movies that everybody loves, I guess. A few hours ago, I told a friend (on Facebook) that the first time I watched Hocus Pocus and heard the song, I ran around screaming, "Poe! Poe! Poe!" and everybody asked me, "What are you shooting at?" I was heartbroken that others didn't recognized Poe's work. Then again, I was really young... the creepiness enchanted me young indeed. Now I must watch it again ;-D

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    1. Yes, I love, love, love 'Hocus Pocus' too, Magaly! :D The Poe connection was completely new to me though. I'm so intrigued by the debate over whether Poe is the author. And yes, you must indeed watch it again. You can never have too much 'Hocus Pocus', particularly during the Halloween season. :D

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  13. Looks like I've missed something here :) But that can be a good thing to have a completely fresh movie to watch.

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    1. It's a good one to watch with the kids, linnea-maria! :)

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  14. Don't think I've ever watched this one from beginning to end, although it always get a laugh out of. Bette Midler's character makeup!

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    1. Yes, Bette Midler's witchy face is pretty priceless, Mark. Plus, she's got some of the best sarcastic one-liners in the film.

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  15. What a movie. I was super young when i first saw it and along with Beetlejuice i got scared hahaha and now i cannot live without those kind of movies :) Beautiful <3

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    1. Ah, 'Beetlejuice' is another one of my all-time favourites, Magda! :)

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  16. Ohhhh I love this movie, it is so magic and nostalgic... I love how they dress the witches, and the story... A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

    xoxo

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  17. I adore this movie!
    I just discovered your blog and have spent the last few hours reading every post. I feel like (if we lived closer) we'd be best friends. This blog is entirely me!

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    1. Oh, thank you so much, Jessie! You've made my day! :)

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  18. I am a fan of this movie and the hokey witches. Gotta love the sisters.

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  19. Interesting enough according to the licensing the song is based on a poem by Poe. An author did the digging http://www.dmelhoff.com/who-wrote-come-little-children

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    1. Thanks for the link, Axle! :) I actually had already read that post, but I have to admit, I'm still not convinced. The whole thing doesn't make any sense. Brock Walsh is credited as writing the lyrics that were in the film, and as he was quoted in that post, is mystified by the Poe rumour:

      "That has to be the most gratifying, and apocryphal, bit of internet misinformation ever! Being confused with Poe? Must have been my obsession with him as a child. Yes, the lyric is my creation, written in tandem with James Horner."

      If there really is a poem by Poe, where is the poem published? No one seems to be able to produce it. This feels like an urban myth that has grown on the internet. The credit from the licensing company is quite bizarre. Call me cynical, but I'm wondering if someone at the licensing company didn't just google it and the internet told them that it was a poem by Poe... Who knows?! ;) If there is an original poem by Poe out there, I would love to see it, that's for sure. :)

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