Book Review: Hocus Pocus In Focus by Aaron Wallace

For many years I’ve been interested in reading The Thinking Fan’s Guide series by Aaron Wallace. These books aren’t available in ebook form. For a person who constantly reads on his iPad and lives outside of the US, it has been difficult to get my hands on one of these books.

After re-watching Hocus Pocus some months ago, I acquired the only ebook I could get my hands on from this author. The film itself isn’t a favorite of mine, but I was interested in what Aaron Wallace had to say about this Disney cult film. Ever since the debut of the Hocus Pocus Villains’ Spelltacular show in the Magic Kingdom, the curiosity on the film grew on me.

‘Hocus Pocus In Focus’ is a book that peeks behind the curtain to understand details on the production and making of the film. It is difficult to understand how a silly witch story became one of the edgiest films released by Disney. Why would they give permission to mention about a teen’s virginity and its implications for the story? But more than just another book about the insider story of the production, Aaron Wallace theorizes about the meaning behind many overlooked lines and scenes of the film. In this sense, Aaron is able to give us the right ingredients to reinterpret the movie and maybe understand why it has grown within many fans two decades after its initial release.

Oh, and if you are a fun facts junkie that wants to read about all the little nuggets surrounding the film, don’t worry. There is a whole chapter at the end of the book dedicated to these stories.

Each chapter of the book is an essay about a specific aspect of the film. Of the several chapters, the three that sparked my curiosity the most were:

  • Understanding the meaning of yaboos and the importance of virginity in the film.
  • Why is Hocus Pocus Bette Midler’s magnum opus.
  • Understanding the language of the film as a Spielbergian, just as many films are explained as Hitchcockian.

Each chapter invites you to embrace Hocus Pocus as film worthy of study and analysis. Some chapters are about the plot itself, others about intertextuality and others about its significance within the Disney universe.

The explanation of the meaning of virginity throughout the film will definitely change your perception about the film. How each line of the characters, the video editing and the songs carry this symbol in the movie makes Aaron Wallace’s point bulletproof. Besides that, there is an interesting analysis on how witches are portrayed in this film and how they differ with the portrayal of witches in other Disney films.

‘Hocus Pocus In Focus’ sheds light on the importance of Hocus Pocus for Disney and film history. Besides showing perspectives of the film few people might have thought of, Aaron’s style lets you enjoy reading even if you’re not a huge fan of the movie. Most chapters are short and tight, simplifying the reading experience.

Aaron Wallace’s greatest achievement is the fact that it makes the reader enjoy the film upon multiple rewatches. Every single time you’ll get a different read of the film, taking into account your new information from the book.

Few authors do a serious analysis about the Disney phenomenon and in a way that doesn’t end up in academic mumbo jumbo and silly conspirative theories. Aaron Wallace makes it right with Hocus Pocus In Focus. For any fan who wants to learn more about the cult classic, this book is worth your time and attention.

Author: Rafael Gorrochotegui

Creo en la creatividad como un estilo de vida.