A cult classic and horror favorite, The craft is still a legendary work of witch cinema. Who could forget the hypnotic powers of Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk), the natural gifts of Sarah Bailey (Robin Tunney) or the hundreds of dead sharks washed up on shore after their summoning ritual? However, there is a missed opportunity in the case of Rochelle (played by Rachel true), the silent third of the girls circle. Rochelle’s character arc has the potential to go deeper than The craft describes first. Despite the fact that she ends up becoming entangled in Sarah and Nancy’s storylines, Rochelle’s potential as a lead character is strong throughout the film. Because of her racial identity, narrative conflicts, and connection to witchcraft, Rochelle could easily have been a powerful and representative character The craft. And even a worthy rival of Sarah and Nancy.
She is a black, witchy Catholic
Rochelle is one of the few black students to attend St. Benedict’s Catholic School, if not the only one. Because of this, she is introduced to her schoolmate Laura Lizzie (Christina Taylor), who makes unspeakable comments about her textured hair and skin. To gain control of her circumstances and regain a sense of power, Rochelle understandably turns to witchcraft. As the film fuels these incidents as part of her interest in the occult, The craft doesn’t quite take the opportunity to emphasize the cultural connection between Catholicism, witchcraft and Rochelle’s racial identity.
As a black woman, and particularly African American, Rochelle inherits a deep connection to the way witchcraft and Christianity intersect. As enslaved Africans were forced into America, many continued to follow their traditional spiritual beliefs. However, these systems were considered immoral by the Church, so they hid their practice under the guise of Christianity. In the case of Catholicism, for example, many traditional African spirits have been associated with the saints. A fusion took place between the two religions, giving rise to a new practice known as voodoo/hoodoo, often associated with witchcraft. So culturally The craft had the opportunity to cultivate in Rochelle a liberating discovery not only of witchcraft but also of ancestral magic (much like Sarah’s realization that her mother was a witch). Imagine the power she could wield as a witch and main character. Ever heard of the voodoo queen Marie Laveau? Exactly!
Their struggles are more than just the high school experience
Every girl is an outsider in her own right, an outcast in a world that has no idea how to deal with her trauma. While Nancy, Sarah and Bonnie (Never Campbell) absolutely struggling with very real and harrowing circumstances, Rochelle is a victim of both the system and the mindset specifically geared towards her death. Laura’s racist remarks aren’t just the words of a popular, bigoted white girl. They are the echoes of a far more sinister and present evil. While she eventually gets revenge on Laura with a nasty hair spell, it’s not just a revenge spell she casts. It is the act of rebellion against the years of abuse Rochelle has endured — and the centuries of atrocities her predecessors have endured — because of the color of her skin. The conflict Rochelle fights within the film goes beyond an ordinary subplot. While racism is often normalized within the school system, it is far removed from the regular high school experience.
She shows significant character development
To further emphasize why Rochelle is such a compelling character, take a look at her reaction when she finds Laura on the dressing room floor balding, scabbing, and sobbing. It’s a climax of the film when the girls begin to realize the consequences of their actions. Yes, The craft ensures that what is thrown out into the universe comes back threefold, even if only in guilt. But what is lost in this scene is the realization of how human this moment is. Despite the hideous way Rochelle is repeatedly treated by Laura, she cannot bear the pain she causes. Besides Sarah, she is the only one of the girls who has ever shown real empathy. And yet, The craft no longer uses it. Rather, Rochelle dismounts and quickly becomes one of Nancy’s cruel, mindless servants.
She represents a powerful element
When Nancy persuades the girls to perform a rite of summoning the deity Manon, the natural element associated with each character is revealed. Nancy, of course, represents fire: explosive, powerful, and all-consuming. Representing the earth, Sarah symbolizes a connection with Mother Nature and a deep-rooted connection to the elements. It is clear how and why the two main characters in the film represent the elements they represent and their symbolism is used to the fullest. However, the same cannot be said for Rochelle. She represents the element of water, essential to the give and take of life, spiritual power and the strength of intuition. Under the weight of the water, the fire is extinguished. Without water, the earth cannot sustain itself. It is a stunning symbol of the power Rochelle wields. Additionally, it proves that she has the potential to be a formidable opponent against Nancy and Sarah. Unfortunately nothing is done with it, despite the importance water has both culturally and within the film.
in all its glory, The craft uses his characters, their stories and their suffering to depict the contrast between dark and light. With every loss suffered, it becomes clear how important it is to maintain mental balance. Nancy and Sarah are the warning of what happens when the balance is upset. And Rochelle remains the film’s untapped potential. Without a doubt, she could have been the bond between Nancy and Sarah – the magic that unites dark and light forces. Better yet, if she had even had access to the magic of her ancestry, or even a fraction of her connection to the powers of water, she would have given the girls competition!
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