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Warner Bros has apologised for causing 'offense', following backlash for Anne Hathaway's character in the new The Witches film.
Hathaway's Grand High Witch features missing fingers, which is similar to the limb abnormality ectrodactyly - a condition that's sometimes referred to as 'split hand', as it manifests as the absence of one or more fingers or toes on the hand or foot.
Many people have since spoken out to express their disappointment over the nature of her character, with British Paralympic swimmer Amy Marren saying on Twitter: "It's not unusual for surgeons to try and build hands like this for children/adults with certain limb differences and it's upsetting to [see] something that makes a person different being represented as something scary.
"Yes, I am fully aware that this is a film, and these are Witches. But Witches are essentially monsters.
"My fear is that children will watch this film, unaware that it massively exaggerates the Roald Dahl original and that limbs differences begin to be feared. This opens up all new difficult conversations for those with limb differences and sets back what we are trying to achieve which is to celebrate who you are!"
In a statement provided to Us Weekly, a Warner Bros spokesperson said the company was 'deeply saddened to learn that our depiction of the fictional characters in The Witches could upset people with disabilities', adding that it 'regretted any offense caused' by the film.
"In adapting the original story, we worked with designers and artists to come up with a new interpretation of the cat-like claws that are described in the book," the statement said
"It was never the intention for viewers to feel that the fantastical, non-human creatures were meant to represent them. This film is about the power of kindness and friendship. It is our hope that families and children can enjoy the film and embrace this empowering, love-filled theme."
Along with Anne Hathaway, the film also stars Octavia Spencer as the doting grandmother of a young orphaned boy portrayed by newcomer Jahzir Bruno, with comedian Chris Rock voicing his character as an adult.
Stanley Tucci - who previously featured alongside Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada - steps into the shoes of the hotel manager who unwittingly hosts the witches' convention.
A synopsis reads: "Robert Zemeckis's visually innovative film tells the darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis.
"As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks our young hero away to an opulent seaside resort.
"Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world's Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow witches from around the globe - undercover - to carry out her nefarious plans."
The film is already out on HBO Max in the US and is available to rent via Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) at 'participating digital retailers' in the UK.
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