Gretel & Hansel (2020) Movie Ending Explained: The classic Brothers Grimm story, Hansel and Gretel, is one of the darkest fairy tales, best kept away from your child’s everyday bedtime routine. The story revolves around two siblings lured inside a house made of candy, only to be incarcerated by a cannibalistic old witch. Perhaps the progenitor of the “don’t take candy from strangers” parable, the fairy tale, has had a massive popularity in the culture. In the last decade alone, there have been more than five iterations of the classic story, ranging from the modern-day adaptations by Asylum to the incredibly campy Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013).

Gretel and Hansel (2020), directed by Oz Perkins and scripted by Rob Hayes, is the latest adaptation of the classic tale. A feminist spin on the old-age story, the film (as evident by its title) retells the narrative from Gretel’s perspective.

In this article, we dive into the film’s plot and ending and answer some of the puzzling questions in the film. A spoiler alert before you proceed!

Gretel & Hansel (2020) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis

The film begins with a woman narrating a moral story titled “A Beautiful Child With A Pretty Pink Hat,” about a lovely girl born during a famine. The woman narrates how despite being a blessing, the child fell sick. This propelled her loving father to take the infant to an enchantress to purge the illness inside her. While the enchantress healed the child, she granted her a dark power. As the child grew up, she developed sinister intents and ended up killing her own father.

In order to stop her reign of terror, the child was taken deep inside the woods to be kept away from the village. Despite being left all alone, the child had a wicked propensity to seduce people’s minds—and she continued to lure young children to their death. The woman ends the story with a moral: “Beware of gifts. Beware of those who offer them.”

In the present day, Gretel (Sophia Lillis) lives with her younger brother, Hansel (Sam Leakey), and their mother (Fiona O’Shaughnessy). Unlike the original story, there is an eight-year age difference between Gretel and Hansel—with Gretel in her teenage years and Hansel in the pre-pubescent stage.

Owing to their father’s death, the family has fallen upon hard times, and Gretel’s mother asks her to find a job to sustain the household. Gretel goes to apply for a position as a housekeeper at John Stripp’s house (Donncha Crowley). After talking to Stripp, Gretel soon realizes that he seeks to exploit her sexually. Disgusted, Gretel leaves the house. Her already-depressed mother is angered by the fact that Gretel did not take the employment and threatens to kill the siblings if they do not leave the house and find a job. Horrified by her mother’s maniacal behavior, Gretel immediately takes Hansel and exits the house.

They decide to take refuge at an old neighbor’s house for the night. Just as they sleep, the siblings are attacked by a zombified monster but are saved by a kind huntsman (Charles Babalola) who kills the creature. After feeding them rabbit meat, the huntsman tells them to go to look for “The Foresters,” a clan of people who would probably take the siblings in and offer them food and money in exchange for work. The next day, the duo heads out in search of the Foresters. Hungry and famished by the journey, they consume wild mushrooms, which send them on a surreal trip.

After a while, the two of them arrive near a mysterious house from where the smell of cakes emanates. Gretel knocks, but no one answers. From the window, the two of them spot an entire feast laid out on the table. Hansel steps inside to eat the bread, but he is caught by a witch (Alice Krige). However, rather than castigating or punishing them, the witch welcomes them inside and gives them plenty of food to feast on. She also offers them to spend a night with her, and they agree. That night, Gretel has a nightmare where she sees children trapped in the mirror telling her how their mother ate them.

The following day, Gretel offers to work for the witch in exchange for food and lodging. The witch gladly agrees and teaches Hansel to chop wood and the art of potion-making to Gretel. Again that night, Gretel has a nightmare where she goes inside a mysterious room and sees bloody corpses of children. She begins to wonder if her dreams are a warning. Later, Gretel suggests to Hansel that they abscond from the witch’s house, believing it all too good to be true. She also wonders where the witch draws her milk and meat when no livestock is in sight. Despite her warnings, Hansel is reluctant—immensely enjoying the comfort of the house and the love the witch showers upon him.

Gretel & Hansel

On the other hand, the witch tells Gretel that she has feminine energy inside her, which she can either suppress or give way to. The witch teaches her to levitate objects using a flying ointment, which Gretel can do. Elated by her new-found powers, Gretel drops her initial misgivings about the witch. On the other hand, Hansel grows uneasy about the witch when he spots satanic markings on a tree with several children’s shoes tied to it. Later in the night, Hansel talks to Gretel about this, but she shrugs it off. She further mentions how the witch is teaching her special skills. Hansel warns her, recalling the story of the child with a pink hat, that one should remain “beware of gifts.” Hansel’s talk vexes Gretel; she takes him outside in the dark and leaves him there.

Later, when she awakens, Hansel is nowhere to be seen. Guilty of her actions, Gretel vows to find her brother and tells the same to the witch. The witch suggests that Hansel is nothing but a burden on Gretel, and it is best she lets him go. Gretel is still adamant about finding her brother in the morning. She requests the witch to make her a sleeping potion so she can sleep peacefully and resume her quest in the morning. That night, Gretel again has a frightening nightmare that reveals to her the horrifying reality of the witch.

Gretel & Hansel (2020) Ending Explained

What Did Gretel See In Her Dream?

In her frightening vision, Gretel again lands in the mysterious room. Furthermore, she sees a witch emptying a bucket of human remains on the table. Suddenly, all these body parts turn into food—the same festive food that Gretel and Hansel have had daily. Here, Gretel realizes that the witch is basically feeding her and Hansel’s children’s body parts disguised as delicious food.

The next day, Gretel wakes up but puts up a pretense of being unaware of the horrifying discovery. When the witch goes out, Gretel uses her book to mix a sleeping potion into her tea. However, when the witch returns, she easily slurps through the liquid. Gretel finally confronts the witch and asks her about Hansel. The witch mentions that Hansel is the poison in Gretel’s life, and she must let it go. Gretel refuses to oblige. It is then that the witch reveals her story to Gretel.

What Was The Witch’s Backstory?

The witch says that she was the mother of the young girl with a pretty pink hat—whose story was told at the beginning of the film. The mother left her in the woods when the young girl killed her father. But by then, the girl had already attached herself to the mother’s mind. The mother, hypnotized by her daughter’s evil, wanted the same dark powers as her daughter. Subsequently, this caused her to kill and eat her remaining two children. She later assumed an older woman’s alias to appear kind and weak toward children so as to lure them to her hut and eat them.

How Does Gretel Defeat The Witch?

The witch then takes Gretel to the same mysterious room she had seen in her nightmares. Gretel encounters Hansel there as he sleepwalks into the fire under the witch’s hypnosis. Before the witch ends up killing him, Gretel uses the flying ointment on her hand to control a broom and stack the witch against the wall over the fire—thereby using the same techniques she had learned from the witch. The witch burns to death, and Hansel is saved.

What Do Gretel’s Black Hands Signify?

The following day, Gretel and Hansel reconcile. Gretel tells Hansel that they must part ways, although her heart will always be with Hansel. She sends him off on a horse back to their home. When Hansel arrives there, he notices their mother’s axe on the dining table. He picks it up—foretelling his future as a woodsman.

Meanwhile, in a closing monologue, Gretel mentions that she will spend her time in the woods honing her powers. After the witch’s death, the souls of the children she had killed are also free to go. Gretel mentions that she can be like the witch with her powers and give way to the darkness. At the same time, she can also choose to feed them to the light.

As the film ends, Gretel’s hands begin to turn black—just like the witch’s. However, since Gretel has chosen the light, it is likely that she will fight against the darkness inside her and use her powers for good.

Also, Read: Movies So Successful That They Got Their Own Slot Machine

Gretel and Hansel (2020) Movie Links – IMDbRotten Tomatoes
Gretel and Hansel (2020) Movie Cast – Sophia Lillis, Samuel Leakey, Alice Krige


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