When adapting a story into a film, changes must be made. It is often difficult to remain perfectly faithful to the text, especially when dealing with something as short and undescriptive as a fairy tale. There simply isn’t enough detail in the original story of Hansel and Gretel to turn into a feature-length film without adding some original content.
The biggest difference is in the mother. Instead of a step-mother who wishes to be rid of the children, the movie features a loving mother who cares for the children, but is unable to keep from growing angry with them, particularly in the tight financial situation of the family. Instead of sending the children into the woods to starve, she sends them into the woods to find berries after their carelessness costs the family a great deal of food.
The witch is also changed substantially in the film. While it is certainly possible in the original fairy tale that Hansel and Gretel are not the witch’s first victims, her other victims do not appear in the story. In the movie, it turns out that they have been turned into gingerbread boys/girls by her magic, and they are freed when she dies.
The end of the movie is “happier” by modern standards than the original story. Nowadays the idea of the family living happily ever after because the wicked stepmother may seem strange or amoral, but few would find issue with the whole family being reunited to live happily together.