Sunday, 28 March 2010

Fairy tales in films

The classic fairy tale
The Beauty and the Beast, by Jean Cocteau

This is a masterpiece, and anyone serious about cinema should already have seen it! It's fairy tale in its purest form - magic, meanies to be punished, and a Cinderella-like young woman becoming a princess. So many thing have been taken from this film and reused, and it leaved you with stares in the eyes. Truly beautiful.

Reinventing the fairy tale
Nightmare before Christmas, by Henry Selick

I don't think anyone missed that one, setting up the modern Gothic trends... well I say modern but really I was 9 when it came out and I saw it for the first time around that period. This was a nice waking up, making you want to dress in black and cheerfully sing all the tunes of the feature you'd obviously learned by heart.

Resetting the fairy tale into modern imaginations
AI, by Spielberg

Today Pinocchio fits much more naturally into a mecha skin than a hunk of wood - I don't know for you but I personally click with the idea much better. And I think their is absolutely nothing wrong in resetting the classics so that they talk to us in a new, and I reckon more thought provoking light. A sci-fi fairy tale it is then! the only thing I regret about that one is the double ending. We get an extra 20min to the movie all warm and sweet and gooey without really getting the point of it - it really feels like an appendix to the film in a different tone. (by the way, if you loved this film try D.A.R.Y.L. by Simon Wincer)

The escapism offered by fairy tale
Pan's Labyrinth, by Gillermo del Toro

This is a cruel film, full of the violence of the Fascist regime in Spain and a little girl's need to get out of it all. So is this her imagination or a real fairy tale sneaking into the world thanks to all it's terrible real life monsters?

Bringing the fairy tale into the real world
Amelie Poulain, by JP Jeunet

Dream is also available in fantasised realities... with a beautified Paris and lovable main characters, this is a modern fairy tale about love and happiness. Obviously you find the ironic cruel quirks of fairy tale life in there, making you smile and grimace at the same time (I mean you can't get much lower than finding that your prince charming works in a sex shop - no matter how uninterested he might be). But Amelie is definitely a film made to send your mind in soft dreams. From the storyteller, I mean we can't mistake that voice over for anything but that, to the lovely hue of aged photographs given to the whole film, this is a modern fairy tale writer only with elements of 'today'.

Taking out the "fairy tale" part from the fairy tale
Hansel and Gretel, by Pil-Sung Yim

This film is really about what would happen if Hansel and Gretel never got their parents after they burned the witch. How scary do you get when all abandon you and all you know is evil?
It's when watching films like that you realise the fairy tale is really part of the European culture and how even with it's elements you don't necessarily create one. Because to me this film managed to step out of the fairy tale so easily I was stunned.

And soon to add to this list I'll go see Alice in Wonderland by Tim Burton, we'll see what that's worth :D

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