Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Modern Fairy Tale Films

There are plenty of films that are retellings of fairy tales, but there are also those that create their own mythos and are widely seen as fairy tales today. Here are 3 of my favorites:

1) Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands is a beautiful and dark modern fairy tale. The story is kind of a mix of Frankenstein, Peter Pan, and even Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Edward is an unfinished creation by an elderly scientist that died in the midst of his creation. Since he hasn't been exposed to the world at all, he has the mentality of a child, innocent and naive. He is taken from his dark, gothic castle on the hill and brought to suburbia, full of cookie cutter homes and pastel colors. At first, Edward is well liked and praised for his ability to cut hair and topiary, but after Edward is manipulated and he accidentally hurts someone, the town is quick to turn on him. They follow him back to his castle with figurative torches and pitchforks, demanding that he be destroyed. This beautiful and melancholy fairy tale shows how people who are different are treated in society and how if this outsider lashes out at those who abuse him, he is the monstrous one. This fairy tale is even framed by an old woman telling her granddaughter the story at bedtime, much like I'm sure many of us were read classic fairy tales. Edward Scissorhands is one of my favorite films and features the most beautiful soundtrack and style to enhance the whimsical, yet dark fairy tale atmosphere. This is my favorite scene from the film.

2) Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth is the story of young Ofélia who goes to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless and unfeeling captain, in 1944 fascist Spain. In the midst of her move and getting used to living with her father, a faun lures her outside and tells her she is the reincarnation of Princess Moanna and she must complete three tasks before the full moon to be able to enter in her father's realm. This film does an amazing job of juxtaposing a dark, beautiful fairy tale world with the gritty realism of living in a war zone. The fairy tale world has its own sets of danger with creatures that eat children and even the faun seems to be less than benevolent at times. However, this world's color palate is bright and dynamic. It's the realm where anything is possible. The real world is even more dangerous. There are scenes of overwhelming brutality in the film that are stark and committed by regular humans. The color palate for this world is muted in grays and blues, but with splashes of red blood. This is obviously a fairy tale for adults despite the main character only being 10 years old. Guillermo del Toro's influences for the film ranged from Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz to the fantastical works of Jorge Luis Borges and Francisco Goya. I absolutely love this film and can't recommend it enough.

3) The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride has been one of my favorite films since childhood. It has everything: true love, sword fights, giants, miracles, revenge, treachery, torture, rodents of unusual size, and royalty. Plus just about every line is incredibly quotable. It's the story of Buttercup, a girl who is set to marry a prince she doesn't love because she believes her true love to be dead. She is kidnapped by a Sicilian and his posse who intend to murder her and frame the opposing kingdom. A mysterious man in black comes to save her and she discovers he is her true love Westley, but they are again separated by the evil prince she is betrothed to. Doesn't this sound exciting? Please, just watch it if you haven't already. This film is also framed by a bedside story as a very young Fred Savage is sick and is read this story by his kind grandfather. Throughout the film, they return to his reactions. At first he is bored and doesn't want to hear about kissing, but is eventually sucked into the story and really cares about what happens to the characters just like we are. This film has been a family tradition in my household because there is something for everyone. I think this is a truly timeless film and I can't recommend it more.


If you like fairy tales and retellings and the like, you would love Misty and Ashley's Fairy Tale Fortnight. Every day is full of guest posts, author interviews, and book reviews. I've done 2 guest posts for the event about dark literary retellings and movie adaptations. Check it out here!


vvb32 reads said...

great picks! i agree! i was actually thinking of rewatching edward scissorhands recently. what a coinky.

Elizabeth Twist said...

You have absolutely impeccable taste!

Giada M said...

Beautiful movies! I adore Pan's Labyrinth. *_*

Misty said...

I love each and every one of these movies with all of my heart! So good!!

Karla Vollkopf said...

Those are so great! :) So cute and heart-warming..

Karla Vollkopf said...

Those are so great! :) So cute and heart-warming..