Fairy Tale Films of March 2011

I love movies almost as much as I love fairy tales.  That being said, it should come as no surprise that I’m really looking forward to next month, when two movies based on classic fairy tales are set to be released.  Here’s a peek at the trailers, as well as my initial reactions.  I’ve divided them into pros and cons for easy reading.

Red Riding Hood – March 11

Pros: Little Red Riding Hood is a rich story, and there have been plenty of wonderful retellings of it, many of which were fantastically grim.  The movie’s plot has potential to be beautifully dark,  and the style and cinematography look gorgeous.  Not only that, but I’m excited to see that Gary Oldman is part of the cast; he always does a fantastic job and has recently had a knack for accepting roles in all the right films.  I haven’t seen much of Amanda Seyfried, but she was truly hilarious in “Mean Girls” (2004).  It should be fun to see how she handles a more serious role.

Cons: I don’t doubt Catherine Hardwicke‘s ability to direct, but I do doubt her ability to choose a good story.  “Twilight” may have been a money maker, but it was also anti-feminist fluff of the worst kind.  Yes, I’m aware that she only directed the first film, but my problem is with Meyer’s books, themselves.  I’ll admit to being suspicious that this film might go the same way, considering that it features “Little Red” being torn between two lovers.  If this movie turns out to be about how important it is to have a boyfriend, I’m going to scream.

Beastly – March 18

Pros: Neil Patrick Harris is an absolutely brilliant actor, so his involvement in this film gives me hope.  Not only that, but like Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast is a rich story that leaves plenty of room for skillful retellings and embellishments.  Placing the story in a modern setting while still keeping the magic element is an interesting choice, and I’m really excited to see where they take it.

Cons: I haven’t actually seen Mary-Kate Olsen in anything since we were both children, and I’m not convinced she has what it takes to play an effective supernatural antagonist.  I’m willing to give her a try, but I remain skeptical.  It’s also possible that this movie could turn out to be little more than a typical high school romance flick.  I mean, sure, Alex Pettyfer looks mildly unattractive with those weird, ropey markings on his face, but don’t most teen dramas feature an “unattractive” girl that turns out to be really  gorgeous once she takes off her glasses and lets her hair down?  Let’s hope it doesn’t devolve into that.

Top Four Best Retold Fairy Tales

When I was ten years old, I discovered retold fairy tales.  Since then, I have read tons of them–probably hundreds–and written many of my own.  That being said, I’ve come to know a good retelling when I see one.

Although there are many fantastic novel-length retellings of these stories, there are an equal number of amazing short story versions.  This is a good place to start if you’re not sure about reading retold fairy tales, but you’re willing to give them a try.  Here, you will find a list of what I consider to be the top four best retold fairy tale short stories.

1. Wolfland by Tanith Lee

Nearly every story in Tanith Lee’s retold fairy tale collection “Red As Blood or Tales From the Sisters Grimmer” is pure fairy tale gold.  “Wolfland,” however, is by far the fairest of them all.  This fantastic retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood takes place in nineteenth century Scandinavia, where “little red” is not a helpless child but a teenage party girl whose wealthy grandmother hides a supernatural secret.  The collection is, unfortunately, out of print; if you can get your hands on a used copy, do not hesitate to do so.

 

2. Hansel’s Eyes by Garth Nix

This story is also part of a larger collection; “A Wolf at the Door” edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling contains retold fairy tales by many well-known authors.  “Hansel’s Eyes,” however, has all the marks of a truly great retelling: an original spin on the story, an engaging writing style, and a macabre twist.  This modern version has Hansel and Gretel abandoned in the inner city, where an organ harvesting witch lures them into her video game shop.  Not only is it the best story in the collection, but it’s the best reimagining of Hansel and Gretel I’ve ever come across.

 

3. Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman

Just like everything else on this list, “Snow, Glass, Apples” can be found inside a bigger book: “Smoke and Mirrors,” a collection of short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman.  Interestingly, the theme of Snow White as a creepy little girl with an aversion to holy things is not as unusual as one might imagine; this story, however, does it better than any of the others I’ve read.  In it, Snow is a blood sucking princess who is slowly killing her father.  Her benevolent stepmother plays the story’s heroine.  Although it’s not quite as original as the others on this list, it is the most beautifully written of all of them, and my absolute favorite version of Snow White.

 

4. The Bully and the Beast by Orson Scott Card

This particular retelling of popular French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast is hidden within a large collection of Orson Scott Card’s short fiction, “Maps in a Mirror.”  Card’s writing style is a joy to read, but what really makes this a great story is the cleverness of it.  The title the “beast” is also fascinating here, because it could easily be applied to several characters in the story.  Add a beauty that doesn’t love the unintelligent man that rescues her and a dragon with a power that will make you think, and you’ve got a surprisingly unique version of one of the most commonly retold fairy tales around.


Although these are a few of my favorite short fairy tale retellings, there are many more out there.  Happy reading!


%d bloggers like this: