Fairy Tale and Film: Old Tales with a New Spin

Fairy Tale and Film: Old Tales with a New Spin

Sue Short

Language: English

Pages: 229


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

How have familiar tales such as 'Cinderella', 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Ali Baba' and 'Bluebeard' been redeployed in film? Why has the industry taken such a keen interest in reworking age-old stories?

And are the 3D star vehicles currently being released necessarily the most interesting examples?

Paying particular attention to less conspicuous adaptations in order to question exactly what constitutes a 'fairy tale film', Sue Short argues that some of the most significant revisions can be found where we least expect them. She also seeks to challenge negative evaluations of popular cinema – and its audiences – by illustrating some progressive ideas at work in frequently undervalued texts.

The book is intended for anyone interested in contemporary cinema, gender and class representation in popular culture – and lovers of fairy tales everywhere.

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birth to a child that awakens her when it sucks the poisoned flax from her finger. Venus’ temptation is reminiscent of the blame placed on the devil in ‘The Maiden without Hands’, a tale that similarly side-steps sexual abuse and emphasises motherhood as a form of rebirth and renewal. In both early examples of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ the incumbent heroines bear no grudge towards their attackers, and blame is diverted towards threatening females, just as Perrault’s version casts a vengeful fairy as

his motives. (A grim irony in the film is that Devon is genuinely molested by a neighbour, an arrogant jock having an affair with her mother, who tries to put his hand up the young girl’s dress. When she tells her parents, the reaction is disbelief, followed by a nasty comment from her father that her heart-surgery scar would shock any boy trying to Transformations and Male Maturation 67 cop a feel.) Small wonder, given such loathsome parents, that Devon prefers to spend time with a young man

screen who subvert our expectations. Cristina Bacchilega references a few films alongside literary examples in 6 Fairy Tale and Film Postmodern Fairy Tales (1997) and has recently focused more exclusively on film, as have a number of other academics in the field, highlighting an area of significant expansion. This growth in critical attention coincides with the increasing deployment of fairy tale motifs in cinema, what Donald Haase refers to as the ‘continually emergent nature of the fairy

children who are far from innocent. Given its intended audience, the genre is relatively free to explore taboo subjects, updating seemingly age-old concerns, while also inviting the opportunity to question perceived norms. In some ways, given its supernatural and surreal qualities, horror cinema has become an ideal forum for rearticulating fairy tale tropes, particularly unhappy families. In detailing abusive parents and aberrant upbringings, the genre offers a relatively unique opportunity to

horrors that affirm profound dangers in the family home – while supernatural interventions additionally seek to restore a sense of hope. Familiar tropes are thus discerned among some very contemporary narratives in order to make clear how diverse the fairy tale’s influence on film has been – aiming to contribute another voice to the growing critical interest in this subject. Beyond demonising Disney, or applauding artier twists on the fairy tale for their supposed ability to ‘disenchant’ us, a

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