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Friday, February 15, 2013

A Dark and Stormy Fairy Tale

Written by Kyle Slagley

Remember when you were young and your mom, dad, grandparent, teacher, or librarian would tell you all those fairy tales that had happy-frou-frou endings where the prince gets the girl in the sunset and you can practically hear the birds singing and the unicorns… unicorning?

Apparently those types of fairy tales are soooo thirty years ago. As the recent release of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will confirm, the new thing is the dark, creepy, gritty fairy tale. The Brothers Grimm was one of the films that I think really shotgunned this fad into prominence back in 2005. Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger as Will and Jake Grimm travel through an eerily exotic land as con artists, chronicling their adventures.

Before The Brothers Grimm, however, came a film from the master of all things dark and creepy – Mr. Tim Burton. In 1999, Sleepy Hollow was released, starring Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp. This would be just another in a long resume of eerie movies for Depp.

More recently there have been a number of films to stoke the flames of this craze. Snow White & the Huntsman was released just last year starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, Mirror Mirror was a new and beautiful rendition of Snow White, and Alice in Wonderland with the Burton-Depp duo provided a look at the teenage Alice searching for her destiny.

Television joined the party last season too with Grimm and Once Upon a Time. Grimm takes place in Portland and follows a detective who finds out that his “precinct” covers more than just the mortal world. Once Upon a Time, on the other hand, takes place in Storybrook, Maine, and tells the story of Emma and a town full of storybook characters trapped in the town by the evil witch turned mayor.

For some tales that maybe some of your patrons do not yet know about, especially younger patrons, I would start with the Inkheart trilogy, which start in the present day but soon shift to another world that is much more bleak. Inkheart started as a book by Cornelia Funke and was later made into a movie starring Brendan Fraser. As is expected with book-to-film projects, the movie was not nearly as good as the book, but I thought it was okay. It was only a moderate success at the box office, which is probably why the two other books in the trilogy – Inkspell and Inkdeath – never made it to film.

Finally, in yet another of my shameless plugs to promote all things theatre, there are even fairy tales for the Broadway lovers out there. Most girls have at least heard of the musical Wicked, starring Kristin Chenowith and Idina Menzel, but not all of them may realize that it started out as a book that is much more than just rainbows and yellow brick roads. The younger generation may also not be familiar with the classic musical Into the Woods. Though not exactly dark, I still recommend the show for some great music that’s made it through two revivals. To get a feel for how the set of this show looks, be sure to watch the video recording of the stage performance – it’s a few years old, but still worth the watch.

1 comment:

  1. 'Happy frou-frou' just doesn't entertain like it used to. Originally a lot of those fairy tales were dark but, I think the societal climate that produced such happy frou frou TV series (say in the 1950s) and movies unfairly colored the fairy tale world a sparkly pink and lavender.

    Seems we are just returning to the root of the fairy tale genre that prefers its backgrounds dark purple and grey and is not afraid to scare the begee-gees out of us as a warning - lest we, like Hansel and Grentel, decide to run away from home.

    I can't wait to see Jack the Giant Killer either :)



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