Dwarves, princesses and witches seem to be everywhere these days. No matter where you turn, there’s bound to be some character right out of the brothers Grimm’s book.
Have you noticed yet? Just around Halloween, American TV has started two new series with a strong link to fairytales.
One of them is NBC’s Grimm, starring David Giuntoli and Silas Weir Mitchell. I really came to appreciate Silas through his performances on 24 and Prison Break.
——— Spoilers ahead ———–
The story itself is simple: a young detective begins seeing strange transformations in stranger’s faces, just as his aunt is visiting him, dying of cancer. His first case after his aunt’s appearance quickly leads him to finding out that the old stories might be true, when a young girl goes missing. She was last seen wearing a bright red hooded sweater…
Sounds like you’ve heard that one before? Sure you have:
Detective Nick Burckhardt’s investigations lead him to a wolf, albeit not the big bad one, who blames him and his family of having stigmatised his whole race. See, Mr. Burckhardt is a decendant of noneother than the Brothers Grimm themselves! His family has taken up the business of hunting down all those fairytale beings you wouldn’t want to meet in your dark laundryroom.
Concerning the serie’s future it isn’t hard to guess what the next episodes will be about. The detective will have to keep on hiding his abilities from his partner and fiancé. And he’ll have to be careful not to go on breaking as much police protocol, so he won’t be exposed.
The filming itself seems to be well done, the question is if the audience will want to go on seeing stories they’ve already known since kindergarten.
Another new series is abc’s “Once Upon a Time“, starring “Big Love‘s” Ginnifer Goodwin.
According to the IMDb it “centers on a woman with a troubled past who is drawn into a small town in Maine where the magic and mystery of Fairy Tales just may be real.”
Though hubby is concerned this might lead to “Desperate Housewifes“-esque dramatic scenes, I’m kind of intrigued.
The whole business of basing new movies and shows on fairytales isn’t really new.
In 1997 Sigourney Weaver freaked me out with “Snow White: A Tale of Terror“.
Director Michael Cohn managed to freshly adapt the old story of the evil stepmother and even Sam Neill couldn’t destroy my viewing pleasure.
The same story was used in 2001’s “Snow White“, whose protagonist I will, unfortunately, always connect with her role as Smallville‘s love-interest of Superman. Blech.
2005 brought us “The Brothers Grimm“, which wasn’t too great, considering the current IMDb voting of 5.9.
One reviewer remarked:
“People have a curious tendency not to notice how bizarre and gruesome children’s fairy tales often are. Terry Gilliam’s “The Brothers Grimm” does notice. Unfortunately, that’s just about its only insight into the subject. The film shows no understanding of what makes fairy tales memorable and exciting, or why they have endured through the ages.”
In 2007 Korean “Henjel gwa Geuretel” came out, a horror-movie based on the “Hänsel und Gretel” story that actually sounds interesting.
“When Eun-soo gets lost in a country road, he meets a mysterious girl and is led to her fairytale like house in the middle of the forest. There, Eun-soo is trapped with the girl and her siblings who never age”.
I might try to get my hands on that one. Even though I don’t think it will live up to k-horror classics like The Tale Of Two Sisters.
Most of the films above are just mainstream fairytale adaptations, yet not counting the Disney ones. Take the Shrek movies for example, which have “borrowed” lots of fairytale characters during the years.
2011 brought a new wave of fairytale-movies.
The audience being warmed up by movies like the Twilight series, but at the same time finally getting bored of vampires, flocked the theatres at the opening of “Beastly” in April.
The story is based on “Beauty and the Beast”, following a highschool student apparently so in love with himself, that a young witch curses him – he’ll turn into a beast regularly until he finds true love.
Only able to brag with a 5.0 on IMDb it supposedly isn’t one of the best adaptations and I would rather watch the Disney version again before watching this. At least there’s singing.
The second 2011 fairytale was “Red Riding Hood“, starring another “Big Love” alumn, Amanda Seyfried.
Although the cast seemed promising (Gary Oldman!) and the director had proven himself to make movies the audience liked (Twilight) the movie’s rating can only deliver a 5.1.
A reviewer called it “ruined by trying to be too many things” and goes on to complain that “in fact, for a supposedly sexier take on a classic folk tale, it’s in desperate need of thrust in general. It flits around the idea of being a more adult folk tale but never commits”.
2012 surely will bring about many more “Grimm” stories, “Mirror, Mirror” one of them.
This one is another “Snow White” adaptation starring Julia Roberts and Sean Bean. Sean, Sean, will I have to watch you die again? Otherwise than that, I’m not really interested.
Director Tarsem Singh brought us “The Cell“, so I’m not really sure what to hope for with this one. And what can be expected from a man who thinks J-Lo can act?
It is tagged as “Comedy, Drama, Fantasy” and I’m quite afraid it’ll be no more than a Hollywood-lovestory… blech again.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” will be out in the summer of 2012. Here we go again, another Snow White? Oh dear. Would make you think that the Grimms hadn’t written down countless other stories to choose from.
Personally I’m not that eager for more of Kristen Steward‘s lip-biting or Chris Hemsworth‘s “look-at-my-nice-muscles”-attitude. But “Shaun of the Dead“‘s Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins and Charlize Theron still might convince me of giving the movie a chance.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” probably won’t be the taillight in the rising trend of fairytales.
The 20th December 2012 will mark the 200th birthday of the Grimms’ fairytales’ first edition and throughout Germany there will be lots of different festivities.
But why are fairytales still so popular?
There are countless reasons why people love fairytales. They’ve always been around, for one. Being imparted from one generation to the next, they are considered as poetry of the people. They can’t be traced back to one author, they’ve been told and re-told for hundreds of years.
And they keep on being told because there always is some truth in fairytales.
Each of us knows what it is to be on a quest for someone’s trust and respect, we have encountered evil witches of our times, fought against concepts that seemed more otherworldly than a scary dragon could.
The hero of a fairytale is us. He’s wandering, has to redeem himself. As do we.
Then of course, the world of fairytales offers escapism on a grand scale. It is hard to worry about mortgages, the rising cost of living or high numbers of unemployment when there are evil witches or wolves on the loose.
I could go on and on about fairytales, but will save the more scientific approach for my university studies, especially my Master of Arts thesis.
I don’t expect the fairytale-trend to die down soon. After all, it is another way for screenwriters to come up with new storylines … even if the stories themselves aren’t new.