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Archive for January 2012

A Year of Fairytales

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Are you ready for a fairytale year? What started timidly a decade ago with publications like the graphic novel series Fables has become the biggest trend at the moment. Fairytales retold in a contemporary context is not a new phenomenon. Literary retellings make a whole category of its own, but such a big success in the popular culture industry is only just recent.

Bill Willingham situates all fairytale characters in contemporary downtown New York, hiding their true identities from the normal mundane people or ‘mundys’. This is not the first time that fairytale characters find themselves misplaced. The 1987 TV series ‘The Charmings’ was an earlier such example. However the big boom of fairytales in the small and big screen is now.

Once Upon a Time finds all these characters trapped in Storybrooke, a contemporary Maine town. The ABC ongoing TV series created by the producers of Lost has numerous insider references for Lost fans and has already created a fandom of its own.

Grimm on the other hand, is more like a crime series with a fairytale twist. The last descendent of the Grimm family, famous monster killers, is a police detective and has just discovered his special ability to see the monsters around him. Each crime solving episode is a reference to a Grimm fairy tale.

And if you’d rather go for the big screen, a variety of choices awaits: two versions of Snow White, to start with. Julia Roberts is the funny Evil Queen in Mirror, Mirror and Charlize Theron the dark one in Snow White & the Huntsman. An addition to the darkness is Twilight Kristen Stewart as Snow White.

And here is some more: Jack the Giant Killer, an action movie with lots of giants and battles, from the director of X-men and a long awaited revenge for the two siblings in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

And more fairytale films are coming after 2012: Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion 2014 film will finally offer a closer to the Collodi original, darker version of Pinocchio, with Nick Cave as musical consultant. (See some first images here.) Or if you prefer a live action Pinocchio, Tim Burton is already thinking about it.

There are many theories that try to explain the reasons for this fairytale re-booming. Some say that we have run out of ideas and we rush to the old ones to get inspiration. Some others that the fairytale world offers to the average recession-affected person the escapist alternative world that, unlike the vampire and zombie previous trends, can still offer hope…

Or maybe fairytales are reflections of old myths that from time to time need to be retold and re-adjusted in order to convey their age old messages. Maybe some of those myths are the oldest of all. (to be continued…)