Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Live Action Fairy Tale Adaptations


This week on Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks Meme, I'm at a bit of a loss.

Here's the thing: I've never seen a live action fairy tale adaptation. By that I mean, I have never seen a live action adaptation of a traditional fairy tale in the Grimm sense of the genre. It's just not my bag. I have seen quite a few great ones in the realm of fantasy that I think could work here, including Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride" (1987) and Ron Howard's "Willow" (1988). And I'm sure I saw several "fairy tale"-type movies growing up that I just don't have enough memory of, or love for, to offer as recommendations.


When I think of the idea of a fairy (or faery) though, my mind immediately goes to my favorite Romantic poet, John Keats, who wrote a ballad in 1819 called, "La Belle Dame sans Merci." It is, to me, the most beautiful ballad ever written in the English language. It's basically the tale of a knight enchanted by a beautiful woman, who takes him under her spell, only to leave him to die alone.

Here's a small piece of the Keats ballad:




I see a lily on thy brow
  With anguish moist and fever dew,        
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
  Fast withereth too.


I met a lady in the meads,
  Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,        
  And her eyes were wild.


I made a garland for her head,
  And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look’d at me as she did love,
  And made sweet moan.        


I set her on my pacing steed,
  And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
  A faery’s song.


She found me roots of relish sweet,
        
  And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
  “I love thee true.”


She took me to her elfin grot,
  And there she wept, and sigh’d fill sore,        
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
  With kisses four.




Keats' work here conjures up, to me, images of a beautiful lady of light hair wearing a flowing white dress surrounded by a mystical white light who casts spells with her beauty alone. It is this image that is driving my picks this week.

With that in mind, I bring you my picks in the category of Live Action Fairy Tale Adaptations:

"Hook" (Steven Spielberg, 1991)


Two images come to mind in this one. The first is of Peter Banning (Robin Williams), a grown Peter Pan on a mission to save his kidnapped children from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) in Neverland. He is thrown overboard Hook's ship and is greeted by beautiful mermaids, who kiss breath into him, saving his life. The other is the ultimate fairy of my childhood, the famed Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts). The odd relationship between Tink and the grown Peter is just that...odd...and oddly memorable. And, I guess, technically, this counts as a fairy-tale adaptation.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (Peter Jackson, 2001)


The image here is of the beautiful Elf Queen, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) in the first installment of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy. After The Fellowship's escape from the mines of Moria, Galadriel enchants Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) and welcomes them to her home where she offers them glimpses into her mirror and their futures. When Frodo offers her with The One Ring, she offers another glimpse of the future, one in which she is corrupted by the Ring's power. It's a beautiful sequence that is totally fairy tale in my mind.

"Lady in the Water" (M. Night Shyamalan, 2006)


The image on my mind here is of apartment complex handyman, Cleveland Heep's (Paul Giamatti) discovery of the mystical water nymph, Story (Bryce Dallas Howard). She is a frightened fairy-like being with a mission to better humanity by finding a writer (M. Night Shyamalan himself), who may one day change the world. Added to this is the battle between a great ensemble cast, including Bob Balaban, Jeffrey Wright, Freddy Rodriguez, Jared Harris, and Mary Beth Hurt, and a magical creature bent on keeping Story in the human world. Like most of Shyamalan's work, this one is just as divisive as any of the others. I love all of his movies, even "The Happening" (2008). He has a knack for tone and mood that many directors just don't have. Who cares about the weird-looking creatures when the storytelling is there? As for "The Lady in the Water," it is a classic literary fantasy, an original work inspired by fairy tales. 

24 comments:

  1. I didn't even consider Lord of the Rings as a fairy tale, but it works. I love those movies, I'm glad you chose it! I hated the Lady in the Water though. I kind of wanted to rage at the end of it. lol

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    1. Thanks. LOTR just fits the image I have of fairy tale so well in many places. I love Lady in the Water. People get so turned off by Shyamalan's stuff. I think he's a genius.

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    2. I completely agree with Brittani haha.

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  2. OMG...OH.MY.GOD! Keats. You love Keats. YOU LOVE KEATS! I know that this is about fairy tale adaptations, but all I can focus on is the fact that YOU LOVE KEATS! I first read him in, like, fifth grade and I was smitten. I have read a few of his biographies and have all of his work on my shelf. I LOVE HIM!!!

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    1. Yes sir! Keats is my boy. He and Blake really represent the best of Romantic Era poetry. Fuck Wordsworth and Coleridge! So glad we share yet another common interest.

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    2. Also, I should mention that my cat is named Keats, and my wife has a tattoo of one of the lines from this very poem, inspired by a note I wrote her when we first started dating.

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  3. You quoted Keats and now all I can think of is Bright Star and how fucking gorgeous it is.

    ...and how much I love Fellowship of the Ring. It's the only movie I've seen more than twice in theaters.

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    1. I am ashamed to say that I never got to see Bright Star. I actually forgot about it. It didn't open anywhere near me, so I just let it go by. Need to get it ASAP.

      The Fellowship of the Ring is by far my favorite of the trilogy.

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    2. It played near me for one week and I missed it and was SO ANGRY about it. But then I caught up with it on Netflix Instant (it still comes and goes there) and was just blown away. Beautiful, beautiful film.

      Fellowship should have won Best Picture that year. The whole "Honor the trilogy by honoring the third" thing is such bullshit. It is far and away the best of the trilogy, and that's saying something.

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    3. I'll look for it on Netflix. Hopefully, it will be up. If not, I may just put in in my DVD queue.

      Right you are about Fellowship, RotK is nowhere near as good. It drags like nothing I've ever seen.

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  4. Interesting choices for the theme. It's been years since I saw Hook, I didn't love it but it was okay. I've never seen Lady in the Water, a couple friends warned me away saying it was awful. The imagery was impressive but I loathed The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love how you tied them all together though.

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    1. Friends always try to persuade friends against Shyamalan. I believe him to be a very misunderstood genius in a lot of cases. I have pretty much loved every one of his movies all the way through The Happening.

      Hook is just solidified in me from my childhood. I loved it then and still do.

      I find The Lord of the Rings highly entertaining and quite beautiful. I do realize they are not for everyone. And they are a bit too long.

      Thanks,

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  5. I've only seen Fellowship. While I never thought of it as a fairy tale, it does fit the mold. Nice bold choice. Never bothered with Lady in the Water because I hate just about everything M. Night Iamasham (not a typo). I do love Unbreakable. That's by far his best in my opinion. Yes, it's better than The Sixth Sense.

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    1. I never thought of LOTR as a fairytale either but you're right...it does fit the mold...It was Tolkien's intention to create a folkish like tale wasn't it?
      Wandering through the Shelves

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    2. Thanks, Wendell. Fellowship really just fit my own image of fairy tale more than anything else.

      So many hate Shyamalan. I love him, and all of his work. He is an absolute master of mood. Signs is the shit! Creepy as hell. Great acting. Fine storytelling. Who cares about the weird alien man? Haha!

      Wanderer, very true about Tolkien. He created an entire alternate world full of its own folk tales.

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  6. I always thought Lady in the Water got a lot of undeserved hate. Howard is just luminous in it and it's a very interesting way to tell a fairy tale

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    1. Yes! Finally someone who agrees with me. Every bit of casting in that movie is perfect. And I love Howard. She is fantastic in everything I've seen her in.

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    2. I really hope Jurassic World will resurrect her career, she is a wonderful actress

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  7. Ah ha! This is what happens when an English teacher participates in a blogging event ... a Keats ballad! ;-) I absolutely love it!

    Hook is a great choice; I saw it a long time ago. And I LOVE LotR. I would never have thought to include it as a fairy tale, but that's exactly what it is. Great post!

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    1. Yep! Got me pegged. Keats is my fav!

      Hook is just straight up childhood for me. I loved it when my Mom took me to see it, and I still love it.

      Thanks so much.

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  8. It's quite rare to meet someone who likes all of M.Night film. I liked Signs and The Sixth Sense and didn't like After Earth or The Happening, but I may check out Lady in the Water. Lord of the Rings is a superb choice, didn't even cross my mind to be honest.

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    1. I haven't seen anything since The Happening. Neither of his latest have been my kind of thing. I much prefer his string if moody thrillers, starting with The Sixth Sense. Lady in the Water is quite a bit different for him and very fairy tale (twisted fairy tale). I saw most of his movies years after they were released and generally avoided the negative press and word of mouth. I watched them all sort of in a row a few years ago and never felt let down once.

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  9. I love Hook! Do you think Finding Neverland would fit because you know I love that movie!

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    1. Finding Neverland plays. I think a couple people actually did pick it.

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