Once upon a time, on a late-summer afternoon, peaking out the window facing her green garden, a writer languished in her work-chamber in her fortified apartment. Through the window a chirping bird flew in and rested at her desk. The writer, surprised by the chirping bird, sang a sweet song about seeking inspiration for that day for a long overdue article.
The writer sprang from her desk and pranced around the room like a little girl. “Oh fairy tales!” she sang grabbing her tiny puppy who was resting on an armchair. She breezily moved back to her desk and said “Oh I can’t wait to see more information, data and statistics on it on the Net”. With a great smile she assembled some notes and made her work go viral as if with the wave of a magical wand.
Silly right? Not so. It’s a form of escapism that everyone procrastinates at some point or other. People love fantasizing, to tune out reality and thus, the cinema, a blackened room with one focal point, makes sure to whisk you away in the land of dreams.
While many franchises are getting rebooted, fairy tales are creeping out of the shadows and are finally having their share of the limelight.
You must have noticed the variety of fairy tales popping in and out: Of course they are just an extension of fantasy films and with the retelling happening to them, curiosity takes hold.
We have seen Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters; Snow White and the Huntsman; Mirror Mirror; Red Riding Hood, that did fairly well; and Jack the Giant Slayer, which landed with a thud earlier this year.
It does not take a crystal ball to realize that the money beans are listening. Of course, fans and film-makers would protest these versions are far darker, complicated from the child-friendly versions that we grew up listening to. But are they? Snow White lived with seven men, small men I might add. Pinocchio was a liar, Robin Hood was a thief, yet we admire him, and Sleeping Beauty was kissed by a total stranger and bloody married him. Worst of all, in the original fairy tales the main characters are kids. At least the updated versions have them older then eighteen.
If you look at the newer versions there are still damsels in distress, good always triumphs over evil, and by the end of act three the knight in shining armour saves the day. These versions still contain the monochromatic morality from the archetypes, however, they are now filled with kick-ass versions of the originals.
Back when Harry Potter conjured up a successful franchise of movie magic, many have followed the boy wizard’s footsteps and, since then, fantasy has been in fashion. Hollywood’s enthusiasm for expensive films based on fairy tales is high and there are plenty more projects coming down the pike.
Maleficent from Disney is billed as a deconstruction of Sleeping Beauty. Pan a re-imagining of J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan with Sean Bean as Smee (hopefully he doesn’t die in this one as well). Guillermo del Torro is said to be at the helm of Pinocchio, so surely a darker version is expected. Let’s not forget the loin-clothed hero Tarzan and the fishy tale of The Little Mermaid; as well as Arabian Nights, Cinderella and Enchanted 2.
The trend has also hit our TV screens with runaway success stories like Grimm, Once Upon a Time and soon Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Not bad.
When they hit, they will hit big. Let’s hope they are hits like the billion-dollar gross of Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland and not a disappointment like Jack and little Red.