Thursday, August 31, 2017

PSA: Our Fairy Tale Newsroom's 2017 Summer Operating Schedule



Just a brief notice to let our regulars know that our Fairy Tale Newsroom will be open but not running at full capacity for the next little while.

Never fear: we will still post regularly during the week -as we can manage- from various locations.

We will resume our mostly-daily-or-more postings as soon as we all return to the OUABlog Headquarters, and our Fairy Tale News Hound is back in the office fulltime, for the per diem routine of news sourcing, sorting, researching and reporting (which we expect to coincide with the new school year/next semester commencement in late August... -ish).

Please note: Answering mail, however, is likely to be more delayed than usual.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Disney's New Short 'Olaf's Frozen Adventure' Brings the Holiday Folklore in Spades

In fact, it brings so many different traditions and holiday folklore to the table it might be considered 'edutainment'. (Not that we're complaining - because we're not. In case that's not clear... okay? Actually, more of these sorts of shorts for the various seasonal celebrations would be ultra awesome. Please!)

Take a look at the trailer and see how many different references you can find, just in this teaser. (We were thrilled to see yule goats included!) And you know there will be more in the full short. Our only query is whether they stuck to Euro traditions or went around the world.
'Olaf's Frozen Adventure' will play in theaters before Pixar's 'Coco', starting November 22nd.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Advertising: 2018 Toyota CH-R Respins Fairy Tales to Inspire Sales

Some of these are fresher than others, but what's most interesting is that Toyota are using fairy tales at all in this social climate. It's another example of the two extremes that people are being drawn toward right now: either cynicism and reframing everything through the eyes of a 'false fairy tale', or wishing for magic and dreaming for a 'real one'.

 Here's Cinderella: 

Rapunzel (in Spanish):


Red Riding Hood:


 The Gingerbread Man (our favorite): 

The Tortoise and the Hare:

And then there are all these 'bad lip reading of a commercial' spin-offs which take some of the same situations (particularly the gingerbread man ad) and insert largely nonsensical phrases just to keep you watching. Although they don't seem to have anything to do with the fairy tale re-spins, they're enough for any fairy tale writer to pause and wonder if they just might... (you can find all those at the official YouTube channel for Toyota HERE.)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Article: 'Fairy Tales for Resistance #RRR' by Gypsy Thornton

"We are all Red" (unofficial title) by Cuban artist ARES

Our Fairy Tale News Hound has a special article up on Enchanted Conversation today. It's all about the importance of fairy tales when it comes to resistance.

Here's the opening paragraph:

In fairy tales, wolves show their insides are the same as their outsides (despite their silver tongues), beanstalks prove to their climbers that greed is the true giant (though other big troubles may appear on the way) and flowers speak up to protest their plucking (even as they sink in their thorns). When impossible things happen, you begin to question reality. It's one of the reasons fairy tales are so very needed. Sometimes that Wonder, that impossibility, is the very thing that wakes us up and invites us to challenge the norm.
You can keep reading at Enchanted Conversation HERE.

We hope you will be inspired to keep use, telling and retelling fairy tales, and find solidarity with many others as you do. The hashtag/label, #RRR, that we're using on our Once Upon A Blog website, is searchable and by clicking it, you can find lots of inspiring reading, viewing and more. New posts are being tagged regularly and the recommendations are growing all the time.

While you're over at Enchanted Conversation, don't forget that:
  • You can sign up for the Fairy Tale Round Up Newsletter (which OUABlog and Timeless Tales contribute to). The first newsletter went out some time ago and the next will very shortly (within the week). You can find the sign-up in the side bar HERE or learn more about it before signing up HERE.

  • Enchanted Conversation is about to release their Donkeyskin issue, and Kate Wolford has just announced the writers for it HERE. The recent Diamonds and Toads issue was superb and we're really looking forward to this one too.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

As We Wished... Princess Buttercup Grows Up, Becomes Warrior Queen

Possibly the biggest fairy tale news trend this week is: it turns out Princess Buttercup grew up train Wonder Woman (as the Amazon warrior General Antiope)

Robin Wright, who played Buttercup in 1987, also plays the Amazon warrior General Antiope in the new Wonder Woman movie, and it's resonating with people everywhere, especially those who grew up with The Princess Bride.
It wasn't predictable, yet it seems... 'right'. For the generations that were inspired by Robin Wright's feisty farm girl-turned princess in The Princess Bride (a genre-defying treatment of fairy tales at the time), to see that heroine 'grow up' and become more of what she naturally seems to have been, developed fully through to a resistant warrior general, who still manages to hope and believe in love, seems a continuation of Buttercup's fairy tale - and one that fits the fairy tale heroine we always saw her to be, and now can be inspired by - in a fresh way - again.
For our Fairy Tale News Room folks, who are extremely happy about the Wonder Woman movie, that the movie is as good as we hoped it would be, and that generations of girls - and boys - will grow up with Diana as a relevant and respected role model (rather than being 'genre-d' to a corner with the comic books geeks, like she often so sadly has been), it's this depiction of an already strong fairy tale princess coming into her own that inspires us most.

After recently seeing another role model princess, Leia, become a general and have that resonate louder and stronger than Disney and filmmakers expected, Buttercup's 'fairy tale part II', is the groundwork of more of the same to come: princess power of a different sort. The kind of princess power where it's clear it isn't just the sword* that makes the warrior but the spirit.

We've had a lot of those fairy tale princesses appear in novels for some years now, but it speaks volumes to have the general public instantly recognize - and resonate with - a fairy tale heroine, become whom she was meant to be, and that her fairy tale representation is part of that. This is now in pop culture, recognized by society, rather than just by a select group who have been tracking strong fairy tale females all along.

Best of all, for those women especially, who have had this revelation and are thirsty for more fairy tale heroines to 'own it', we have already accumulated a whole lot of stories, books, collections and more to share.

Here's a great excerpt from Tor.com's article that appeared not long after we began our own, titled "Princess Buttercup Became the Warrior General Who Trained Wonder Woman, All Dreams Are Now Viable":
Antiope is the whispered possibility that many of us never dared to dream. What if (Buttercup) had grown in strength and stubbornness and power until she could train one of the greatest warriors of all time? What if Buttercup, who believed so desperately in love, had passed that wisdom on to a young girl who would hold that belief in trust for every person she met? What if that line between a princess bride and Princess Diana is as thin as a page in a storybook?
...Of all the outcomes, we somehow received the reality where Buttercup moved on to master archery and serve an Amazon queen and command legions. ...This progression seems not just plausible, but essential. It is an epilogue of a different kind.
We recommend reading the whole article. It's very uplifting and celebrates strong fairy tale females who have inspired generations, as well as new and timely role models for girls and women who could use a little inspiration again. It also doesn't downgrade the importance of fairy tales in this process of 'becoming'. If anything, the article underlines the importance of fairy tales in the process, and that, even when empowerment is achieved, it's in our best interest to continue holding them close.

We don't outgrow fairy tales. They can become part of us, even as they enable us to get there. Buttercup doesn't need to become Dread Pirate Roberts to 'fulfill her destiny'. The point is that, if she wanted to, she totally could.

* And yes, we don't mind swords - or arrows - either!

Monday, June 5, 2017

AFTS 'Sleeping Beauty' Bumper Issue Is Out

A lot of work went into this issue, which, adding up the hours, took approximately two-plus very solid months (including working with a variety of lovely writers and artists), to edit, source, design, produce and publish. With an effort at being as inclusive as possible (especially due to being later than originally planned) and keeping a high standard for this last issue that our Fairy Tale News Hound will be involved with (at least for a while), this issue turned out to be a 'bumper' - coming in at 60 pages. (Thank goodness there was a great proofing team helping finesse all the text and checking the final layouts!)

Please find the wonderful variety of contents listed below (available for current Australian Fairy Tale Society members only - new sign-ups this week also eligible):

William Morris border
  • Roundtable Discussion on Sleeping Beauty: 'Three Good Fairies on Roses, Thorns & Sleeping' - with 3 female writers, Belinda Calderone, Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario and Kate Forsyth  (all of whom did their PHDs in fairy tale studies)
  • 'Sleeping Kingdom, Waking Beauty' - a multimedia bardic exploration of Sleeping Beauty
    • review of the show by Margaret McKay
    • retrospective by creator & performer Reilly McCarron - from seed to stage
  • 'Sundown' - a new silhouette art by Spike Deane
  • 'The Spindle' - an article on spinning, spindles and yarn from Melissa Rose Tonkin
  • 'Re-Spin' by Graham Ross - a transcript from an oral retelling of a revamped Sleeping Beauty
  • 'Slumber Sweet Maids' - a Sleeping Beauty wallpaper pattern by Kathleen Jennings
  • 'Spinning the Legend of Briar Rose & the Pre-Raphaelites' - interview with Kate Forsyth, discussing her process of researching and writing her new novel 'Beauty in Thorns'
  • 'Spinning A Yarn - Sleeping Beauty & Anthrax' - AMA medical article by Jason Giacomel MBBS (reprinted with permission)
  • 'The Youngest Serf' - a wonderfully fun short story with a unique perspective on Sleeping Beauty (and other fairy tales princess problems) by Carla Billinghurst
  • 'Sleeping Kingdom, Waking Beauty' - script excerpts and audio preview (embedded MP3)
  • 'The Medic' a sci-fi Sleeping Beauty short story by Patsy Poppenbeek
  • 'Sleeping Beauty' illustration by Erin-Claire Barrow, with an atypical princess
  • 'The Needle & the Spoon' - a modern short fiction on the fairy tale, inspired by true events
  • 2017 AFTS Annual Conference Program and highlights to look forward to
  • Ripples From the Rings - local fairy tale monthly meeting summaries from around Australia
  • 'Prick' - an exclusive chapter preview of 'Beauty in Thorns' by Kate Forsyth (to be published July 2017 in Australia)
  • Announcements, Australian fairy tale calendar, AFTS member news & achievements
  • Editorial fairy tale comic
  • Plus a wide variety of Sleeping Beauty-related art and excerpts of recommended works
NB: The ezine, in PDF format, is digital only and not print resolution, due to restrictions on public domain image printing, and in an effort to keep the file as small as possible. Download from the members only, password protected link (sent to members via email after sign-up) is recommended for optimal viewing and to enable playing of embedded audio files.

The announcements also include the resignation notice of our Fairy Tale News Hound from her AFTS duties, including the ezine. (See below.) It was a very difficult decision to take a step back, especially with regard to this unique fairy tale focused magazine, but she felt it was personally necessary to do so at this time. We can vouch for the astonishing and unique pool of talent and expertise the Australian Fairy Tale Society has, and can testify that each one of the members our News Hound has worked with over the past eight to nine months (over four issues), has been a pleasure to work with in their enthusiasm and reach for excellence.

The ezine allows members of the AFTS the exclusive opportunity to submit new fairy tale works, fiction and non, visual and audio, for possible publication in the ezine (which is distributed to all members nationwide and overseas). We would love to see this initiative continue.

If you have enjoyed past issues, would like to see more (upcoming fairy tale themes are: Goose Girl, Aladdin, The Handless Maiden, Snow White, Wild Swans/Six Ravens, The Firebird) and could offer some help, please contact the AFTS at austfairytales@gmail.com.
Image above is by Léon Bakst from his Sleeping Beauty panel commission
'The aged king pleads with the good fairy..."
We love that Bakst used one of two interesting details Perrault's text includes, which are usually forgotten... (see below).
     When the accident happened to the princess, the good fairy who had saved her life by condemning her to sleep a hundred years was in the kingdom of Mataquin, twelve thousand leagues away. She was instantly warned of it, however, by a little dwarf who had a pair of seven-league boots, which are boots that enable one to cover seven leagues at a single step. The fairy set off at once, and within an hour her chariot of fire, drawn by dragons, was seen approaching.
     The king handed her down from her chariot, and she approved of all that he had done. But being gifted with great powers of foresight, she bethought herself that when the princess came to be awakened, she would be much distressed to find herself all alone in the old castle...
 
- Charles Perrault 'The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood'

Friday, June 2, 2017

Gans' Gorgeous 'Beauty and the Beast' Is On Netflix!

We know lots of readers have been waiting a very long time to see this. Now Netflix has the English language dub of this sumptuous French live action retelling of Beauty and the Beast. (The original actors are the voice dubs -they just re-recorded their lines in English, but the movie was shot in French - so English dub, despite the great voices, doesn't match lip sync.) 

Other great news, you can also choose to watch it in the original French - with or without English (or Spanish) subtitles! (It's been very difficult to find a disc that gives this option.)
It's not Disney. It's French, luscious and has much more in common with the French literary versions. Here Beauty has siblings, her father is a merchant and there is a new-but-feels-old mythical aspect to the Beast's backstory that is probably our favorite addition to the story. There are also a heck of a lot of Cocteau homages and you simply can't help but be amazed by the visual aesthetic brought to the whole production. Even the 'pedestrian' scenes without magic have a glow about them, while any scene with magic is breathtaking.
It's biggest criticism is people finding the beginning slow, or that it has "all these extra things about the family", but if you're expecting a musical with animated objects, instead of the merchant backstory and the tale being told to children, perhaps it might seem that way. This version initially develops the character of Belle in the context of her family, like the written version, and shows the strain which they are all under, echoing other themes throughout the better-known parts of the story. Despite having no dancing enchanted tea sets, and some additional human drama, this version has a lot of magic - a LOT.

Every frame is beautiful and the magic is, well magical, rather than just fancy fantasy.

Take a look at the English trailer:
Yes, it's not Cocteau, but if you like fairy tale and fantasy films, you'll be doing yourself a disservice not to check this out. It's a well made and beautiful film. The costumes are gorgeous, the effects are amazing, and it incorporates the importance - and magic - of the garden and roses. (And we love the use of statues.) There's thrills and adventure, romance, mystery, and sweetness and Belle and the Beast have a feisty, interesting relationship that develops in an unusual way. Vincent Cassel as both Prince and Beast is very compelling, (complete with very decent creature make-up and VFX) and Léa Seydoux as Belle is the stunning and modern fairy tale heroine you wish more films had - accessible and gracefully adapting to princess mode without losing that appeal. Most notably, Belle is so independent and has so much agency, even when staying 'true' to her time period, that it doesn't have that whiff of Stockholm syndrome other versions are criticized for.

The Beast has a story, Belle has a story, everyone in this film has their own story and they weave together affecting each other but none of them change their essential natures until they're ready to take that step themselves. (And you're not disappointed when the Beast transforms at the end!)
           
Here's a full clip (in French with English subtitles) in which Belle is late in joining the Beast for dinner. Just know that his story is more complicated (and satisfying) than it appears, even here.
Possibly the most basic and best thing is that this is a full-on fairy tale film. It's a big story, with a lot of scope and once the magic starts happening you are neck deep in fairy tale mode, never to leave again until the credits roll. It also has all the 'original' Beauty and the Beast fairy tale bits and pieces missing from other remakes (though it doesn't get waylaid by fairies or fairy politics, thank goodness!).

We only wish we could have seen this in the theater.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

AFTS Ezine Sleeping Beauty Issue Publishing This Week + AFTS 2017 Conference Program Line-Up Released

And yes, that's why we've been so busy. It's a bumper issue (60 pages!) with a lots of diverse new fairy tale works - from short stories, to stage, to storytelling, to sci-fi and much, much more! The issue includes an AFTS exclusive preview chapter from Kate Forsyth's new book 'Beauty in Thorns', (we've read it - it's amazing!), and a wonderful look at her writing process in weaving together Sleeping Beauty with the romantic and notorious stories behind Edward Burne-Jones' 'The Legend of Briar Rose' Pre-Raphaelite paintings, in a special interview. We already recommend this book, and may just have to import a copy from Oz for our library as soon as hard copies hit Australian shelves this July.

The ezine is available to Australian Fairy Tale Society (AFTS) members only. (It's one of the many benefits of paying an annual membership of $25.) Want to join? You can sign up HERE.

AFTS members:
watch your inboxes this week for the private member link to download, so you can see it in its proper - and very pretty - magazine format.
Expect lots of wonderful fairy tale reading in your very-near future!

We also want to take the opportunity to mention that the program for the 4th annual conference for the Australian Fairy Tale Society has also been released. The event will take place right after the Australian Winter Solstice on Saturday, June 24th 2017. Please find the program flyer below, designed by our News Hound, Gypsy Thornton, using wonderful artwork by world renowned, Australian artist Kathleen Jennings. Click to view full size.
Artwork used by permission: "Exotic (Thumbelina)" by Kathleen Jennings
You can find more information about the conference and register HERE.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Léon Bakst's Oddly Compelling Sleeping Beauty Series (with Commentary)

Close-up of Rothschild Sleeping Beauty panel by Léon Bakst
We're including information about these amazing Sleeping Beauty panels at the end of the post, but for fun, we decided to post these panel paintings with our own commentary, to draw your attention to some unusual - and amusing - aspects of these scenes.

Note: almost all symbolism is being thoroughly ignored in favor of first impressions, and any art history analysis is completely accidental.

Let's begin at the first panel, showing the moment the christening went horribly wrong:
The Bad Fairy Visits the Christening
So here we have the 'bad fairy' talking directly to the King, who looks bored, and a more concerned Queen. Meanwhile, on the floor, rats are swarming toward the cradle and the nannies are busy being very protective of the baby. One of them looks horrified and is choosing to shield the baby from the fairy, despite rats looking to make their way up her skirts, while the other is working on stopping the vermin with some good whacks of her, whatever that is - a fan?

It's a bit hard to tell if the rest of the folk are in shock, have no idea what's going on or are so bored they don't care.

Before we leave, we have to draw your attention to whatever is going on behind the curtain. We don't know what it is - but something shady is going on. (Perhaps the Bad Fairy's visual effects crew setting up? They're in black with those tell-tale floating heads of a backstage crew. Whomever they are, they 're about to be found out by the person wrapped in a gold, er, wraps, in front of them.)

Next: the Good Fairy takes her chance and gets a promotion up the fairy ranks with her bold initiative: while she's not powerful enough to stop the curse, she can bend it a little.
The Good Fairy's Promise
Here we see the Queen forgetting about her designer dress (though her ladies in waiting look to have been aware of the optics and fanned it out to best effect on the ground), crouching on the floor near the cradle, clearly begging for help from the young fairy, while the nannies are being perfect back-up nannies, having jumped to assist immediately, and apparently having banished the rats very effectively to follow their mistress.

Meanwhile, poor nervous apprentice fairy seems to have a body odor issue, as evidenced by the looks on the faces of the people next to, behind and across from her. (You thought they were magical radiance lines, like we did at first, didn't you? Well now you know. She just stressed.)

The royal guard have rushed at the cause of the initial commotion and are forcing the old woman - and her rats - out the door, perhaps overdoing the threat factor a little with that giant axe being swung at her head. Good thing she seems to have ducked in time. The painting behind her is looking on in a very judgmental fashion, but what can you expect from folks stuck on a wall in such a situation?

Meanwhile the King appears to be protecting his royal jewels and trying to not look as if he's lost control of the situation, (is that pregnant lady looking at him from the background very pointedly?) while the young fairy is looking a little wavery, like she's barely holding it together herself.

Oh and by the way, looks like the baby got a preview of the sleeping spell there. She's turned over and is looking pretty happily asleep now.

Fast forward fifteen and a half years to see Briar Rose checking out a teeny, squishy tower room, complete with foreshadowing crow in the top right corner:
The Princess Pricks Her Finger On A Spinning Wheel
Through a strangely distorted fish-eye-type-but-not-quite lens we see Beauty, who looks like she stole out of her dressing room in her underthings while no one was looking, having found a cool looking door, opened it and let herself in (because she's a princess and doesn't need to ask permission). 

The spinning woman, who can't seem to fit her spinning wheel anywhere else except next to the gigantic unsafe window, looks rather concerned her over-sized cat will escape out the open door, but Beauty is oblivious. In fact, the girl seems to be making it even more awkward for the old woman in that space, to the point where granny has just caught her wheel from being knocked over. Luckily, the enormous cat, likely full-bellied from having a lot of that creamy milk, is totally occupied with a gigantic ball of yarn (though it's clearly keeping escape as an option out of the corner of its eye).

Meanwhile, the bird in the cage is savvy enough to rock its prison so it will get launched out into the air, and dumb enough to not realize there's no door... The crow, watching, seemed to be finding this behavior quite stupid and Darwin-esque, so is so relaxed about it all, he's leaning on the wall, just waiting for his moment.

Knowing Beauty is about to swoon into an enchanted sleep, it seems more likely that she'll fall out that low-silled tower window, or impale herself on the spindle, rather than on the floor, at this point, but really, with a cat, a crow, a crazy bird and an off-balance old woman in the mix, anything could happen.

Cut to dear old dad calling on the Good Fairy (who has taken advantage of her job promotion to afford herself a chariot pulled by dragons), saying something along the lines of: "Halp! The thing the ugly one said came true, and Beauty's mother isn't around anywhere to fix this, so now I have to figure this mess out... Please? -whine, whine - I'm old and stuff, and shouldn't be working on fixing stuff any more..":
The Aged King Pleads with the Good Fairy
The dragon is looking at the gathering murder of crows and thinking "lunch?". The fairy, in upgraded designer garb, is looking dubiously at the jeweled cushion thingy her POC servant seems her to want to step on, effectively ignoring the King (who conveniently is wearing the same outfit as the last time her saw her, to help her recognize him), though the monkey is offering to take it if no one else wants it. The king has had the presence of mind to employ some convenient POC helpers with his cloak, although they're having issues because either they're the only ones who have noticed the dragon and are appropriately terrified, or are the only ones who can see it.

The self-important guys behind the King seem to be discussing the fairy's outfit and looking at her ankles, while the folks below clearly can't hear anything over the racket of the trumpet by the knight doing double-duty as a herald. (It could be our imagination but it looks like the African herald-helper just saw his long lost brother above, with the cushion, so he's sent the monkey up to get his attention, but the monkey is distracted by the cushion... sigh.)

So the Good Fairy does her thing and send the entire castle to sleep (and we need to give her a break because it looks like this is her first time trying her spell on this scale):
The Princess and the Court Fall Asleep for a Hundred Years
She doesn't do it very adroitly. Unlike other paintings where people fall asleep gracefully, here folks clearly collapsed right where they stood, including a couple who unfortunately face-planted, while others knocked heads together pretty hard on the way down. At least the guards' armor seems to be helping prop those guys up. As long as the end guy doesn't fall over, they should be good for a few years, until they rust in place together. The cricks happening in some of those necks are going to need a miracle of their own to survive though. Yikes.

It's not clear if the fairy did a Miracle-Gro spell on the plants around the castle at the same time, but it's either that or the royal gardeners have not been doing their jobs, because the moss and mold is out of control already, and it's only 'day one, a hundred years to go'. Eesh.

The fairy looks less than impressed with the whole effect, like the vision hasn't matched the outcome, but from the way she's holding her arms she's not going to bother re-doing it all, especially since she appears to have become flammable. (Perhaps her dragon is in the background and isn't fully trained yet.) At least she remembered to get Beauty out of the tower and onto a proper bed. Not too terrible for her first proper assignment.

Fast forward again, but this time ninety-nine years, nine months and twenty-nine days, to when a more modern Prince finds himself in the vicinity of the legend:
The Prince Out Hunting Sees the Castle Where the Princess Lies Sleeping
So perhaps he's not modern enough for even a Galileo telescope, and he's clearly not modern enough to treat his companions any better than a literal footstool, but this Prince, in his latest skinny-jean fashion-pants, has caught sight of something he likes and he's going to change everyone's plans by making that his new adventure. (His horse doesn't care - he found a good crop of grass and is going for it.)

His advisors are estimating the distance to the walls, not looking happy about the setting sun and the terrain between them and the prince's new ambition. To complicate matters, they all seem to have different ideas about which direction to take is best. The dogs only care about their dinner, which the guy who fell down the hill a little was holding.

Meanwhile, the prince's buddies are tooting their own horns - literally - while trying not to tear their own fashion-pants on the twisted dead tree branches that are stopping them from falling over the edge of the cliff. And all this as the wind is getting stronger and flopping their sun hats and fripperies around, making it clear their fashion choices for this venture have leaned toward hazardous.

 Cut all the boring bits about the Prince hacking his way through to the princess.. but wait: is this even the same guy? Maybe not. Which, would make sense, considering the scene above. And frankly, that's fine. He's dressed more appropriately for finding a princess and declaring himself to also be royal (the crowns make the theme kinda obvious: 'Princess Alert!'. If they could have been flashing, perhaps they would):
The Prince Discovers the Princess and Wakes Her With a Kiss
So Sleeping Beauty wakes up and although she's aged well for a hundred years, she's not sixteen anymore. (Hopefully that's a good thing.) Not sure when she got moved from the tower with the open window to this fancy boudoir but room theme should make it obvious she's got good breeding, even if her nightie is outdated and she speaks in medieval-ese.

The dog isn't completely sure he approves of this hand kissing business, though the princess is doing her best to be gracious (despite that what she really wants is a glass of water to rinse her mouth out, or maybe just a bathroom and some privacy). The prince isn't exactly sure he's doing the right thing either, all the while, keeping a close eye on that dog, who clearly believes he has dibs on princess-cuddles, and can you blame him?

And where is everyone else? That part isn't clear. Maybe their stasis spells weren't as effective as the one on the princess, but that's OK. As long as she's there, and can take that heavy crown off her head at some point really soon, all's good, right? The look on the princess' face says she has other thoughts about that though...

And so her real story begins...
[End of non-official, non-researched commentary.]

Note: Léon Bakst is probably best known for his association with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes and his opulent and inventive costume designs, that influenced the fashion and design world at large. He also created set designs and backgrounds for ballets but these Sleeping Beauty panels he created (aka The Sleeping Princess in the Wood), on commission for James de Rothschild in 1913 and finished in 1923,  seem largely unknown outside the art world, apart from the woken princess panel. (His costume designs for Diaghilev's Tchaikovsky production were rendered in 1921.) The paintings are from an era when people took their time looking at paintings, discovering details and aspects included at the artist's whim and own commentary. We just felt these panels included so many unusual elements that it was worth sharing our own commentary, because, after all, the eye of the beholder is where Beauty's true state is. ;)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Garrone's Live Action 'Pinocchio' Gets Harry Potter SFX Wizard

Pinocchio, which is currently being sold at Cannes, has signed one of the most sought after special effects folks in the business, Nick Dudman. We are guessing he is currently trying out a variety of noses for his new project...

We reported a while back on Italian Director Matteo Garrone (Tale of Tales) and his latest passion project, a live action, personal retelling of Pinocchio, which he is also writing. (You can find that earlier post HERE.)
Dudman told Variety that the new Italian-language “Pinocchio” will have a “flavor and look that’s quintessentially Italian” and will be different from what audiences are used to seeing in mainstream fantasy films. “It’s a very personal journey for Matteo,” Dudman said. “They are doing something very different from previous versions. It’s very dark.” 
“’Pinocchio’ is a dream of mine that goes back to when I was a child,” says Garrone. “On my desk I still have my own personal ‘Pinocchio’ story-board that I drew and colored in when I was a kid, and which is one of my most cherished mementos.” 
... Production is expected to begin in early 2018 in Sicily, Calabria and Tuscany. (Variety)
We're looking forward to see how this develops, if we can. Garrone was pretty strict with his closed sets on Tale of Tales, but this is, at last information, still supposed to be a family film and should be very different from everything Garrone has done to date. Either way - we won't have seen a Pinocchio like this one before.

In case you missed the note, it's been confirmed that unlike Tale of Tales, this film will be in Italian.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein to Direct 'Fairy Godmother'

We have to agree with the writers at iO9. This movie, that we had relegated to the don't-even-bother corner did just get way cooler!
Yes, that’s Carrie Brownstein of Portlandia fame, who in addition to being a comedy god is also an acclaimed author and a rock star. She could probably pick any project to make her feature-film directing debut, but something about Fairy Godmother must’ve appealed. According to Deadline, the script by blogger and playwright Chiara Atik sparked a bidding war last year, and it offers a spin on the classic fairy godmother story: 


'When sought after Fairy Godmother Faye is hired by a mind-bogglingly gorgeous teenage client, Kenzie, to find her true love with the hottest prince in the land, Faye finds herself facing an unfamiliar challenge when the prince starts falling for her instead.' (iO9)
Hm. Unless the description isn't disclosing some fabulous take on this, Carrie Brownstein really is the only thing keeping this movie from the 'likely to ignore' pile. We must have faith in the Brownstein and believe... (clap hard!)
                

Asleep Means 'No' For Sleeping Beauties Too

Illustrator unknown, coloring by child
Warning: this post references real news. If you are sensitive or have trigger issues, you may wish to stop reading.

On reading this awful news story, we're thinking this is the true dark side of society being familiar with, well, the dark side of fairy tales. Who would have thought the trigger warning often attached to an old fairy tale telling would be used as a defense in court?

And yes: before you continue:
TRIGGER WARNING
Though we are not including details, this article references sexual assault.
Please practice self-care in reading below.

This is the very real headline from May 18, 2017:

Doctor accused of drugging, raping patients claims ‘Sleeping Beauty fetish’

We repeat, this is not a drill. This is horribly, awfully real.

Here's the very weird testimony, recorded in court, as reported by ReviewJournal:
A suspended Las Vegas doctor accused of drugging and raping unconscious patients told jurors Thursday that he had a “Sleeping Beauty fetish,” which he acted out and videotaped with a woman during an affair.
... He acknowledged that she appeared unconscious in the recordings, but said the woman was actually awake and playing a role to act out his fantasy.
“Sleeping Beauty, kind of like a Disney movie, right?” prosecutor Alex Chen asked.
The doctor replied: “Sleeping Beauty meaning princess.” He referred to what’s known as somnophilia...
We're going to stop there, and let you look up the last word, in case you can't guess it's full meaning, because it goes on and gets worse, so if you want to read more about this bizarre "fetish defense" and what ensued in court, you can go to the article HERE.

Perhaps you are wondering, why on earth are you posting about this horrific thing on your lovely fairy tale blog? The thing is, the 'lovely' side of fairy tales is only one aspect of those tales. We all know there are many harsh and horrific ones, but society tends to relegate them to research, to case studies, and yes, to 'stories'. 

But we want to remind people that for many of us reading fairy tales, these issues are NOT stories. That they're real - newsworthy real. Perhaps they don't read so specifically like a dark old version of a fairy tale, but take out the 'wonder' aspect and you realize fairy tales are talking to us about the human condition, about human behavior, and about consequences and our choices.

We want to acknowledge all those who have survived their dark moments and have the courage to continue their tales. We want to acknowledge that it's a daily challenge and respect every second they choose life as a result. Like this photo from a set of survivor photos who chose the art of photography to communicate how they felt after being assaulted. (The photographer is a survivor too.)
Photo of survivor 1 by Elisa Iannacone"In the original fairytale, the princess is asleep and the prince rapes her.
I felt like 'Sleeping Beauty' and could have stayed in that tower forever."
This is one of the reasons fairy tales resonate so much, with so many people - because they talk about real, harsh, horrible things - things with consequences. Society is, in many ways, different now than it was when these tales were told, and again from when they were written down, yet it many ways it remains the same. It's acknowledged it was still a very bad thing 'before' but now that women are not property, the brutal behavior of what humans are capable of is even clearer.

The thing is, we're supposed to learn from the past, and yes, from fairy tales, to make the future better, not to twist it and curse others. We believe that in sharing these tales, our tales, with others we can share our support, and acknowledge that despite all of the dark, that we are not alone in our journey out from under that pall. Together we can resist the ongoing influence of those who believe they can impose their wills -and bodies- on us, and together we can help create a stronger protection for more of the dreamers to come.

Let's retell this fairy tale our way.

Note: as the court case stands, the doctor in question has been suspended from practicing indefinitely, however, jurors have not yet reached a consensus, and the deliberations will continue next week. We will not make an effort to follow this story, so if you wish to know the outcome, please refer back to the article and the links provided there.

Coming in October: 'Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards'

We need this! Since the advent of Pinterest (our happy place on the internet), people have collected all sorts of obscure fairy tale postcard images from auction sites, Ebay and their own scans. There have been so many new-to-us images, it's like a portal to how painters at the turn of the century (in particular), viewed fairy tales, not to mention just how very many there have been over the years, that we had no idea existed until quite recently. We're sure this new volume will have much more than just these (we are talking about a Zipes book where, so no doubt there will be tons of chewy informational goodness as part of the package) but we're looking forward to filling in the gaps on how fairy tales have been visually represented - and spread around the world, via airmail in particular (so traveling from country to country), over time, and what impact that has had on how fairy tale impressions and images have been disseminated.

Take a look at the juicy description. (We are so excited about this study! And note the bonus Marina Warner input):
The most familiar fairy tales call to mind certain images: Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty. Yet these visions often merely reflect illustrations encountered in classic tellings of the tales. The postcards gathered here by one of the world’s foremost scholars of folk and fairy tales tell another story—of the remarkable range of interpretations and reimaginings these tales have inspired, captured, and conveyed picture by picture in this singular form. 
A pictorial history of fairy-tale postcards from the late nineteenth century to the present, Tales of Wonder presents a fascinating look at how key scenes of fairy tales have been rendered over time, suggesting a rethinking and reliving of the tales through the years. 
Drawn from the author’s collection of more than three thousand fairy-tale postcards from around the world, these five hundred beautiful illustrations reproduce oil paintings, watercolors, photographs, ink drawings, and silhouettes—all evincing the myriad ways popular artists and their audiences have reimagined these tales. After an introduction and general history of fairy tales in postcards, the book features Jack Zipes’s own translations of the most classical fairy tales in Europe and the United States, including versions by Charles Perrault and by Brothers Grimm. 
The fairy tale is not just once upon a time: it is, as fairy-tale postcard, a particular if not peculiar expression of a time, created by talented artists and innovative publishing companies. Tales of Wonder tells this intriguing history of the postcards as well as providing new perspectives on familiar stories.
Aside: Whoa. Jack Zipes has more than three-thousand fairy tale postcards from all over the globe?! How awesome is that?

(Translate: we are a little jealous and wish we could visit, have tea and look at every one!)

'Tales of Wonder: Retelling Fairy Tales through Picture Postcards' will be available October 10, 2017 but you can pre-order now.

Note: artists of fairy tale postcards aren't always easy to figure out. Click the images to enlarge to full size. Most have an artist signature of some type, though they're not always straight forward to interpret. These images do not represent the content of the book. They are meant as examples of genuine fairy tale postcards only.