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.

Monday, August 21, 2017

To-tal Eclipse of the Sun! (♪ ♫ Da-Doo ♪ ♫)

We had to pop back to the newsroom to comment on the inciting/climactic event of many fanciful stories, which is happening TODAY (August 21st, 2017), that is, the once in 100-ish year event (in North America) in which there is a ♪ ♫ To-tal Eclipse of the Sun! ♪ ♫
Solar eclipses... remind us, in a striking, purely visual way we can't ignore, that even something as basic as the sun shining in the middle of the day can get ... tweaked. 
It's unsettling. 
Films are a visual medium, and several Hollywood movies have employed solar eclipses as a kind of shorthand to signal to audiences that the normal rules have temporarily lifted, and things are about to get weird. (NPR
A notable fairy tale appearance would be the total solar eclipse in the underrated fairy tale 'Ladyhawke'. (Just put up with the 80's soundtrack. The story is totally worth it and we're not the only ones who think so. Want a fairy tale rundown on why this movie should rank high in your fairy tale movies list and could even be considered revisionist? Take a look at this awesome article, Is Ladyhawke the Best Fairy Tale of Them All? by Leah Schnelbach over on
The other two main fantasy stories are:

'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' (in which the 'Yankee', having a knowledge of the future, thanks to his fortuitously-handy, modern almanac, threatens to blot out the sun in Camelot, unless they release him, which they hurriedly do when the eclipse makes itself apparent...)

... and, of course, the odd appearance of the legendary Audrey II during a ♪ ♫ To-tal Eclipse of the Sun! ♪ ♫ ('Little Shop of Horrors'), which changed Seymour's (and Audrey's) life, and, in the director's alternate version, the lives of a whole city's worth of people, and more.

Also of note, since eclipses are all the rage today, is the possibility of a Lunar one being referred to in the Grimm's 'The Hare and the Hedgehog'. (See the paper proposing the idea HERE.) It is, perhaps, a little bit of a stretch (at least from our perspective) but an entertaining theory, nonetheless (and a good reason to take another look at a lesser known fairy tale).

Interestingly, while we find tales including an eclipse preclude the breakings of curses, and turns of fortunes to the better, as well as rare (and often supernatural) opportunities, folklore generally sees them as foreboding, with common mentions of dragons and giant beings (wolves, jaguars etc) swallowing the sun or being released to do their worst on the earth. (See the Smithsonian folklore roundup on eclipses HERE.)
And there's more interesting eclipse folklore HERE via

Those of fae circles and magik disciplines however, encourage the approach that an eclipse is more about a portal - an opportunity to bring about change and new beginnings (see NPR's roundup on those HERE).

And then there's the animal reaction, which is wonderful fodder for tales old and new. Check out this really cool simulation courtesy of CNN:
Whichever approach you take, it's a dramatic opportunity for 'something', especially when it comes to tales.

However you mark this event, take care of your precious eyesight and practice safe viewing! Happy Total Solar Eclipse 2017 folks!

NOTE: It is suggested that you keep your cats and dogs (all pets actually, chickens included) indoors so they won't damage their eyes or go blind during the eclipse as well. Stay safe and bright eyed everyone!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Only One Week Until...

Timeless Tales Rumpelstiltskin Submissions

...Timeless Tales Magazine will open for Rumpelstiltskin submissions! On August 18, they will begin accepting retellings of this classic trickster tale. Short stories or poetry welcome. Pay is a flat rate of $20 per piece. Writers should read the Timeless Tales Submissions page for full details. 

Some musings from from TT's editor, Tahlia: 

Ah, here we are again, gearing up for another issue. What's funny is that we received an astonishing number of poems for our King Arthur issue, but something tells me that a dude with a funny name might not inspire quite as many sonnets as romance and chivalry (SO MANY longing glances and melancholy sighs!). Personally, I believe there's a great deal of potential in the straw-into-gold imagery as a metaphor. We shall see what people come up with. 

If you need inspiration, one of my favorite authors, Vivian Vande Velde, wrote a hilarious book called The Rumpelstiltskin Problem that is devoted solely to picking apart this tale's many plot holes (Why the heck would someone who actually could spin straw into gold do so in exchange for some small pieces of jewelry???). It's a short book and you can probably whiz through it in an evening. 

Most Recent Cover
The cover on my copy of the book

Looking forward to reading everything that gets sent my way. Ready, set, WRITE!

Timeless Tales Magazine

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Advertising: Fantasy & Legend Help Sell Adventures in Mammoth Lakes

We just saw these commercials for the first time and felt we had to share. Although Mammoth Lakes should need no additional help in selling its beautiful locations to potential vacation-adventurers, it certainly amps the 'must go there' slot in one's mental notes!

Note: the commercials share a number of scenes, but each also has unique creature scenes too, so check them both out.
We shared this with the Carterhaugh Summer Legends course since this is pretty much exactly on topic. If you want to know more about people's connection with the land, famous spots, legendary creature sightings, specifically in the UK and in the US, folklorists Brittany Warman and Sara Cleto are the ones to track down and ask. The Summer Legends long course (happening right now) is highly recommended if you are interested in these sorts of topics (legends, location-based folklore, creature-specific lore - eg fairies, sea legends, etc - and cryptozoology), which, of course, have many ties to fairy tales.

And may we just say - the conversations held among participants are wonderful: intelligent, insightful, intriguing and FULL of stories!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Animator/director of 'The Girl Without Hands' on Why *This* Fairy Tale & Showing It To Kids

There is a really interesting interview at with the animator/director,
Sébastien Laudenbach, of The Girl Without Hands; the animated indie film making heads turn as it began it's limited theatrical release in the US last week.

In case you missed the latest news and overview of this film, go check out our post HERE, which includes trailers and art, to catch you up to date.

Specifically, Laudenbach responds very interestingly to three pertinent fairy tale questions, which we're extracting for you below.

Carlos Aguilar, MovieMaker Magazine (MM): What about this specific fairy tale did you find compelling?Sébastien Laudenbach (SL): When I read it, I immediately found it modern. I liked the path of the girl who has to leave a man’s world: her father first, then her prince. She has to be alone growing up. She needs time to be herself, to be whole. And when she is ready, she can come back to the world. This was very important for me. I think it was the first time I read a fairy tale that told such a story, a fairytale where being a princess was not the happy ending, where it was better to be a woman than a princess. It seemed universal to me. And it made me think about some parts of my youth. This is a story of a woman, but also the story of a man, the prince, who has to go away to fight in faraway wars, and come back. Also for him, it is better to be a man than a prince. This man is not a superman, not a superhero. He is a man, with his weaknesses. But as a simple man, he can be loved. 
MM: The stories in your shorts and in the one in this feature are similarly adult-oriented. Do you feel there is a lack of animated work that focuses on darker subjects, rather than being aimed at children? SL: I think you can tell everything you want with animation techniques. I am focused on adult topics, but I also like children-targeted movies. Children are a very good audience: They can understand a lot of things in a movie, even more than adults, sometimes. In France we released the film for an audience 8 years old and up. It was not easy, but it was very interesting. Their reaction was amazing. They understood the essence of the story: its violence and cruelty, but also its happy ending. Obviously they can’t understand some parts, but it doesn’t matter. The job of a child is to understand the world. So I like keeping some mystery, some dark parts. It is life! A lot of adult movies can be shown to children.  
MM: The Grimms’ ideas about greed, about vanity, about simplicity over opulence, and about persevering even in the worst of situations are expressed in the film with gorgeous visual poetry. Why do you think these concepts are still relevant today? SL: The most important theme for me is time. Everyone has to have time to be himself, to be whole and fulfilled. For someone it might take only a few years. For someone else it might take a lifetime. A lot of people, including myself when I was younger, take shelter in the wrong people. For me the tale is not about greed. The father is just troubled by his daughter’s body, which is changing. And he knows that she is ready to leave home, though he doesn’t want that. So between incest and the urge to keep his daughter at the house, the role of the father is mainly to cut off the possibility of the girl leaving and forcing her to be dependent on him. The more he does that, the more she wants to leave. Greed is just a medium to tell this. The concept of greed is always present in life, don’t you think?
For those fairy tale folk very interested in this tale, you may find Laudenbach's comments on how to portray her doing tasks/surviving without hands interesting too.

You can read the full replies and the whole interview HERE.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

OUAT Season 7 trailer & a Variety of Sneak Peeks from SDCC

San Diego Comic Con is now over and lots of news for upcoming TV series and movies was, as always, released to the delight of fans. OUAT was no exception and SDCC saw the official release of the trailer for this newly-re-vamped version of OUAT, as well as giving folks a sneak peek (first few minutes it looks like) of the first episode.

Official season 7 trailer:

 Sneak peek from the beginning of the first episode of season 7, titled 'Hyperion Heights':
If you'd like to know more there are videos on YouTube of the various OUAT panels in which both the creators and the cast for season 7 were interviewed and presenting, so you can find out more details that way if you're keen.

In the meantime, what's important for fairy tale folk to know is this: you may have noticed (or been made aware by the difficult-to-avoid news of it online), that Season 7 has a new and different Cinderella, but you may not know what that really means. Creators Horowitz and Kitsis are quick to point out this doesn't overwrite the original Cinderella of OUAT. (They say she's happily living in Storybrooke holding her very successful Mommy & Me classes). 
A grown-up Henry (season 7 new main character) meets a different Cinderella
What they're underlining is that Henry has discovered that there are different versions of the same tale in 'many different universes' (read, cultures), so a POC Cinderella isn't a rewrite, but an expansion, (though she does seem stuck with the European trappings of the white Cinderella). But it's still a good addition - POC have been underrepresented in the classic canon of tales. (OUAT's black Rapunzel was a wonderful standout and we wish we'd seen more of her.) Essentially we have a 'multiverse of fairy tales' now. 

We like this premise - of learning of variations on the well known tales. How much of the associated cultural diversity (apart from POC casting) makes it into the show is yet to be seen of course, but it's a move in the right direction at least. There will also be an effort to increase the diversity of LGBT characters this season; something which they began with some well known tale characters but it seems the emphasis will be closer to the show's core this time. (You can read more about the plans HERE.)
Some of the new regulars in OUAT's season 7 (Drizella, Alice, Tiana & Lady Tremaine)
Fans are reacting in polar opposites for the most part. While about half are just very sad most of the pillars of OUAT will no longer be seen regularly (most of the actors have contracts for limited appearances - usually one episode), some are also not happy that the emphasis is on 'a new Cinderella'. The other half have not only embraced the POC inclusion but are hoping to see that 'variations on the tales in different universes' expansion, explore diversity, so are optimistic.

It's certainly different from what we were expecting for the 'revisioning' of OUAT, but it's a welcome one, with a lot of possibilities. Although the tone will clearly be different, there will also be many callbacks to the first era of OUAT and it looks like the mythology of the show will stay intact too, so that should please fans who plan to continue watching. Either way, we can expect more fairy tale character mix-ups and revisionings in the usual OUAT style so likely we will be posting on the series for a while to come.
Season 7 begins this Fall, October 6, 2017...

By the way: the new title poster revealed at SDCC (and shown at the head of the post) holds some Easter eggs (hidden images) which some smart folks noticed and have shared. Most aren't spoilery but in case you don't want to know the sort of stories that are coming, we recommend you stop reading.


You sure you want to see?

OK - here they are:
magic flower
glass slipper
white rabbit

Friday, July 21, 2017

Guest Review (Theater): ‘The Woodsman’

Note from The Fairy Tale News Room: This review has been a long time in coming (all due to a kaffufle in our fairy tale newsroom, for which we apologize). HUGE thanks to razorfriend for this intriguing overview and insight into a play we've been ultra-curious about for some time.
We're including a trailer to give you a quick overview before we get into the wonderfully detailed article below:
'The Woodsman' (Broadway HD)
Review by razorfriend

‘The Woodsman’ played a few runs in New York City in recent years before ultimately closing in May 2016. Online streaming service BroadwayHD is now offering a video recording of the play as part of its catalogue; this review is of the recorded performance.

(Warning: This review is rather spoiler-heavy, as I’m assuming many readers of this review will already be familiar with the story told.)

Anyone who’s read ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ will be familiar with the tragic backstory of the Tin Woodman character: human woodcutter Nick Chopper falls in love with the beautiful Nimmee, slave of the Wicked Witch of the East. In order to destroy Nimmee’s chance for a different life, the Witch curses Nick’s axe so that it repeatedly turns against him as he chops wood, progressively amputating various parts of his body. Nick gets replacement body parts made of tin and carries on, but as time goes by he gradually gets Robocopped to such an extent that eventually every part of him has been replaced by tin. He thereby loses his heart, and with it loses the last vestiges of his humanity… or does he? (This story is primarily covered in the first ‘Oz’ book, but ‘Oz’ series fans will notice that the show has incorporated a retcon that Baum added to the story later on.)

‘The Woodsman’ play uses largely low-tech theatrical techniques, such as puppetry and live sound effects, to tell and expand this tale. The talented young cast, crew and musician (violinist Naomi Florin) work seamlessly together in animating multi-operator puppets, generating other visual effects with props, and creating an ongoing soundscape through music, clapping, whistling, vocalising and singing. Particularly impressive is the ‘Tin Man’ puppet itself, which requires close coordination between the actor playing the human Nick (James Ortiz) and the puppeteers helping to operate his gradually accumulating tin parts, so that actor and puppet parts appear to be part of a single being. It’s chilling to watch Nick become increasingly more encumbered by artificial prosthetics, and gradually surrounded by puppeteer ‘handlers’ required to help animate him like one of the lifeless puppets seen elsewhere in the show. The other puppets are also a joy to watch; it’s fascinating to see the theatrical magic of an immobile puppet face seemingly take on a new expression due to the tilting of the puppet’s head or the accompanying sound effects.

The show includes a short spoken prologue which I don’t believe, given my middling knowledge of the Oz mythos, was taken from Baum. It describes the oppressiveness of the Wicked Witch of the East’s rule, and how her pervasive magically-enhanced spying techniques made the people so afraid of being caught speaking perceived or actual dissent that “words became dangerous”. Therefore, from the prologue onwards, the story is conveyed with very minimal spoken dialogue. Although the idea of an oppressive ruler literally causing the elimination of speech is interesting, and perhaps worthy of a fairy tale or two in its own right (does anybody know of such a tale that already exists?), thankfully ‘The Woodsman’ doesn’t try to shoehorn in too much heavy-handed political commentary. The absence of speech is instead largely a source of creativity and humour as the characters find ways to communicate through vocalisations, gestures and (mostly) wordless singing. (The use of humour in the show is a relief in general; much as I love this tragic tale, the telling of it could easily have become maudlin.) The show is particularly good at convincing us of the budding romance between Nick and Nimmee (Eliza Martin Simpson), despite their initial awkwardness with one another being exacerbated by the absence of speech. The capable way in which the characters dealt with being voiceless was heartening to see, but also tied in well with Nick’s later obstinate stoicism as he was gradually robbed of other capabilities. Additionally, the minimal dialogue would, I imagine, make this show easy to understand for non-English speakers. It’s also interesting to imagine that this telling of the Wicked Witch of the East’s rule is continuous with the classic ‘Wizard of Oz’ movie; if so, then the words spoken by Glinda and the Munchkins to Dorothy near the start of that film are virtually the first words spoken in the land for years and years. No wonder they all start singing.

In addition to the speechlessness conceit, this adaptation also adds an interesting, canon-compatible character arc for Nimmee over the course of the show, when she might have been little more than a narrative pretext for our male protagonist’s tragic transformation. There are also another nice one or two thematic ideas and payoffs that I won’t spoil here.

(That said, be warned: detailed ending spoilers in this paragraph!) Funnily enough, my two main criticisms of the show relate to aspects which I wish had been less faithful to Baum. There are a few directions in which the show could have gone in relation to Nick’s final tragic loss of his torso, and with it his heart. The loss of his heart could have worked an actual transformation on his character; perhaps he could have become genuinely cruel or indifferent to Nimmee as a result of it. Or, his transformation could have been self-inflicted; he could mistakenly believe that after being completely transformed into tin, he was no longer capable of real human emotions, and so would leave Nimmee because he believed he could no longer ‘truly’ love her, not because he didn’t still feel love for her. Or perhaps the show could have played up the ambiguity of just how much of the man was left. The show goes with the second option, clearly showing that Nick still feels strong emotions after his transformation is complete. That take on the story is valid; but I felt that there could have been more build-up to Nick’s self-perception of his loss of humanity. One way of achieving this would have been for Nick to show some more disgust at his mutilated body and prosthetic tin limbs while he was still in the process of transforming, to help convince the audience that he would later believe that being made entirely of tin made him a monster. The vibe I got from his experience of being part-tin was more one of initial physical pain and struggle to use the new parts, as well as some pleasure and relief when he was able to get them working properly. His devastation when he became completely tin therefore seemed a bit abrupt. Yes, it’s only the loss of his heart specifically which really causes Nick problems in Baum’s book, and the show does do its best to establish the importance of hearts throughout, without the benefit of many spoken words with which to do so; but I still would have liked a little more clarity around this crucial plot point.
I also didn’t like that Nick seemed to have a sense of foreboding each time the axe’s curse got activated and it got ready to mutilate. Again, Baum did set the precedent here by implying that Nick becomes aware of the Witch’s scheme, and just doesn’t realise that she’ll take it as far as she does. But I would rather that the play had made a judicious revision regarding this point. Watching it play out, I couldn’t help but think, “If you have the slightest inkling that your axe might be possessed by an evil spirit, switch axes, dude!”
But criticisms aside, for the most part I thought this adaptation had a lot of heart (sorry), combined with technical virtuosity and creativity. It was very satisfying to see my favourite part of the Oz mythos get a theatrical adaptation from talented people who clearly love the material themselves.
Note about accessing the show online:
BroadwayHD is a bit like mini-Netflix for theatre lovers; it offers yearly and monthly subscriptions for access to its collection of streaming recorded plays, musicals and related content. It also offers one-off ‘tickets’ to stream individual shows for a limited period of time. Some of its content (including ‘The Woodsman’) is exclusive to BroadwayHD, and some not. Some shows and purchase options are not available in certain parts of the world; I imagine that all BroadwayHD options are available to users within the United States. Being located outside of the United States myself, I’m not able to purchase a blanket subscription for the entire catalogue, but was able to buy access to stream ‘The Woodsman’ specifically for two days for USD $7.99. I found the stream to be of reasonable quality, but did have to adjust my browser plugin settings to get it to work. If you’re interested in trying the service, I would recommend first looking at advice online (and not just on BroadwayHD’s website) regarding whether your device and settings will work, and also giving yourself a little time between your purchase and your ‘screening’ to troubleshoot any issues.

Online access
Show website:
Link to watch the show on BroadwayHD:
Show score recording on Spotify:
Show length: Approximately 75 minutes
Main credits
Originally produced and developed by Strangemen & Co Theatre Company
Creator and co-director (among other roles): James Ortiz
Co-director: Claire Karpen
Composer: Edward W Hardy
Lyricist: Jen Loring
Many thanks to razorfriend for an inspiring and thought-provoking review! 

Note: If you would like to write a review for any show, movie, book or other fairy tale related event or release, please contact Once Upon A Blog via the Fairy Tale News Room email. Reviews should be fairy tale and/or folklore related as per the focus of this blog. We are particularly interested in fairy tale performance reviews (theater, dance, puppetry, gallery events etc) from all over the world. While we cannot guarantee all reviews will be posted, we will consider every request.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

'The Girl Without Hands' Multi-Award Winning Animated Film (Limited US Theatrical Release Begins July 21)

We've been meaning to bring this to readers attention for a while and are very glad to see this French animated, full length feature, drawing the attention of mainstream media such as The New York Times, this week as it becomes available to see in the US in selected indie theaters.

Note: the alternate posters shown throughout this post were created by Paul Jeffrey of Passage Design, all of which can be seen HERE.
Created by one man (!), the film, being hailed a masterpiece and 'guaranteed to be an animation classic', is based on the Grimm's version of the tale, and cleverly and sensitively uses a very expressive-impressionist style to convey both characters and emotion throughout.

Take a look:

As a fairy tale reader, you're probably aware of how dark and harsh this story is - and therefore how much it means to so many people - and will be glad to know that although the style is gentle and colorful, it doesn't shy away from the dark themes.

For those a little rusty on the synopsis here's a summary, courtesy of GKids:
In hard times, a miller sells his daughter to the Devil. Protected by her purity, she escapes from the Devil who, in revenge, deprives her of her hands. So begins her long journey towards the light… but in spite of her resilience and the new protection of a handsome prince’s estate, the Devil devises a plan of his own.
From the New York Times review:
Perhaps more striking than the adaptation of the harsh narrative is the movie’s animation style. Mr. Laudenbach’s drawing eschews clean ink lines for a minimalist and impressionist aesthetic. He allows the water color swatches that stand in for characters and landscapes to create a dreamlike world that appears poetically endless. When lines do appear, they are thick and textured, like those of a sumi-e painting from Asia.
The result is a dazzlingly imaginative movie about survival. Left on her own, the woman in the story proves capable of taking care of herself, and later her child, once the constraints of comfort and gender roles are cast off.
Indie Wire has an exclusive 1min13second clip of the sequence HERE where the father is tricked by the Devil. It's definitely worth watching! (We are not embedding out of respect for this clip just surfacing)

Distribution has been picked up by GKids, with the film having a limited US theatrical release, starting in New York at the IFC tomorrow (July 21st). More dates and locations are being added to the official page on the GKids website HERE, so check it out and see if you're lucky enough to have this appear locally for you. With GKids - who are doing an amazing job of bringing world class animation from all over the globe to larger audiences - as the distributor, hopefully the full length feature will be available to add to our fairy tale film libraries on DVD and/or Blu-ray soon.

Please note: with the subject matter and the film being distributed by GKids, it may be a little confusing as to whom is the best audience for the film. By all reports, it can be considered accessible to some children and has a dreamlike quality about it, as well as a very female empowering message. There is no doubt it tells the same story as the Brothers Grimm, however, so due to this and the representation of some very dark concepts, the style is probably best suited for teens and above. Please use discretion (and perhaps a pre-viewing) if you intend to share this with children.
To help in deciding, there's a good description of style and some of the story aspects and approaches to storytelling in the Variety review HERE.

There is also a French book that's been released, using the drawings created for the film, which is advertised as being from ages 7-77. We can't find any notice of an English version of this book in the works so if you're keen, we suggest hunting down a French copy. You can read about it HERE.
The whole Fairy Tale News Room are all very much looking forward to seeing this film, and in many ways it feels as if the release of this film in the US this year, is rather fortuitous. We're very grateful to GKids for making the best animated storytelling from around the world available for us to see.

Pixar's New Untitled 'Suburban Fantasy World' Movie Will Have Elves & Trolls& Sprites in Surburbia

Image from presentation at D23 2017
At D23, the Disney fan convention, director of Monsters University, Dan Scanlon, came on stage to make a surprise announcement about a new, personal movie he's directing for Pixar. Currently untitled, it's described as being set in a 'Suburban Fantasy World'.

From movie web:
Rip Van Winkle by Mike Ploog
According to Scanlon, who lost his father at a very young age, the movie is inspired by the question he's always asked: 'Who was my father?' The story is set in a world with no humans, only elves, trolls and sprites... Scanlon went on to give a brief synopsis of the untitled animated movie that will fit right in with the tears that Pixar is so famous for. He explains this. 
 "In the film, we're going to tell the story of two teenage elf brothers whose father died when they were too young to remember him. But thanks to the little magic still left in the world, the boys embark on a quest that will allow them a chance to spend one last magical day with their father."
Bruce Pennington
(Additional quote via MTV): "The story takes place in a modern fantasy world where there once was magic — real magic — but it was hard to do and complicated to learn, so people just lost interest. In this world, a mix of "the fantastical and the everyday," humans don't exist. There are only elves, trolls, and sprites — or "anything that would be on the side of a van in the '70s," the director said. Oh, and unicorns are everywhere. They roam the streets of this modern, magical suburbia like rodents." 
(Emphasis in bold by OUABlog - because that looks like the style you can expect to see, sort of like 'The Night Begins To Shine' special event beginning August 1st, on the Teen Titans Go series, which albeit leaning more toward 80's than 70s, taps the same nostalgic vein.)
One of the more family friendly 70s van art images found via google (no credit given for the photo)
The homes on the street are apparently going to be Mushroom houses much like the Smurfs, but set in a modern time where there are satellite dishes sticking out of the roofs. Magical and majestic unicorns will be seen digging through the garbage much like a possum or raccoon. No release date has been set for the untitled movie, but it certainly does sound like a very Pixar affair, balancing the absurd with the heartbreakingly realistic portrayals of life even if the lives are those of troll, sprites, and elves that live in mushroom houses surrounded by magic.
Also - according to the D23 image - there will be dragons. We approve. Always good to remind heroes of how crunchy they can be.

Assuming the Pixar powers-that-be and associated creatives are accessing their childlike, nostalgic sides more than anything else though, it's likely we can expect an adventurous and humorous romp through Lord of the Rings-meets-D&D-in-suburbia, (or Stranger Things for kids), along with some heart-wrenching, family/origin story threads, designed to have us muttering about something in our eyes. 

In other words: bring it on.

What do you think? Are you intrigued? What do you think the potential is for a contemporary fairy tale-type story here? What troll, elf and sprite tropes (or lore) do you think Pixar will tap, if any?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Del Toro's 'The Shape of Water' is an Other-Worldly Fairy Tale

Poster by James Jean
“If I told you about her — the princess without a voice — what would I say?”
(Opening narration from the trailer)

So begins a very different exploration of a princess, and of a mer (not maid but) man. Set in the Cold War era of 1963, we're taken to the world of a mute and lonely cleaning woman of a high-security government lab, who discovers a top-secret experiment: an “aquatic man”, destined to be experimented on. The discovery - and he - change her life forever.

It sounds sci-fi/ monster-movie-ish: where is the fairy tale aspect? (we hear you ask...) Take a look at the trailer and see. There's something undeniably fairy tale about the way this story is told, and it's not just the strong styling. Clearly Guillermo del Toro is exploring a number of fairy tale themes here:
The mythology teases are tantalizing: All we know is that the creature was revered in the Amazon as a god but somehow ended up under U.S. government control. (Collider)
It seems not a whole lot is known about the synopsis other than what is shown in the trailer. From the initial pitch by del Toro and footage here, we could be looking at plot, or dreams, or both. The use of art as a medium within the film for storytelling is intriguing as well. Recalling shades of The Creature From the Black Lagoon and Night of the Hunter, both of which do have a fairy tale slant to them. Whatever the case, the mousey little woman finds her 'voice' and a strength it's unlikely anyone, including she, knew she had. 
Abe? Is that you?
And that appears to be where this 'other-worldy fairy tale', as it is officially described, begins. 

You may consider our curiosity piqued.
Fox Searchlight has given “The Shape of Water” an awards season release date of Dec. 8.