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Movie producers have altered the way fairy tales are told, but in what ways have they been able to present an illusion that once existed only in the pages of a story? Below is an excerpt from Marina Warner’s Once Upon a Time that explores the magic that movies bring to the tales:
From the earliest experiments by George Meliès in Paris in the 1890s to the present day dominion of Disney Productions and Pixar, fairy tales have been told in the cinema. The concept of illusion carries two distinct, profound, and contradictory meanings in the medium of film: first, the film itself is an illusion, and, bar a few initiates screaming at the appearance of a moving train in the medium’s earliest viewings, everyone in the cinema knows they are being stunned by wonders wrought by science. All appearances in the cinema are conjured by shadow play and artifice, and technologies ever more skilled at illusion: CGI produces living breathing simulacra—of velociraptors (Jurassic Park), elvish castles (Lord of the Rings), soaring bionicmonsters (Avatar), grotesque and terrifying monsters (the Alien series), while the modern Rapunzel wields her mane like a lasso and a whip, or deploys it to make a footbridge. Such visualizations are designed to stun us, and they succeed: so much is being done for us by animators and filmmakers, there is no room for personal imaginings. The wicked queen in Snow White (1937) has become imprinted, and she keeps those exact features when we return to the story; Ariel, Disney’s flame-haired Little Mermaid, has eclipsed her wispy and poignant predecessors, conjured chiefly by the words of Andersen’s story
A counterpoised form of illusion, however, now flourishes rampantly at the core of fairytale films, and has become central to the realization on screen of the stories, especially in entertainment which aims at a crossover or child audience. Contemporary commercial cinema has continued the Victorian shift from irresponsible amusement to responsible instruction, and kept faith with fairy tales’ protest against existing injustices. Many current family films posit spirited, hopeful alternatives (in Shrek Princess Fiona is podgy, liverish, ugly, and delightful; in Tangled, Rapunzel is a super heroine, brainy and brawny; in the hugely successful Disney film Frozen (2013), inspired by The Snow Queen, the younger sister Anna overcomes ice storms, avalanches, and eternal winter to save Elsa, her elder). Screenwriters display iconoclastic verve, but they are working from the premise that screen illusions have power to become fact. ‘Wishing on a star’ is the ideology of the dreamfactory, and has given rise to indignant critique, that fairy tales peddle empty consumerism and wishful thinking. The writer Terri Windling, who specializes in the genre of teen fantasy, deplores the once prevailing tendency towards positive thinking and sunny success:
The fairy tale journey may look like an outward trek across plains and mountains, through castles and forests, but the actual movement is inward, into the lands of the soul. The dark path of the fairytale forest lies in the shadows of our imagination, the depths of our unconscious. To travel to the wood, to face its dangers, is to emerge transformed by this experience. Particularly for children whose world does not resemble the simplified world of television sit-coms . . . this ability to travel inward, to face fear and transform it, is a skill they will use all their lives. We do children—and ourselves—a grave disservice by censoring the old tales, glossing over the darker passages and ambiguities
Fairy tale and film enjoy a profound affinity because the cinema animates phenomena, no matter how inert; made of light and motion, its illusions match the enchanted animism of fairy tale: animals speak, carpets fly, objects move and act of their own accord. One of the darker forerunners of Mozart’s flute is an uncanny instrument that plays in several ballads and stories: a bone that bears witness to a murder. In the Grimms’ tale, ‘The Singing Bone’, the shepherd who finds it doesn’t react in terror and run, but thinks to himself, ‘What a strange little horn, singing of its own accord like that. I must take it to the king.’ The bone sings out the truth of what happened, and the whole skeleton of the victim is dug up, and his murderer—his elder brother and rival in love—is unmasked, sewn into a sack, and drowned.
This version is less than two pages long: a tiny, supersaturated solution of the Grimms: grotesque and macabre detail, uncanny dynamics of life-in-death, moral piety, and rough justice. But the story also presents a vivid metaphor for film itself: singing bones. (It’s therefore apt, if a little eerie, that the celluloid from which film stock was first made was itself composed of rendered-down bones.)
Early animators’ choice of themes reveals how they responded to a deeply laid sympathy between their medium of film and the uncanny vitality of inert things. Lotte Reiniger, the writer-director of the first full-length animated feature (The Adventures of Prince Achmed), made dazzling ‘shadow puppet’ cartoons inspired by the fairy tales of Grimm, Andersen, and Wilhelm Hauff; she continued making films for over a thirty-year period, first in her native Berlin and later in London, for children’s television. Her Cinderella (1922) is a comic—and grisly— masterpiece.
Early Disney films, made by the man himself, reflect traditional fables’ personification of animals—mice and ducks and cats and foxes; in this century, by contrast, things come to life, no matter how inert they are: computerization observes no boundaries to generating lifelike, kinetic, cybernetic, and virtual reality.
Featured image credit: “Dca animation building” by Carterhawk – Own work. Licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The post Techno-magic: Cinema and fairy tale appeared first on OUPblog.
So how are you?
Isn't that grand?!
I have been... not here, as you may have noticed. But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about all you all!! I haz been. I just haz kept it to myself.
Yes, trusted followers, you see this gif? This gif, here? That means I am watching/watched a new show!! At the moment only the first three seasons are out, but the fourth is airing/going to air soon. It is called GRIMM and that guy there, the smugly smiling one with the epic book, is my fav'rite character. Dat's Nick. I likes him muchly.
I haz made some new Etsy things, in time for Halloween...
The Scream Team:
The Li'l Punkins
I have also made these little butteflies, which will eventually join my Etsy shop and will be my first Origami Jewelry featured on my shop, but right now they're just paper. Not lacquered and beautiful yet.
I am going to be attempting more jewelry stuff during the week, and I'm doing my bestest to post the new things on Instagram, so I now has an Instagram you can follow!
All righty, I came, I saw, I posted...
That means my work here is done.
Continuing on with Baltimore Comic-Con announcements, Dynamite have announced yet another new series, building up what is rapidly becoming a huge list of new projects from the company. This weekend saw the company reveal that Jai Nitz and José Malaga will be the creative team for a five issue miniseries called Grimm: The Warlock, based on the TV show.
This follows previous Grimm comics at Dynamite which were planned out by show creators Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, and released for Free Comic Book Day. Grimm is a police procedural show with heavy elements of fantasy – the main characters have to deal with crimes committed by supernatural monsters and fairytale creatures, known on the show as Wesen.
The miniseries will see the Grimm team looking into allegations of match-fixing at a basketball which keeps Portland’s team out of the playoffs. Whilst looking into it, they encounter small-town hostility building up, which then ultimately will probably lead them to a tangle with some kind of monster. If I’d have to guess, I’d wager perhaps a warlock?
Nitz, speaking on the news, quoth:
I wanted to show parts of Portland that would be impossible to film for the show for logistical reasons, but would be amazing in the comic and the mythos in general. I wanted to capture some of the dark grandeur of the show along with the humor of the actors in particular. That’s the fun of comics. We don’t have a special effects budget or limit. We can do anything you can imagine with pencil and paper. It’s fun to push the limits of an already established show on the page.
The first issue of Grimm: The Warlock is solicited for December. Dynamite released some of Malaga’s art in preview:
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Any Which Way by Annastaysia Savage Twelve year old Sadie has moved to and from several foster homes since her mother died in a car accident. She is bullied at school and called “Crazy Sadie,” by the other students and maybe even a teacher. Sadie is “crazy” because she refuses to believe her mother is [...]
By: Anastasia Goodstein,
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This week, the major TV networks got all dressed up to court advertisers at their upfront presentations. They casually announced several show cancellations — “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “Hellcats,” “$#*! My Dad Says,” and many,... Read the rest of this post
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The tales gathered by the Grimm brothers are at once familiar, fantastic, homely, and frightening. They seem to belong to no time, or to some distant feudal age of fairytale imagining. Grand palaces, humble cottages, and the forest full of menace are their settings; and they are peopled by kings and princesses, witches and robbers, millers and golden birds, stepmothers and talking frogs. Regarded from their inception both as uncosy nursery stories and as raw material for the folklorist the tales were in fact compositions, collected from literate tellers and shaped into a distinctive kind of literature. Yesterday, we gave you the first installment of The Water of Life. What happens to the scheming elder princes and their sea-water goblet next? And will the youngest prince live happily ever after with his beautiful princess? Read on…
The Water of Life: continued…
Now when they arrived home the youngest took his goblet to the sick king for him to drink from it and regain his strength. But scarcely had the king drunk a sip of the bitter sea-water when he became even more ill than before. And as he was lamenting over this, the two elder sons came and accused the youngest of intending to poison the king; they had brought him the true Water of Life, they said, offering it to him. He had scarcely drunk a sip when he felt his sickness vanish, and he became as strong and healthy as he had been in his young days. Afterwards the two of them went to the youngest and mocked him, saying: ‘There’s no doubt you found the Water of Life — but you had the trouble and we have the reward. You should have been cleverer and kept your eyes open. We took it from you while you were asleep on the ship, and when the year is out one of us will go and fetch the beautiful king’s daughter. But mind you don’t reveal any of this. Father won’t believe you anyway, and if you say a single word you shall lose your life as well. But if you are silent you shall keep it.’
The king was angry with his youngest son, and believed he had plotted against his life. So he summoned the court together for them to pronounce sentence upon him: he was to be shot in secret. Now one day, when the prince was going hunting and suspected no ill, the king’s huntsman was ordered to accompany him. When they were out in the forest alone the huntsman was looking so sorrowful that the prince asked him: ‘Good huntsman, what is the matter?’ The huntsman said: ‘I may not tell you, but even so, I should.’ So the prince said: ‘Out with it, whatever it is, I will forgive you.’ ‘Oh,’ said the huntsman, ‘I am supposed to shoot you dead. The king has commanded me.’ The prince was startled at this, and said: ‘Good huntsman, let me live. I will give you my royal garments; in return give me your humble clothes.’ The huntsman said: ‘I’ll do so gladly. I could not have shot at you anyway.’ So they exchanged clothes and the huntsman went home; as for the prince, he went deeper into the forest.
After some time three carriages arrived at the old king’s court with gold and precious stones for his youngest son. They were sent by the three kings who had defeated their enemies with the prince’s sword and fed their lands with his bread, and they wanted to show their gratitude. At that the old king thought: ‘Could it be that my son was innocent?’ And he spoke to his men: ‘If only he still lived! How sorry I am that I had him killed.’ ‘He is still alive,’ said the huntsman. ‘I could not bring myself to carry out your command,’ and he told the king what had happened. A weight fell from the king’s heart, and he had it proclaimed in all the kingdoms round about that his son’s return was permitted, and that he should be welcomed with mercy.
As for the kin
Twelve Dancing Princesses, by Rachel Isadora
A Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator gives this classic fairy tale a brand-new setting!
Night after night, the twelve princesses mysteriously wear out their shoes. But how? The king promises a great reward to any man who can solve the mystery. Rachel Isadora has revitalized and reimagined this well-loved Brothers Grimm fairytale by bringing the story of the twelve princesses to Africa...If you liked this, try:
The Fisherman and his Wife
Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave
Puss in Boots
The Wild Swans
Blog: Kid Lit Reviews
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Ol’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble by Jan Huling Henri Sorensen, illustrator Peachtree Publishers 5 Stars . Inside Jacket: Ol’ Bloo Donkey has always dreamed of retiring from the cotton field to become a honky-tonk singer. But when he overhears the type of retirement plan Farmer Brown has in mind for him—of the permanent …
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By Jessica Harris
This month our Oxford World’s Classics reading list is on folk and fairy tales. Many of these stories pre-date the printing press, and most will no doubt continue to be told for hundreds of years to come. How many of these have you heard of, and have we missed out your favourite? Let us know in the comments.
No list on folklore would be complete without Beowulf: probably the most famous English folk tale and a great story. This half-historical, half-legendary epic poem written by an unknown poet between the 8th and 11th century tells the story of the majestic hero Beowulf, who saves Hrothgar, the Danish king, from monstrous and terrifying enemies before eventually being slain. Through this tale of swashbuckling adventure we also see the power struggles and brutality of medieval politics.
Selected Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
In 1812 the Brothers Grimm took contemporary German folk tales and shaped them in their own bloodthirsty way, and in doing so captivated and horrified children for years to come. There are no morals here; no happy endings – the antagonists such as the evil stepmother won’t just steal your sweets but would kill you without a second thought. Here we have, for example, the original Snow White, with the Witch forced to dance in red-hot shoes until her death.
Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory
This text, written by Sir Thomas Malory in 1470, provides us with the definitive version of many of the King Arthur stories: the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Lancelot’s betrayal, and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Here we see the Round Table full of warring factions; we see Arthur the King discredited by Lancelot, who begins an affair with his wife, Guinevere, and we see Arthur’s supporters’ revenge that Arthur is powerless to prevent. The book shows how Arthur and his court lived and felt – and it’s no wonder the legend is such a fundamental part of British culture.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
When the mysterious Green Knight turns up at King Arthur’s court and challenges anyone to strike him with his axe and accept a return blow in a year and a day, Sir Gawain, the youngest Knight in Sir Arthur’s court, decides to prove his mettle by accepting the challenge. However, when he strikes the Green Knight and beheads him, the man laughs, picks up his head and tells Gawain he has a year and a day to live. Despite being written in the fourteenth century, this poem’s main theme – proving yourself – makes it instantly relatable and compelling.
Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales
Statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading The Ugly Duckling, in Central Park, New York City
by Hans Christian Andersen
This collection of fairy tales is a world away from Grimm’s violent and sinister collection – this Danish author was the creator of charming, accessible stories such as The Ugly Duckling and the Emperor’s New Clothes. Despite being poorly received when they were first published in 1936 because of their informality and focus on being amusing rather than educational, these stories have entertained generations of children. Christian Andersen invented the “fairy tale” as we know it today – simple, timeless stories that explore universal themes and end happily.
Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas
This saga was originally told orally around 1000 CE and was written down in the thirteenth or fourteenth century and is a major landmark in Icelandic folk literature. It tells the story of Eirik’s exile for murder, the same fate as his father, and his discovery and settlement in “Vinland”, a lush, plentiful country. It is believed to describe one of the first discoveries of North America, five hundred years before Captain Cook.
This epic comes from Medieval Germany and is a masterpiece of fantasy storytelling. Written in 1200 but rediscovered in the 1700s, it has since become the German national epic – on a par with the Iliad or the Ramayana. This story has it all: dragons, invisibility cloaks, fortune telling, and hoards of treasure guarded by dwarves and giants. We see love, jealousy and conflict, and the story ends with awful slaughter. The story has inspired a number of adaptations, including Wagner’s Ring cycle.
The Mabinogion is a collection of eleven medieval Welsh stories which combine Arthurian legend, Celtic myth and social narrative to create an epic series – its importance as a record of the history of culture and mythology in Wales is enormous. The stories are fantastical: the Four Branches of the Mabinogi are tales about British pagan gods recreated as human heroes, and sociological: The Dream of Macsen Wledig is an exaggerated story about the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus.
Jessica Harris graduated from Warwick University with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics and has been working as an intern in the Online Product Marketing department in the Oxford office of Oxford University Press.
For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog.
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Image credit: Statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading The Ugly Duckling, in Central Park, New York City. By Dismas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The post A folklore and fairy tales reading list from Oxford World’s Classics appeared first on OUPblog.
O, waily, waily...for woe is the state of the English language from one end of my fair state to the next. Or at least from the middle to the far end. Yes, friends, Romans, compatriots -- it's time once again for that annoying English major tribute,... Read the rest of this post
Hwy 505, just outside of Vacaville: Local Grown Peaches.Apparently it would have killed them to add the -ly.Oh! But there's awesome usage news -- via Bookshelves of Doom, I a.) found out about a new grammar site -- and b.) discovered that they have... Read the rest of this post
Man, I got this one up in record time. I may have missed Thursday anywhere that observes Greenwich Mean Time or later, but in the U.S. of A.--contiguous and non-contiguous--I'm still doing great. Then again, I am procrastinating about the revision... Read the rest of this post
I found a few interesting links to share with you today. Since I recently took on some new freelance editing work and may end up with some more, I was interested in self-quizzes for the AP Stylebook. I have a copy, and refer to it a lot, but I still... Read the rest of this post
I just found out that I'm slow and apparently I missed the deadline to register for Teen Read Week (this year's theme is Laugh Out Loud - LOL - and don't miss the awesome-looking website). Via Jen Robinson's Book Page comes all the info.In Cybils... Read the rest of this post
Kidlitosphere: You will note that I DID try not to start right out in a new place with A Bad Attitude.Many of you may feel my linguistic nitpicking is narrow minded, tight-fisted, ham-handed -- name your cliché. Many of you know that I am quite... Read the rest of this post
"So why do we teach history to our children? Is it for the glow of pleasure we get when we hear their cherubic little mouths repeating the names and dates of all the kings and queens since Edward the Confessor, each battle they fought, every treaty... Read the rest of this post
Congratulations to Sara at Read Write Believe for her winning entry! This one was a lot of fun to draw, and I got to abuse Photoshop textures. Whee!Unfortunately (for you all, but fortunately for me!!) I will be on vacation starting next Thursday,... Read the rest of this post
This week's challenge is to illustrate, in your style, a scene or memory of:
Grimm's Fairy Tales
You can illustrate the Disney-fied versions or the "grim" versions. Here's Wikipedia on Grimm and here's some Grimm Fairy Tales.
A little sketchbook sketch from one of my favorite fairytales Allerleirauh. It's about a girl who is about to be pressed into marraige with her father so she runs away and disguises herself in a mantle of furs. From there it becomes a Cinderella type story. She hides in a castle where everyone thinks she's a furry monster who cooks soup really well.
This March and every March it is still winter up here in northern New England. To drive away the cabin fever our church players present a winter interlude. This year we chose to "re-load" some of the Grimm Brothers fairy tales.
I was asked to paint sets that could double as a cottage or a castle and create a tower for the Rapunzel story. In all, five tales were told with story and song.
My favorite of all was the Three Spinning Fairies, and more about that later, but here are some shots of the sets.
The total measurement was 38 feet across by nine feet high. The tree/tower for Rapunzel was a total of 12 feet wide wrapped around a structure that included doors to go in and out of and an unseen ladder in the back. The doors were invisible until opened as we cut them out after the scenery had been applied to the wooden structure.
I put a little figure of Rapunzel up there to show the scale.
And here is a close up of the corner of the cottage.
I would love to have had more time to work on the paintings, but we are usually limited to a few weeks before the sets have to be up and ready for rehearsals. Perhaps because I illustrate children's books, I am more demanding of myself and although I wasn't totally pleased with the final results, the audiences seemed to like the sets very much.
The paper comes on 9 foot by 36 foot rolls and is ordered from a stage set supply house. I use my own acrylic paints but when the sets require huge amounts of paint or more than one set of scenery I mix those with regular acrylic house paint to stretch the medium. The result is that the set paper gains a quality sort of like oil cloth and we can roll up the paintings and save them for the next production. Then we either reuse what was painted before or paint right over the old paintings.
Want to know what the hardest part of all this is????? Finding a place with enough space to paint these huge scenes before they are attached to the flats.
All RIGHT, that's it, that's it, that is IT!From now on, I am a woman on a mission. The madness MUST stop.I know people fear adverbs, but things like the State of Washington (and apparently the state of Texas and New Jersey) wanting me to "Drive... Read the rest of this post
Whew, you guys, what a week! My brain's a little mushy after reveling in all of this writerly brilliance these last seven days. Thanks for dropping by for the wild week that was the Summer Blog Blast Tour. I can't wait to do it again.Here are a few... Read the rest of this post
This one's for TadMack and her Most Egregious Misuses--I like to call it Most Egregious Use, because, although correct, it just doesn't sound right. Spied on a packet of chocolate McVitie's Digestive Biscuits: "Eat Healthily." Urrrgghhh.Along with... Read the rest of this post