Fairy tales have become the latest fad in films. It seems superheroes are heading out and fantastical stories are taking over. We’ve had several Snow White films leading the way, and now there is “Jack the Giant Slayer” and “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.” Both movies put a twist on the classic fairy tale, giving them a bigger story. Many countries have taken classic fairy tales and given them new life at the movies. Some have changed the stories, made them darker, and others have created new fairy tales that might become classics in the years to come.
South Korean Horror Films of Popular Fairy Tales
South Korea’s favorite thing to do is to take fairy tales that were once dark and creepy, that later become happy children’s stories, and then bring them back to their old roots only much more creepy. There have been at least three horror adaptations of fairy tales, including “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Red Shoes.” All three films make references to the original fairy tale, but do not follow the story. For example, “Cinderella” is about the step-sister and not Cinderella. “The Red Shoes” is interesting because it is based on a little known fairy tale, the story of a girl with cursed shoes that make her dance forever.
Japan’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ Stays True to the Original Fairy Tale
In 1975, Japan released an animated version of Han’s Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. The story stays true to the original fairy tale, complete with depressing ending. Marina, the mermaid princess, has a dolphin for a best friend. She falls in love with a human prince and gives up her voice to become human. The prince falls in love with another woman, and Marina is told she can only become a mermaid again if she kills the prince. She lets him live, and then turns into sea foam. No wonder Disney changed the story to a happy ending. The Japanese film was dubbed into English for a U.S. release.
Don’t forget Studio Ghibli’s version of The Little Mermaid, “Ponyo.” Now that is a completely different take on the original story.
Studio Ghibli Creates New Fairy Tales
Speaking of Studio Ghibli, the animation company has created their own fairy tales. By using stories, legends, and other bits of fantasy, the company has told new stories that will continue to enchant children years to come. One day, these films might be called fairy tales. Examples include “Princess Mononoke,” with its lesson about nature and progress living together, and “My Neighbor Totoro,” which has turned the tree spirit into a fairy tale creature known to all.
France’s Early Telling of Beauty and the Beast Still Stands Out Today
Everyone must admit that the Disney “Beauty and the Beast” is one of the best fairy tale retellings ever put on film. Not everyone knows about “La Belle et la Bete,” a 1946 French telling of the fairy tale. Despite it’s age, the film still holds the attention of viewers. The cinematography still remains some of the best today, and the story still captivates. It’s dark, sad, beautiful, and haunting all in one.
Guillermo del Toro Gives Fairy Tale Creatures a New Look
Imagine a fairy. Does it look like a giant bug? How about a faun? Faun’s are usually depicted with a human body and goat legs, possibly with horns on the head. In “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the faun has a human body, but looks like it is made of a tree with giant curvy horns that wrap in a near circle. He is creepy, yet not so scary. He looks real. Del Toro created a dark fairy tale, using classical fairy tale creatures, and gave them updated looks that seem more realistic. It is by far one of the best fairy tales ever created.