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Fairy Tale Films

Visions of Ambiguity

Pauline Greenhill

Publication Year: 2010

In this, the first collection of essays to address the development of fairy tale film as a genre, Pauline Greenhill and Sidney Eve Matrix stress, "the mirror of fairy-tale film reflects not so much what its audience members actually are but how they see themselves and their potential to develop (or, likewise, to regress)." As Jack Zipes says further in the foreword, “Folk and fairy tales pervade our lives constantly through television soap operas and commercials, in comic books and cartoons, in school plays and storytelling performances, in our superstitions and prayers for miracles, and in our dreams and daydreams. The artistic re-creations of fairy-tale plots and characters in film—the parodies, the aesthetic experimentation, and the mixing of genres to engender new insights into art and life— mirror possibilities of estranging ourselves from designated roles, along with the conventional patterns of the classical tales.”

Here, scholars from film, folklore, and cultural studies move discussion beyond the well-known Disney movies to the many other filmic adaptations of fairy tales and to the widespread use of fairy tale tropes, themes, and motifs in cinema.

Published by: Utah State University Press

Title Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-9

Pauline and Sidney Eve thank the contributors for their patience with the process of revision and rewriting. We thank John Alley for being a persistent, but warmly appreciative, editor. We thank Jack Zipes and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments and suggestions that greatly improved this book. We thank John Dobson for his attentive indexing. We ...

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Foreword: Grounding the Spell: The Fairy Tale Film and Transformation

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pp. ix-xiii

In The Oxford History of World Cinema (1996), edited by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and advertised as 'the definitive history of cinema worldwide," there is not one word about fairy tale films. Even in the chapter on animation, the term "fairy tale" does not appear. All this is very strange, if not bizarre, given the fact that two fairy tale films "Snow White and the ...

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Introduction: Envisioning Ambiguity: Fairy Tale Films

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pp. 1-22

Fairy tales are fictional narratives that combine human and nonhuman protagonists with elements of wonder and the supernatural. They come in traditional (usually collected from oral tellers) or literary (formally composed and written) forms. Each traditional fairy tale telling forms a copy for which there is no original. Every version offers a snapshot ...

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1. Mixing It Up: Generic Complexity and Gender Ideology in Early Twenty-first Century Fairy Tale Films

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pp. 23-41

While folklorists often define the fairy tale or tale of magic as a narrative where the supernatural is never questioned - thus requiring the audience's absolute suspension of disbelief - recent fairy tale films seem to thrive precisely on raising questions about the realism, if not the reality, of fairy tales and their heroines. For instance, in the popular 1998 film ...

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2. Building the Perfect Product: The Commodification of Childhood in Contemporary Fairy Tale Film

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pp. 42-59

In the twenty-first century, when genetic manipulation, robotics, organ transplants, and neuropharmaceutical drugs are familiar to most people's worldviews, the story of a little boy who is literally built by a paternal figure continues to engage audiences. The wooden puppet, Pinocchio, written into the cultural imagination by Carlo Collodi in 1883, provides a ...

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3. The Parallelism of the Fantastic and the Real: Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth/El Laberinto del fauno and Neomagical Realism

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pp. 60-78

Fairy tales have undergone multiple changes and evolved over the centuries as a result of the prejudices and preferences of authors, folklorists, and film directors, producers, and screenwriters. For example, Cinderella's tale (ATU 510A), replicated in Disney's Cinderella (directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, 1950) and ...

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4. Fitting the Glass Slipper: A Comparative Study of the Princess's Role in the Harry Potter Novels and Films

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pp. 79-98

The fairy tale princess has become familiar to Euro-North Americans through bedtime stories, children's literature, and Disney films. The prolific fairy tale theorist Jack Zipes has gone so far as to claim-possibly exaggerating for effect-that "it is not by chance that the fairy tale film has become the most popular cultural commodity in America, if not the world" ...

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5. The Shoe Still Fits: Ever After and the Pursuit of a Feminist Cinderella

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pp. 99-115

The 1998 film Ever After: A Cinderella Story, directed by Andy Tennant and starring Drew Barrymore, is a delightful retelling of "Cinderella". (ATU 510A) for a contemporary audience that has grown up with second-wave feminism and its arguments about the problematically sexist representation of women. Unlike other popular literary and cinematic Cinderellas, ...

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6. Mourning Mothers and Seeing Siblings: Feminism and Place in The Juniper Tree

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pp. 116-136

Folklorists contend that some stories can be traced through time and space yet retain their fundamental form even in the face of different tellers' cultural and symbolic inflections. Indeed, a few fairy tales, like "The Juniper Tree" (ATU 720), have been extensively told and retold in genres other than their primary oral and written forms. They contain multiple ...

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7. Disney's Enchanted: Patriarchal Backlash and Nostalgia in a Fairy Tale Film

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pp. 137-156

Walt Disney Studios promoted their movie Enchanted (directed by Kevin Lima, 2007) as a celebratory self-parody of their classic fairy tale films, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (directed by David Hand, 1937), Cinderella (directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, 1950), and Sleeping Beauty (directed by Clyde Geronimi, ...

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8. Fairy Tale Film in the Classroom: Feminist Cultural Pedagogy, Angela Carter, and Neil Jordan's The Company of Wolves

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pp. 157-177

According to Jack Zipes, readers intuitively know that a narrative is a fairy tale, and the same can be said of fairy tale film (1997, 61).1 But even though the genre is recognizable regardless of form or medium, audience approaches can be unpredictable. In this chapter, I want to explore a particular audience's reactions and understanding when a specific familiar ...

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9. A Secret Midnight Ball and a Magic Cloak of Invisibility: The Cinematic Folklore of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut

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pp. 178-197

This chapter demonstrates the intertexual relationship between Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), and the international fairy tale known as "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" (ATU 306) -also variously called "The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes" and "The Secret Ball."2 I argue that approaching Eyes Wide Shut through the analytic lens of its borrowings ...

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10. Tim Burton and the Idea of Fairy Tales

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pp. 198-218

American filmmaker Tim Burton has, for nearly two decades, performed potent countermagic to Hollywood's syrupy adaptations of fairy tales and fables. While films like Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Alice in Wonderland (2010) illustrate the extent to which he has engaged the genre, Burton's links to towering figures like Washington Irving, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, ...

List of Tale Types and Literary Stories

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pp. 219-220


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pp. 221-238


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pp. 239-243


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pp. 245-247


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pp. 249-263

E-ISBN-13: 9780874217827
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874217810

Publication Year: 2010