Friday, June 27, 2014

Fairy Tales, Old and New.

Here are some pictures I took at my friends tea party, which seems like an appropriate set of photos to share in a blog post about fairy tales. Tea parties are the type of thing that fairy tale characters love!

 My friend recently had a Disney movie night where we watched the movie "Beauty and The Beast." This was most definitely one of my favorites as a kid and I even had the soundtrack. I liked this movie partly because Belle is a curious book nerd. It seems that everyone else at the movie night also liked this about the movie because there was a chorus of 'ooohss' and 'awwws' when the Beast shows Belle his fantastic library. It is different watching these movies as an adult because it is easier to spot the not-so-great gender politics creeping around the edges of the movie. I've laughed before at the joke that this movie is really about Stockholm's syndrome. Although, I think Beauty and the Beast is a step in the right direction because the heroine is much more of an independent thinker who can be kind while still standing up for herself (most of the time. There were certainly a couple of times early in the movie where she should of told Gaston to shove it!) Noticing the weirdness that seeps into children's movies doesn't ruin them for me. It makes it it more interesting to be able to analyze them in a modern day context and to see how much things have changed even since I was a kid. It makes me really appreciate movies like 'Frozen.'
  A week or so after the movie night I ended up watching the movie 'Penelope' which is a movie I have been curious about for a while but hadn't yet watched. It turns out that it was a modern retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fable. In this movie, a woman is cursed with a pig face and according to the curse will only be set free when a certain kind of upper-class gentleman falls in love with her. Well, the twist is....... (SPOILER ALERT!!!! Close your eyes if you haven't seen the movie!)....... that Penelope was the only one who had the power to break the curse. I really love these modern retelling where the main characters have the power to save themselves. It sends the message that love can be an important part of one's life without it being the defining part of one's life. And that although it is important to be able to depend and trust others, it is also important to be able to trust and depend oneself. Another thing I liked about Penelope is the sets. I always get swept up in whimsically twee set design. 
  The modern retelling of fairy tales is very popular right now (or maybe it always has been.... since the dawn of the first fairy tale!) and I think at least partly because fairy tales are both magical and otherworldly while also being so comfortably familiar. Another retelling of a fairy tale I was exposed to recently was the graphic novel 'Delphine' by Richard Sala. While reading it, I definitely got a fairy tale-esque impression of it, but it wasn't until I read about the book elsewhere that I found out it was a retelling of Snow White. But now thinking back I realize there were lots of obvious references to the original source. What I liked most about this story though was the way the author created an eerie atmosphere. It felt very kafkaesque, or Shirley Jacksonesque. There was something not quite being told. The logic of the story was so slightly skewed as if to suggest a dream. The threats were understated, which made them all the more terrifying! This was my first introduction to Sala's work, but I love these types of Gothic tales and I also love the way Sala told his Gothic tale so I will be looking forward to reading more of his work. 

  What is your favorite modern-day-retelling of a fairy tale?


Laurie Duncan said...

I would like to see Penelope, I've been thinking of getting it from the library. It sounds really good! :)

Amber said...

Hi Laurie, I think you should definitely check it out!