Ever After (“Cinderella”)
Drew Barrymore’s take on Cinderella came as a revelation. When it first came out, I went to see it in the theater 5 times. I just could not get over how… fascinating a classic character could be. Rather than the ever-loving, ever-good heroine of Disney fame, Ever After presented us with a heroine who was sassy, intelligent, who got righteously angry, and who had human faults and desires. She was so relatable it was mind-blowing.
A Company of Wolves (“Little Red Riding Hood”)
My college library had a copy of this film and I watched it one afternoon while my roommate was at class. I’m not a huge fan of art-house movies. I tend to like my films straight-forward with a good dose of humor. BUT A Company of Wolves was such a delicious mix of myth, fairy tale, art, with just a touch of the historical that I couldn’t help but love it. And while some scenes are pretty icky, it’s overall a beautiful movie full of dream-like imagery.
This remains one of my top 3 Disney movies. And I cannot understand why it never reached the dizzying heights of success that Frozen did. To me, it had a much more solid story, a far superior heroine, and way better songs.
Snow White, A Tale of Terror (“Snow White”)
This was marketed as a horror movie and, admittedly, there are pretty icky moments in it. But, I think A Tale of Terror more closely cleaves to the original spirit of Grimm fairy tales than most renditions. A terrific blend of fantasy and horror that more than make up for the mix-bag of accents. If you haven’t checked out this underrated gem, do it soon!
The 10th Kingdom (Pretty much all of Grimm)
I first got to know this awesome mini-series when I worked at a Hallmark store in Indiana. The store’s owner had to give away an armload of VHS copies because Hallmark had decided the movie was too “racy” to be sold in their stores. But I say that anyone foolish enough to take on all of Grimm’s fairytales and not expect murder, mayhem, and horny wolves needs to steer clear of the movie business. In any case, The 10th Kingdom is everything I love in movies: funny, naughty, action-packed, twisty, and smart.
Arabian Nights (One Thousand and One Nights)
Another crazy miniseries. This one tackles the more famous of the Arabian tales. At turns fun, heart-wrenching, and always magical get your hands on a copy of this one.
The Princess and the Pea (“The Princess and the Pea”)
It’s funny how inspiration works. When I first saw this installment of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, it helped cement my desire to write stories. There was something so odd and sophisticated about it – from script to costumes to sets – that my fingers itched to try and create something as fantastical.
Fushigi Yuugi (loosely based on Chinese mythology)
At my very first Indianapolis InConjunction I was so shy and unsure of what I was doing that I spent most of my time in the dark anime room. And there I watched – from start to finish – this incredible anime series. Now, this wasn’t my first ride at the anime rodeo. My family spent several years in Japan when I was young (Army brat) and so I was exposed to the unique art form right from the source. But Fushigi Yugi was the first time I realized the scope and grandeur of which anime was capable. Romance, intrigue, action and adventure, humor, magic, and cross-dressing. What more can you ask for?
The Snow Queen (“The Snow Queen”)
I really do have a thing for Hallmark/Artisan miniseries. Their take on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen is no exception. It has little to do with the show’s star, Chelsea Hobbs, who plays Gerda. Hobbs is pretty wooden and not really strong enough for such a big leading role. She’s saved by the wonderful supporting cast, including Bridget Fonda as the titular character. And the script really captures the magic, fear, and grief of growing up and falling in love.
Labyrinth (Alice in Wonderland)
Okay, Alice in Wonderland is not, strictly-speaking, a fairy tale. But it certainly has all the elements present in more classic examples. And Jim Henson’s take on Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece is nothing short of genius.
In a side note: what other man besides the late, great David Bowie could pull off an androgynous Goblin King and make him so damn sexy and appealing?