I love fairy tales. Folklore fascinates me, in all variations, but I really love a fairytale down to my ever-loving, feminist heart. With a new version of Snow White hitting theaters on the heels of retellings of Beauty and the Beast (Beastly) and Little Red Riding Hood (Red Riding Hood). Here are some of my favorite reworkings or retellings of fairy tales. I’m not saying they are the best, I’m just saying these are the ones that I go to the most.
There is so much to say about each of them, so I’ll try to keep it brief and to the point. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to pass them along. I love a good read or watch.
In no particular order:
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Sam Neill, Monica Keena, and Gil Bellows, the movie is filled with a decent cast, it’s just too bad about the writing. The plot is passable, but the details are overworked, and for some reason this appeals to me. Probably because I love the idea of a fairy tale as an attention grabbing story that is over the top. Fairy tales aren’t just for entertainment, but also for teaching lessons and explaining cultural practices as much as an folktale.
Sigourney Weaver as the evil and crazed witch of a step-mother is dark and fun to behold. Monica Keena is very good at little helpless girl coming into her own. Sam Neill is Sam Neill. I’m pretty certain he was happy to have intimate scenes with Sigouney, but in between that and his moments of contemplation, he is quite passable as a doting, but somewhat lost father who is being shut down where he is most vulnerable.
The show-stopper for me, though, is Gil Bellows. The man is talented, and can completely pull of the angst-ridden, pained man who has lost his family in an incredible disheartening way. The tension he creates on his own is magnificent, and works magnificently with the group of men in the woods that are the dwarves of the story.
You’ll laugh as much as you’ll enjoy the dark story and graphic depictions. There are a few squicky moments, but overall worth the time.
2. Moss Gown
I read Moss Gown as a little girl, and have never outgrown love for it. William H. Hooks pulled very much from King Lear when he wrote this story, but I read it as a Cinderella tale. The main character was very sweet, and just trying to be the best she could be. When she leaves her family home and eventually finds her prince, she is still the same woman, only a little wiser, if still not willing to stick up for herself. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story takes place in the American South, which is very near and dear to my heart, even when it’s being stupid.
The story itself is still quite discriminatory as it pulls from the sensibilities of the South, even if it is cleaned up for a more modern consumption.
Retelling the legends of Arthur and his round table, Mists is a feminist version of the legends. It forces a potential view at the misogyny and religious intolerance the stories are built on, even as it weaves a beautiful piece of fiction. The protagonists are the women of the legends so often glanced over as breeding pieces or evil spectres. These are characters with conflicts and cares as varied and deep as their male counterpoints.
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s long novel was actually turned into a made for television miniseries starring Anjelica Huston and Julianna Margulies. Due to the nature of a miniseries, even as it is a better format than a movie, it still cannot capture the detail and depth of story telling that the novel can.
Neil Gaiman is already a bit of an awesome possum in my head, but you add in his penchant for working a story fresh, and you’ve got one hell of a retelling. Snow, Glass, Apples is actually a short story included in several different anthologies and publications, and it asks the question ‘what if Snow White weren’t the victim?’ The above link is to Gaiman’s book of short stories Smoke and Mirrors on Amazon.com.
The dark of the story, as well as the uneasiness, twists in your gut long after you’ve read the story. The concept of the step mother as a sympathetic character is unsettling, as even when you are supposed to identify with a villain-turned-not villain, they are not usually good people. There is a reason that they are read as evil to the general populace.
Fables is a comic book series that takes fairy tales from all over, though mostly Europe, and weaves them into a modern story. The legends have their back stories similar to the way we know them, but they are all from a land that has been invaded by an occupying force bent on domination. The characters have escape into our world, and have been living amongst us for some time, just trying to survive and keep their culture intact, if adapted to this modern, mundane world.
The story lines are intriguing, giving the audience glimpses into how these characters are real people. The artistry in the panels is beautiful. The covers are pieces that I would love to display in my home. All in all, I can seriously say that this is one retelling I love wholly from start to finish.