Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fairy Tale Fans: Meet the International Fairy-Tale Filmography, By Lissa Sloan

International Fairy-Tale Filmography Banner (By Nikki Pilgrim, using movie stills from Melies' work)
Editor's note: Lissa Sloan is an old friend to EC and is currently busy with her writing career. You can find lots of great articles by her is you look for her name under the labels here on the site. I asked her to help me out in exploring the new source outlined below. KW
 
Until recently, if you had asked me how many fairy tale films were out there, I would have said, aside from Disney animated ones, and some new ones resulting from the current popularity of fairy tales, not too many. Thanks to the International Fairy-Tale Filmography, iftf.uwinnipeg.ca, I now know how wrong I was. The International Fairy-Tale Filmography is the creation of Jack Zipes, Pauline Greenhill, and Kendra Magnus-Johnston and was funded by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It is an extensive, searchable, and free online database of over two thousand fairy tale films.
 
On diving into this database, I found it quite user-friendly. It can be searched by several categories. So a searcher looking for The Company of Wolves can find it by entering its title, director (Neil Jordan), country (UK), or origin (Little Red Riding Hood). If you don't know exactly what you're looking for, it is also easy to browse these categories. Each film's record includes some basic information about it, such as director, country of origin, and leading cast members. Often there is a link to the film's record on the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), and sometimes, if the film is old enough to be in the public domain and has been archived, there is even a link to watch it online!
 
I was especially curious to see if some of my favorite lesser-known tales have appeared on film and was pleasantly surprised to see that there are in fact three versions of Bearskin. Another of my favorites is Allerleirauh, and searching for this one was more difficult, likely because there are many names and many different versions of the original tale, such as Donkeyskin, Thousandfurs, and Roughskin. Fortunately, when searching in the origin field, the searcher can search not only by original tale name, but also by Aarne-Thompson-Uther tale-type. I quickly learned to keep a second window open for looking up the tale-type number. Googling “Allerleirauh Aarne Thompson” gave me the result I needed: 510B, Unnatural Love. By entering the appropriate number into the search box, I easily found seven different films of Donkeyskin or similar, three of the Search for the Lost Husband type, and even one based on The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs.
 
The filmography is especially impressive when looking up more popular tales. When I looked up Bluebeard, over fifty films appeared, made as early as 1897 and as recently as 2010, made in France, Austria, the US, the UK, and even Japan. In addition to more obviously titled films such as Barbe Bleu, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, and Bluebeard Jr., the list included Charlie Chaplin's uncharacteristic talkie Monsieur Verdoux, Jane Eyre, and Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers Notorious, Spellbound, and Suspicion. I felt there was a Bluebeard film missing though. While Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Rebecca appeared under origin tales Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, it did not appear in the Bluebeard list. Happily though, the International Fairy Tale Filmography is a work in progress, and a collaborative one. Users of the database are encourage to contribute suggestions, so I did. I sent them an email and received a very prompt reply from Dr. Greenhill, saying she would add it in. Within a few days, Rebecca was indexed as a Bluebeard film.
 
I wouldn't say I am a film buff, but I do watch a lot of movies, and I am obviously a fairy tale fan. So I am excited to start tracking down some of the films indexed on the International Fairy Tale Filmography. I hope other fairy tale fans will be inspired to jump in to explore and contribute ideas, making this terrific resource even bigger and better. Have you visited this website? Join the Enchanted Conversation and tell us what you think. Happy watching!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Grimm Fairy Tales, Restored to Their Formerly Grimmer Glory, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter


In my last article, I talked about how the original Grimm Brothers' fair ytales were a little bit grim, and how they have, over the years, been cleaned up and censored to be more family friendly. Well, if you've forever found that trend disappointing, you'll really enjoy today's story.

Jack Zipes has released The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, and his translation aims to keep the tales as dark, gritty, risqué, and unpolished as they were when Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm compiled them hundreds of years ago.

Jack Zipes is the Professor of German and Comparative Literature at University of Minnesota, and a well-known fairytale scholar. He was able to get his hands on the original, uncensored Grimm publications, and translated them from German himself.

As you may know, The Grimm Brothers had spent much of their early years compiling ancient Germanic folk and fairy tales that had been passed down orally through generations of local families. The brothers recorded the tales just as they'd been told them, and released 2 volumes of Children's and Household Tales between 1812 and 1815.

The volumes didn't sell as well as the brothers had hoped. The main criticism they received was that the tales were not "child-friendly," as the title might suggest. They began to make some revisions, hoping to appeal to the conservative, religious middle-class families of that day and age. Not only did the tales become cleaner and sweeter, but the Brothers also gave them a personal touch, inserting their own voices into the narration.

They cut out the gorier passages in several tales, removing some entirely if there was too much violence overall. Passages that had been sexual in nature were revised to be more innocent and chaste, suggestive only of pure and chivalric romance. In an effort to appear more seemly to the Catholic Church, some elements that had had an air of paganism were removed or reimagined. Also, the Brothers had a strong, spiritual sort of reverence for family, valuing motherhood especially highly in the equation.

In their revisions, wicked mothers were changed into stepmothers--after all, how could a loving mother ever commit an unsavory act against the fruit of her very own loins? When the brothers made the tales their own, mothers came to represent the ultimate good, chaste love was true love, gore was replaced by magic and whimsy--and God reigned on high through it all.

I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a few examples of what the original fairy tales were like. I'll start with “Rapunzel”--in the ancient version, Rapunzel spends many a day alone “making merry” with her friend, the Prince, whilst the Witch is away. When the old hag returns, Rapunzel naively asks why her dress is getting so tight around the middle. The witch is furious that Rapunzel's been unchaste, and banishes her to a desert, where she gives birth to twin boys (and they all survive, which is pretty amazing). In later versions, Rapunzel merely remarks that the Witch is so much heavier to pull up the tower than the Prince is, and there is no mention of twins being born until after the marriage.

There is a surplus of bad mothers to be found in these ancient stories. In the original version of “Hansel and Gretel," the mother of the twins abandons them in the woods because she is too poor to feed them (you can't fault her for being poor, but she might have found a better place to leave them, right?). This sad detail was left out of future versions of the tale. In the ancient version of “Snow White”, the maiden is only seven years old. It is her own mother, not a wicked stepmother, who despises the child’s beauty and plots her death.

“The Children Who Played at Slaughtering” is one story the brothers chose to remove from later publications due to an excess of violence. Trust me, that's no mere exaggeration. This one, short as it is, gets terribly gory... I won't go into detail; if you're interested, head over here: http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/case-studies/113

Lastly, the original version of “Cinderella” has a surprising bit of gore in it as well. When the wicked stepmother sees that her daughter’s feet will never fit into Cinderella’s dainty slipper, she instructs them to cut off their toes with a knife. And they obey. Beauty is pain, right? However, the Prince, seeing all the blood, does not fall for their gruesome trickery.

If you’re interested in a copy of The Original Folk and Fairytales of the Brothers Grimm, follow this link to Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/Original-Fairy-Tales-Brothers-Grimm/dp/0691160597
It might just make the perfect gift for the fairy-tale fanatic in your life. (Or yourself!)

What do you think - Do you like your fairytales neat and clean, or grim and gory? Will you be checking out Jack Zipes translations?

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."

Monday, January 5, 2015

Fairy Tale Book Review: Alex Flinn's Beastly and Bewitching Books, By Brita Long


I first discovered author Alex Flinn five years ago, when I was home for the summer between college graduation and my first job in France. I borrowed her novel Beastly from the library, and I’ve been a fan of her retold fairy tales ever since.

Beastly is a tale as old as time: an arrogant young man pisses of the wrong person, gets turned into a beast, and must find a young woman to love him and break the spell. But instead of the well-known setting of a magical France, Beastly takes place in modern-day New York City.

Kyle has everything: money, good looks, popularity, and a rich, hot, equally-popular girlfriend. But when he chooses to prank an eccentric classmate, she turns him into a hairy beast, claws and all. He has two years to find a girl to love him despite his monstrous appearance—a girl whom he loves in return—or else the curse will be permanent.

At the beginning of the book, I felt like Kyle had it coming. He totally deserved potentially a lifetime of seclusion. But as the story progresses and he matures and gains empathy for others, I couldn’t help becoming more sympathetic to his plight. Beastly is not just a retold fairy tale, but a realistic coming-of-age story (magic aside).

I also loved the supporting characters. Kendra is a fun and quirky witch, serving out her own punishment for youthful transgressions. As Kyle’s blind tutor, Will’s positive influence helps Kyle in his personal growth. In an attempt to avoid spoilers, I won’t name the love interest, but I will say I related to her and her love of both roses and literature.

Aside from well-developed characters, Flinn’s greatest talent is how she blends magic and modernity. For example, throughout the book, Kyle joins a chat room with other victims of transformative spells. The netspeak and confusing conversations accurately portray real chat rooms. These conversations allude to several other fairy tales, including “The Frog Prince” and “The Little Mermaid.”

At my new local library, I discovered Beastly’s companion novel, Bewitching. I loved Kendra in the original, so I was eager to read more about her life. The narrative style of Bewitching differs greatly from that of Beastly. Rather than sticking to a single point-of-view like in Beastly, Bewitching alternates between Kendra’s POV and the POVs of three other retold fairy tale characters. The main story takes place chronologically when Beastly ends, an adapted “Cinderella” from the stepsister’s perspective.

Flinn’s version of “Cinderella” is completely different than any I have read before, and the main characters all demonstrate ambiguous morals.

As a witch, Kendra lives much longer than typical humans, so the book starts with her explanation that the same witch is often involved multiple fairy tales. The POV changes back and forth between Kendra, the “ugly stepsister” Emma, and two other people Kendra tries to help, a French prince and a mermaid. While the retellings of “The Princess and the Pea” and “The Little Mermaid” are brief interludes, I love how Flinn weaves together actual historical stories with Kendra’s magical interventions—the mermaid rescues a passenger from the Titanic.

Have you read any of Alex Flinn’s fairy tales? What do you think of modern fairy tale adaptations? Let me know in the comments!

Brita Long is a francophile feminist living out her own fairy tale with her husband in Ohio. You can find her online at bellebrita.com, where she writes about her faith, books, and her life as a southern belle in the Midwest.
Brita Long

Monday, December 29, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Come Winter, By Ace G. Pilkington, Flash Contest Winner



Editor's note: Here's the winning entry from the Krampus flash contest. You can find the other entries under comments here. Ace's story was lifted out of the other comments, as the winner, but the others are well worth reading! This story won because it was so unexpected but met the contest outlines in a truly inventive way. (If you notice a white outline around the font, it's just Blogger being impossible.) Merry Christmas Day!

As a rule, Krampus was happy. This was schadenfreude; after all, a demon who inflicted pain on bad children at Christmastime was in a fine position for enjoying the pain of others. However, once a year when Krampus ate dinner with Saint Nicholas to discuss their loosely coordinated partnership, he suffered through someone else’s joy. There was no one else on the planet who was as cheerful as Nicholas. His one compensation was that Nicholas hated him too, and by the end of their meeting, he was miserable as well.

Krampus always (deliberately) forgot where they were supposed to meet. Fortunately, he could not only walk and run, he could also fly. Looking down from far up in the sky, he saw a man with a long white beard and a hooded coat. Dropping suddenly to the ground, Krampus said, “So, Nicholas, what kind of food did you bring for us? Remember, I offered to bring along some roasted children, but you turned me down—again. I don’t know how you stay so fat.” Only, the man he was looking at was not fat. He was tall, pale, and powerful, but not fat.

“Disgusting,” the tall man said, “eating humans. You want food? There’s a table.” And indeed there was, made of ice, and translucent in the afternoon sun. A feast materialized as well, as icy as the table itself. “Eat your fill,” said the tall man, “the Tsar of Winter tells you that you may.” Krampus snatched at the food, but his claws bent back where they met the ice, and he screamed and growled in an eerie mixture of the two sounds.

The tall man listened, “What are you, little creature?” Krampus growled again at the adjective “little” and then rushed forward to attack. The tall man wrapped the fingers of his left hand around Krampus’s throat, lifted him off the ground, and said, “What are you?” slapping him with his open right hand after each word.

“Krampus,” he said, lying in the snow, “I am Krampus.

“Ah,” came the reply, “I am the Frost. Or call me Winter or Cold. The humans call me Grandfather Frost when I let them live.”

“You give them gifts,” Krampus said, standing up.

“Sometimes. Life, death, beauty, slow, cold sleep. You and Nicholas with your little Christmas mummery, you pretend to be me, as if a little good and bad, gifts and punishments could touch the nature of Winter.”

The Frost stepped behind Krampus grabbing him around the shoulders with both hands. “This is for calling me Nicholas.” The two of them shot up into the sky and then through the sky into space. Not far away the Moon glittered under dust that was colder than snow. “Tell me, Krampus, how do you like it here? Shall I take you away to my true kingdom in the dark places between the stars? From there, you would look back on this as though it were the land of summer.”

“Let me go,” Krampus pleaded. And, laughing, the Frost dropped him through the dark of space and into the blue scattering of the atmosphere. On reentry, Krampus began to heat up as though he were a spacecraft or a meteor. “Oh” he exclaimed, “I thought I would never be warm again!” He struck the ground with a sound like thunderclaps and lay there luxuriating. “I got away,” he shouted. “I got back. I will never complain about Nicholas again. And when I tell him this story, he won’t complain about me, either.”

It was then that Nicholas appeared. “You’re always late,” he said.












Monday, December 22, 2014

Winner of the Flash Contest Is...

Ace Pilkington, for doing something completely out of this world.

To all others who entered: This was the toughest contest I ever judged. I don't say that because it's Christmas. I say it because it's true.

Ace, you have 72 hours to claim your prize at enchantedconversation@gmail.com.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Krampus and Santa Contest Almost Over

Time is running out for the Krampus and Santa flash writing contest. It ends tomorrow . See post below for details!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Open: Krampus and Santa Flash Writing Contest -- $100 Cash Prize CLOSED


Here's an easy flash writing contest to celebrate the release of Karmpusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus.

Below, in the comments section, write a flash story or vignette or even a poem depicting a dinner between Krampus and Santa (Saint Nicholas). The entry must be no more than 600 words. I'm leaving it to your imagination as to when, where, etc.

All of the the content-related requirements listed here apply. Submissions that do not meet the guidelines will be posted. Do not submit without reading the guidelines. Please do give some kind name associated with you entry (although you may use a pen name). POST THE ENTRY IN COMMENTS. DO NOT SEND IT TO EC'S EMAIL ADDRESS.

The contest starts now and runs until Dec. 20. The winner will be reposted on this site and awarded $100 through Paypal.  I am buying first time electronic rights only. Once the winner is officially posted, anyone who entered, including the winner, is free to sell the work elsewhere in any form. You must have a Paypal address. The winner will be announced by Dec. 24. If the winner does not contact me within 72 hours at enchantedconversation@gmail.com, the next entry in line will become the winner.

There is no entry fee.


Monday, December 1, 2014

The Krampus Ebook Winner Is... Uh Oh

Shari did not claim the prize in time. Hopefully, she will try again in another contest.
Shari! Shari is the winner, having picked 401, which is exactly the number generated by the random number generator. Shari, you have 72 hours to contact me at enchantedconversation@gmail.com.
Thanks to all for playing!