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the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), and sometimes, if the film is old enough to be in the public domain and has been archived, there is even a link to watch it online!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!


  1. Thanks for researching this, Lissa! It sounds like an excellent resource. I have a feeling that once I start using it, I will be engrossed for hours...

  2. Hmmm, apparently I have a penchant for Bluebeard-inspired films - I had never made the connection with Hitchcock's Rebecca, et. al.! This is an awesome resource - thanks for alerting us, Lissa!