Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Fairytale Reviews, Part 1

It’s difficult not to revisit my childhood with two fairytale remakes released consecutively, Red Riding Hood and Beastly. The predisposed challenge for any remake is to innovate while preserving the core of a well-loved classic. 

I’m not a necromancer of classics such as directors, authors, recording artists and the like, but as a viewer, the core, the essence of a classic is a volatile material to which no definite effective method of tampering can be formulated.

There are those who would only dare to graze its surface by retelling or re-mastering, which could mean the audience applauding out of satisfying nostalgia or groping for the purpose as to why bother remaking if there’s nothing new.

In similar sense, those who are bold and courageous enough to paint over a Mona Lisa may receive the ridicule of purists or praises from nonpurists for such audacity. Either way, attempting a remake means painstakingly trudging on precarious ground.

Though there are numerous titles to discuss, my focus would be Ever After, Red Riding Hood and Beastly. It is inevitable to compare the three yet one should be aware that each film’s premise and execution is sufficiently distinguishable.

Ever After
Ever After is a retelling of the famous Cinderella story. Its storyline is built on what the film claims as the true story behind the well-known bedtime story of rags to riches. The movie was released in 1998 and starred by no less than Drew Barrymore.

It starts with the Grimm brothers, writers of most of the fairytales we grew up with, as royal guests of the Queen of France. With the success of their ‘once-upon-a-times’, the Grimm brothers become privy to the existence of the most indispensable item in the story, the glass slipper, as evidence of the life led by Nicole D’Barbarac, note that the last syllable of her last name is spoken as if there’s a fish bone stuck at the back of your throat—which you should not attempt if you have a sore throat.

The story is set in France during a time of castles, horses, and forced marriage between kingdoms, which is wholly similar with the fairytale’s setting. Such attribute and the removal of a fairy godmother, a fashionable gown with a 12 midnight curfew and a sweet pumpkin ride gives Cinderalla a sense of reality, and more of a historical approach.

Perhaps the more appropriate term to use is ‘substitution’ and not ‘removal’ of various elements which nonchalantly reminds us of Cinderella. For example, the mice friends of Cinderella were servants in the film, the fairy godmother is, surprisingly, the genius Leonardo Da Vinci, and the gown with a curfew is merely a metaphor.

These substitutions are minimal and most of the essentials of Cinderella remain intact and untouched. Which I believe is done on purpose, to leave a message that ‘happily ever after’ is not found in fairytales but drawn from anonymous reality. 

Movie poster from


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