Sunday, April 20, 2014

New "Maleficent" High Res Eye Candy

Not much to say except, this is really a good looking film. And high res shows us a lot of the awesome design details on the fabrics, the accessories and in the background too.

(Although, truth be told, I just can't get completely onboard with these fairies. Why did they proportion/disproportion them like that?)

And I do love those thorny gates... (I wonder what they did with them after filming was complete?)

If you like changing your wallpapers, these will fit the bill! Click on the images to enlarge. (Some of these are HUGE!)

Enjoy! I know I am.
There are these too, although not as high res, they're pretty nice as well:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

BREAKING NEWS: Maleficent Spoiler Thread Discloses Interesting Use of Fairy Tale, Myth & Legend (and, Of Course Spoilery Things) Note: Any spoilers here are hidden

So here's an interesting development.

The IMDB message boards are buzzing today as spoilers are leaked in an effort to put to rest any concerns people might be having about the movie (aka damage control from the giant "investors concerned" headlines that have been prominent the last coupe of weeks), particularly in turning Maleficent into some benign, essentially good person who's misunderstood and killing the reason she's resonated with people for so long.

 While there are a ton of spoilers in the thread there are some very interesting fairy tale, myth and legend notes included as well, which I will get to in a minute. First - where this is coming from.

Here's info about the source:
I happen to work at Disney corporate and have not only been authorized to "leak" this info here to gage audience response, but will be "leaking" even more in the next couple of weeks.  
He's also one of the attorneys on the film. 
Here's the reason Disney authorized an underground "leak":
someone private messaged me to ask why i'm posting this, and i got permission from my supervisor to address it here, in the interest of fairness and disclosure.  
the studio has asked me to do a minor form of damage control and clear up some prevalent misconceptions about the film, on a grass-roots level - "grass-roots" in their opinion meaning the imdb message boards. there have been some very negative outlooks and expectations being spread about the film around the internet - which i really have no problem with - freedom of speech and freedom of expression being in fact my legal speciality - however, my goal here is to create more positive word-of-mouth for a film i think really warrants the exposure and deserves to get a good vibe. 
Here's the IMDB thread link. Please note that THERE ARE A LOT OF SPOILERS in the pages at the IMDB thread! Read at your own discretion. While the entire plot, the twists etc aren't fully revealed, there's a lot more here than you usually see:

Maleficent (2014) : 2 weeks to first dragon reveal! SPOILERS...

Possible spoiler: (Highlight to read below! There are crown images at the head and tail of the possible-spoiler sections)
Yes - they're talking about Maleficent as a dragon. Remember there has been speculation about the one we've seen looking rather avian? Well that's because it is. And that one is NOT the Maleficent dragon. We'll be seeing Maleficent-as-dragon in the last marketing push before the film is released.
IMDB POSTER:When you say "maleficent's dragon" do you mean her dragon form and that she turns into a dragon not just her crow?DISNEY CORPORATE GUY:exactly.this was a fairly recent decision to include the maleficent dragon at the end. investors recently got scared off because the first four drafts only had Diavel transforming into the dragon at the end, and in the latest draft, he even sacrificed his life so that Maleficent could escape at the end...but the investors, from what i've heard, thought that this would be a major let-down for fans hoping to see the big dragon fight at the end, and watching Maleficent become the villain they remembered her to be. So...they tacked on a second ending, and, after Stefan dies, Maleficent now does turn into the giant dragon and fight prince philip, etc. the model of the Maleficent dragon i've seen looks amazing...similar in texture to the Witch-King's dragon-thing in LOTR, but with the features of the classic Maleficent dragon... 

Now, about the fairy tale relevant stuff. It's pretty awesome. (Try not to squee too much.) I really hope this is addressed in the Art of/Making of book when/if (please!) it's released. I'm using excerpts, cobbled together to not give away too much, even if you do highlight and read everything, so if it seems a little disjointed it's because you're missing some of the between conversation. (You can read it all on IDB of course.)

Note: ANY MOVIE SPOILERS WILL BE MASKED so you can choose whether or not to read them.

Woolverton actually admitted recently to using the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen as inspiration, even though the characters are so dramatically different...the story of Stefan and Maleficent was actually inspired by Spenser's The Faerie Queene inasmuch as i have heard at the conference table (specifically Arthur the Golden Knight's pursuit of his would-be lover, the Faerie Queene). Quite a sly, subtly move...considering the Faerie Queene is such an obscure piece of lit...
 also, as far as i know we do NOT see her in the forbidden mountain castle - that part's been rewritten to keep her more of a creature of the woodlands, of the realm of line with Spenser and other myths of course...although i do admit that seeing her in that castle would have been badass!
Maleficent... is still a tragic villain at the end, constantly defeating herself by giving in to aggression and fear and hatred. 
From what i've seen, this has the potential to be quite powerful - it takes the Wicked-type reimagining of a wicked witch to a level Wicked was afraid to go - by choosing to have Maleficent end up AS the villain. 
But after all, isn't one of the main reasons to see a movie like this anyway? The whole point is to see WHY someone went bad, NOT to see that they were really just a nice, peace-loving fairie all along, and misunderstood and given a bad smear campaign after their eventual defeat. 
By the end of the film, we should be rooting for Maleficent to walk away from it all, and keep peace in the land, but alas, she chooses poorly. And becomes the physical manifestation of the thing she most truly hates. 

Iron is deadly to Maleficent and her people, but of the human inhabitants only Stefan really knows that...the faeries do too, and use this to their advantage..when they feel they have no other alternative.
Now you know the classic animated ending and there has been worry/concern/speculation about how true this reinvention is going to be. I think people who read a lot of fairy tales and understand myth will be pleased with the final direction they took - though it was apparently difficult to choose. The reasons and pop culture influences on why are below (and they might surprise you) and they hint at an interesting new direction for Disney storytelling (at least in their films):
as far as i know -- they restructured the story to make it much more non-linear - now, rather than appearing about half-way into the film, the christening scene pretty much opens the film...we are introduced to Maleficent as she is presented in Sleeping Beauty, and then go back in time to learn, as Paul Harvey would say it..."The Rest of the Story." 
i'll admit, it is a risky move for the studio to kill her off at the end...but hopefully it will now come off more as a shakespearean tragedy to some degree...her death, while sad, is portrayed as justified...and brought about by her own lack of self-regulation... 
the studio and investors were torn between having a Wicked-ish "happier" ending and a darker one where the protagonist really does turn into the villain and even dies at the end. 
I'll tell you what made the difference - and very ironic, in one sense - the ending of AMC's Breaking Bad and the amazing popularity of that show. 
Before that, the prevailing attitude among studio heads and investors had been that audiences wouldn't really be that interested in seeing a character turn completely evil without some sort of redemption at the end. After Breaking Bad all that changed, and now Disney is trusting (fingers crossed!) that families and mainly kids, will be intrigued, entertained, and not turned off by such an ending. Plus, Disney also doesn't have to deal with the problem of ret-conning the original film at all - the original film, now, can be viewed as a fairly truthful film, but a propaganda piece made by the winners to villainize Maleficent. 
Trust me, it's a much more powerful film now than it was shaping up to be before. 
But thanks to Breaking Bad, and the incredible viewer response, Disney's decided to move the film into more risky territory and hope they get lucky in doing so. 
I think they will :)
So there you have it - along with a lot more, if you'd like to read it HERE.

Personally, I'm in the yay category on this news. It's much more in line with true fairy tale sensibilities and more in line with the messages I want my son to be exposed to. People get hurt, make bad choices and there are repercussions. While there are Disney movies that say this, the endings tend to water down the message drastically. I like the risk they're taking on this one!

If Merida Came To Storybrooke...

Modern Merida - Amy Pond (Doctor Who) style - OUAT Fan Art by John Raptor
... what would she be like?

It's so very, very unlikely but wouldn't it be interesting to see Merida grown-up and still rebellious, becoming Janet from Tam Lin in Storybrooke? Perhaps even getting pregnant (or related metaphor) and saving her own-chosen true love from a fate worse than death (ie fairies)?

And think of the potential for magic effects and costume possibilities (because we all know these are important considerations): fairies, an enchanted midnight parade, Celtic influence and superstitions, Tam Lin metamorphosing from one being to another in Janet/Merida's arms (you'd have to include a bear in the middle there of course). There's so much to play with and best of all it works with either world because it's such a human story yet has an actual, very annoyed, Faerie Queen.

Although Brave is mother-daughter focused, the themes of the story are in many ways very similar to those of Tam Lin.

Merida has to hold on with everything she's got, and she has to see her mother inside the bear, with her heart, to break the spell. (Heck there's even a conveniently placed water well for Merida/Janet to douse a flaming sword in!)

Merida goes about her rebellion and her drive to break the spell very similarly to Janet as well. From the cockiness and headstrong actions of a strong-willed fiery red head coming into - and expressing - her adulthood, to how much she would risk, to how deep her bravery really goes and in the deepness in her love/bond.

Also, if Merida were a Janet-character, you could even substitute her mother for the figure of Janet's father, since their view on responsibilities and lineage etc are very similar.

I hadn't thought about it so much before but perhaps that's one of the big reasons I've grown to love Merida so much. She's like a slightly-younger Janet. With serious archery skills.

By the way - there are more Merida channeling Darryl Dixon pics (from The Walking Dead) by cosplayer Zoisite-Virupaksha HERE. It works ridiculously well. Between discovering a Merida/Tam Lin/Doctor Who cross-over potential and Merida being ready for the zombie apocalypse, (this modern Merida HERE by an unknown artist, is pretty great too), I'm on the verge of petitioning OUAT creators Kitsis & Horowitz to just go there already!

(And now I need someone to do some Merida as Tam Lin fan art to make my day...)
Merida cosplay by Hidden Writer Spirit

OUAT Execs Confirm Anna and Elsa Are (Almost Certainly) Heading for Storybrooke (& Possibly Merida Too)

It was inevitable, really, and will make so very many OUAT fans ecstatic. What I'm wondering is whether they're going to try and squeeze the princess sisters in before the end of the season or not.
It's already very much Oz and Zelena focused and is benefiting overall as a result, plus we have other B and C (and D) plots doing a decent job of fleshing it out. To add a major set of characters, who fans will clamor to see more than one appearance of, would feel rushed and ridiculously busy. My guess is we might get a teaser at the end of this season of Frozen/Snow Queen things to come, with the next season being largely focused on some sort of plot twist revolving around the sisters.
Because all the characters on OUAT have a darker or more tragic side to them, I'm curious to see if they get into Elsa's conflict more and make her more... "Snow Queen-y".

Here's the report:
The hint came from "Once Upon a Time" producers Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz who told E! News that talks were underway to bring the "Frozen" characters to the showKristen Bell, who voiced Princess Anna in the movie, was invited to guest star. 
Kitsis said the series' crew were obsessed with "Frozen", which has smashed box office records and topped billboard charts with its soundtracks. He said they "would be completely honored if Kristen Bell or Idina Menzel wanted to do our show." 
E! News reached out to Bell to hear her response. "That would be unbelievable," she said. "I love that character of Anna so much. She is so exactly who I wanted to see when I was five years old, so she's really close to my heart." (Aceshowbiz)
And what about Merida? There hasn't been any further talk of her since the initial chat at D23 which went something like this (from E1!):
Creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis recently told D23 that they would "love" to feature some of the most recent Disney princesses on the series... 
"Obviously we'd be dying to do Frozen," Kitsis gushed. "We would love to [incorporate] Merida." In a world that is filled with some of the most iconic fairy-tale characters of all time, we think that there's plenty of room in Stroybrooke for some fresh faces." Horowitz agreed, saying, "Whether we get to them or not, characters like Anna, Elsa and Merida feel like they could be slotted in."
From this brief set of statements it looks like an episodic, one-off appearance by Merida is likely at some point (though, depending on fan response and the twist they give her, what with Robin Hood and the Merry Men all currently in a row, there's a chance she might be irregularly recurring), while Anna and Elsa appear to be in for an multi-episode arc. It really depends on how far Disney will let them push the characters and the sorts of twists/dark sides they come up with so really anything is possible. It does sound that they have kernels of plot ideas at the very least though.

Want to discuss? We have a forum now! Check the tabs at the top of the page for the OUAT Forum. Anyone can comment or start a topic! (I believe you can comment as a guest without registering we well, though I'm not completely certain of that.)

(Look for a brief post after this of a fairy tale parallel I think would work well with Merida in the OUAT universe...)

"Maleficent": Reinventing the Tale - Featurette #1...

... I'm hoping of many.

By the way - don't you just love all the spinning wheels emphasized in this mini-poster?

I want to hear all I can about the behind the scenes process of bringing this fairy tale to life on screen and the considerations they took regarding the characters of Aurora (as it's based directly on the Disney animated classic), Maleficent and the fairy tale overall.

In this featurette , which is titled "Reinventing the Tale", Angelina Jolie talks briefly about finding a new way to look at the story of Sleeping Beauty and of how, while it's faithful to the source, showing all those scenes we really want to see, while at the same time bringing us something we never would have imagined as part of the tale and world before. Screenwriter Linda Woolverton (who is possibly the most prolific woman writer of fairy tales for the bi screen today) explains how it's not actually a retelling of the fairy tale but rather a reinvention and tells us a little of how she approached the writing.

Note: it seems unlikely, but I have to wonder if Ms. Woolverton looked at other versions of Sleeping Beauty that gave the 13th/uninvited fairy more of a character than most retellings have; like Carabosse in the Sleeping Beauty ballet. (Contemporary ballet choreographer, Matthew Bourne's Carabosse is fascinating!)

Take a look (you can see a high res version at this link HERE):

Here's the latest synopsis which has changed slightly again to reflect more of the reveals they've been showing (words in bold are my emphasis):
“Maleficent” explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic “Sleeping Beauty” and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.

El Capitan Theater in LA is holding a special preview with a whole heap of extras to add to the entire movie going experience as well (honestly - these El Capitan special previews are amazing and unforgettable. To attend one for a fairy tale movie is on my bucket list...)
Hollywood's legendary El Capitan Theatre presents a special engagement of Disney's "Maleficent" in Dolby Atmos May 29 - July 17, 2014. Internationally acclaimed magician Greg Wilson will present an all-new magic show before every screening of the movie through July 6. Plus, El Capitan guests will have the chance to see an exclusive collection of props from the movie, including Aurora's bedroom, Maleficent's gown and horns and the model of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland during the entire El Capitan engagement.
By the way - the horns, which were one of the props I got to see last week, were much smaller than I expected! Perhaps the cowl gives the effect that they're larger than they are. Interesting.

"The El Capitan will kick off our special engagement of Disney's 'Maleficent' in royal fashion," said Lylle Breier, senior vice president of worldwide special events for WaltDisney Studios Motion Pictures. "El Capitan Theatre guests will have the opportunity to see the movie in advance of its national opening with two special screenings on May 29 at 8 p.m. and Midnight. Both of these screenings will also feature raffle prizes and costume contests, adding to the excitement of this long anticipated film."
You can find out about tickets and more HERE.

Sources: HERE & HERE

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, Thank You For The Wonder. Rest In Peace.

Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez
March 6, 1927 - April 17, 2014
Often called the father of magical realism, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's work is beloved all over the world. His stories are everyday tales of ordinary people, with shadows of the impossible appearing everywhere around them, just as they do any other ordinary day. He credited his grandmother with influencing his writing and view of the everyday with her oral tales and the way she, as he put it, “treated the extraordinary as something perfectly natural.” He readily acknowledged her influence on him and his most famous books certainly reflect that style. In this way his stories share much with fairy tales and it's because of his writing that I've seen people come to respect fairy tales more as well. 

He sadly passed away after a long illness on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at the age of 87 and, as I write, right now, I am seeing responses and touching tributes from all over the globe flood the web, mourning the loss of our "conjuror of literary magic". (You can read the Wikipedia entry for a life, works and awards overview HERE.)

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings is the title of one of Señor Garcia Marquez's short stories and the images he created within his pages are certainly close to us today. 
by MauroIllustrator
Written by the great Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1955, “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings” is one of his most beloved and anthologized stories. The short story is an example of magical realism, a narrative in which characters and setting are “real world” but which also includes a convincing and straightforward element of magic. The reader must agree to temporarily suspend disbelief in order to understand and appreciate the story. Marquez is often cited as the father of this literary technique. (Source)
Mr. García Márquez was a master of the literary genre known as magical realism, in which the miraculous and the real converge. In his novels and stories, storms rage for years, flowers drift from the skies, tyrants survive for centuries, priests levitate and corpses fail to decompose. And, more plausibly, lovers rekindle their passion after a half-century apart. (NYTimes)
You will no doubt see a myriad of articles, special presentations and much more over the next few days and weeks. Take advantage and watch and read... If you don't know his work I suggest you find out. There's a good chance if you love fairy tales that his work will speak to you too. 

To start, there's a great overview of his life, love, work and writing HERE at the NYTimes, from which the above is excerpted and the BBC has a special slideshow 'His Life In Pictures' HERE

Closer to our hearts here in the fairy tale community is information in the entry from the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales G-Z, edited by Donald Haase:

If you know and love Garcia Marquez's work, now is a great time to celebrate having lived during his era and to recall favorite stories, phrases and images and perhaps discover some more.
Dear Gabo,
Thank you for all the wonder. Rest now.
We won't forget.
The World & Me

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"The Tale of the Three Brothers" Live Action Film (Made with Rowling & WB's Blessing)

Do you remember the Harry Potter fairy tale , "The Three Brothers" from "The Tales of Beedle the Bard", which was animated to wonderful effect in the final movie?

There's going to be a live version.
And it's (essentially) an indie film.
Made by college students.
Who got the permission of J.K. Rowling AND Warner Bros to do it.
The Tale of the Three Brothers serves as a pivotal plot device in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the series’s final installment. In the Harry Potter world, the fable-style story is told to wizard children, but most adults believe it to be nothing more than a legend. Over the course of the final book, it becomes apparent that several parts of the story are true.
The film will screen in May at Husson University, which is also in Bangor (Maine). It’s not clear whether it will be made available online at a later date.
I am just going to stand and applaud them for their tenacity, audacity and sheer luck in making this happen. *applauds*

I'm not saying they didn't work hard or aren't talented because clearly this college filmmaking group are both. But that's only half the battle when you're working in Entertainment. The rest is who you know and luck of timing/the draw.

Lisa Stock of InBytheEye, who sought and was given permission by Neil Gaiman to stage his short story "Snow, Glass, Apples" had her own success with this bold approach too, but she will tell you: it didn't come without a LOT of hard work on the foundations first!

In this new case, because it's film, we are likely (we hope) to be the witnesses/recipients of their hard work but I wanted to take a post to acknowledge the fact that some students felt strongly enough about an olde-worlde-type fairy tale, to bring it to the screen in moodily shot live-action. Most Harry Potter fans would be focused on the (myriad) other aspects to create from and although the id most definitely nothing wrong with those leanings, particular fairy tales aren't usually the focused of the HP obsessed and I'm glad to see the deeper callings of fairy tale-type stories stirring the creative drive of tomorrow's filmmakers.

Here's the trailer:

And here's the animation from the Harry Potter film:
I love hearing about things like this. It warms my heart to know there are famous people out there who aren't threatened by anther creative team adapting material that originated with them and more, actively encourages and supports the sincere and talented efforts of deserving people.

Hopefully we have a lot to look forward to from the people involved with this project.

If I find news of an online release for the live action The Tale of the Three Brothers, I will, of course, share it with you.

Sources: HERE & HERE

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ask Baba Yaga: I Know I'm Lashing Out and I Can't Stop, It Feels Too Good

Baba Yaga by Allen Douglas
Do you know of poison gardens? The ones which give warnings in large, large letters at the gate that the plants within have the power to kill you? Some people need that warning. But what do you do if you suspect you're turning into one of these poisonous people?

This week's question and answer (via poet and oracle Taisia Kitaiskaia* of The Hairpin):
(Originally posted at The Hairpin HERE)

Ouch. Sounds like someone has a festering internal blight that needs some healing stat. Hopefully the Baba made how to stop the "fiending" (love that word!) clear... No quick fixes here though. 

Wow, I really feel for that person. Hopefully the Baba's words in their "sense of non" make it past consciousness to the inner place it's needed and help this person with their soul-scaping...

Heavy stuff. I think I need a cup of tea.

What do you think of Baba Yaga's advice?

Want to ask Baba Yaga a question of your own?
You can!
There's now an email address where you can send your questions
directly to Baba Yaga herself.
AskBabaYaga AT gmail DOT com
To encourage Baba Yaga to continue imparting her no-bones-about-it wisdom (ok, there may be some gristle in there... bones too), I suggest we not to leave her box empty... 

Thank you Baba Yaga (& Taisia).

Taisia Kitaiskaia is a poet, writer, and Michener Center for Writers fellow. Born in Russia and raised in America, she's had her poems and translations published in Narrative Magazine, Poetry International, and others.
** Actually, it's only gotten worse as I've gotten older. Baba's right - wonder is always mixed with fear. It doesn't have to be fear of the 'thing', it can just be fear of yourself (and I have plenty of that). It's one of the reasons I'm not so averse to this " dark fairy tales" trend, or of delving into the shadier sides of the stories. When you've been surrounded for a long time (as we have) by bubblegum and glitter tales, they lose their strength and ability to bite when you need them to. I like my stories to be strong and my fairy tales to have teeth...

How Frozen Should Have Ended. Or, Perhaps, Started... (A lighter post now we're past Tax Day in the US!)

Well this would have made for a very different movie! One of the issues I have with Frozen is that I had the exact reaction of the old troll did when I realized what happened after the 'save Anna' visit.

(Note: please remember, this is done in good humor, not in the spirit of bashing the creators. I only say this because the YouTube comments.. yikes! Different sorts of trolls there it seems.)

The Snow Queen comes into her own!

Oh, and by the way, why has no one talked about how Marshmallow is Disney's newest princess?! I thought people would be all over that (in a good way). 

If you don't know what I mean, check it out:

Let the fan fiction begin...

PS: If you need a Fairy tale justification for this post, here's a question: 
How do Disney parents compare with the older fairy tale parents in general? 
(Anyone who answers on their own blog is welcome to send me a link,
and I'll repost it on OUABlog with full credit to you and linkage to your site,
so everyone can discover your Awesome.