Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Article Catch-Up: More on Modern Snow Whites, Fairy Tales on TV, Arabian Nights and Pullman's Grimm Retellings

As always, I have a list of posts I haven't managed to get to and since a few of these were going to comment on articles I thought I'd list them with links and teaser excerpts so you don't miss them:

Q&A With ‘Once Upon a Time’ Showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Spoilers)

How has Once Upon a Time evolved? Has it gone the way you always envisioned or become something you didn’t originally think it would?Edward Kitsis: Our dream was to tell certain stories like, why Grumpy became grumpy. Why does the Evil Queen hate Snow White? Tonight it’s why the Mad Hatter is mad. What’s great is through those shows you get to know everyone...
Other things revealed in the recent Wondercon panel:• With no word on renewal, both remain hopeful but do have an idea of how the story will end. They’ve given themselves the flexibility and freedom to manage that ending given their cloudy future, but don’t want to commit to something specific in the event that they change their minds as the series evolves. 
They do mention some spoilery things including fairy tale characters we'll be seeing before the end of season 1 - so skip it if you want to be surprised. The whole article is HERE.
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Linked to from fairy tale blog The Dark Forest, this article gives a little history of Snow White tale variations, especially quoting Ruth Bottigheimer. All current film versions of Snow White are discussed (ABC's Once Upon A Time, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman) and the differences in character are compared to the tale variations (and to Disney's version too).

“Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders takes the princess-as-rescuer theme further, making Stewart’s Snow White into a literal warrior. But he insists he’s not trying to fashion her into a kind of superhero.“She wears a suit of armor, but she’s not suddenly Bruce Lee’s adopted sister,” he told IFC.com. “She is wearing armor for protection and she has to kill a queen. It’s very instinctual, it’s defensive. She knows she has to kill someone, and that sword lies very uneasy in her hand.”

The article finishes by discussing the tale itself, as opposed to the current pop culture versions:

“The classic Snow White story has lots of appeal,” says Haase. “It includes some very vivid characters and motifs — like the magic mirror, the poison apple and the dwarfs — and it deals with some intense emotions and drama, like the mother-daughter relationship, jealousy, murder and rebirth.”Plus, says Silverstein, “Snow White is the perfect fairy tale. You’ve got the good girl, the pure Snow White, and the bad girl, the Evil Queen. Which is pretty much the box that all women get put into.”

The whole three page article is HERE and Dark Forest's excellent post questioning aspects of it is HERE. Note: The article mentions Disney has axed the live action version of Snow White, by which I presume they mean Order of Seven. I have yet to find confirmation of this, especially since recent activity (reported around Feb 10) on the project would suggest a ramping up, not an abandonment.

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Discussing the compelling evil of the Wicked Queen in Snow White:

That kind of evil is not easily forgotten. The queen in Disney's 1937 animated "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" has become an icon of wickedness.
On American Film Institute's list of the top 50 villains and 50 heroes, the queen of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" ranks as the No. 10 villain (Dr. Hannibal Lecter/"The Silence of the Lambs" is No. 1). 

Professor Zipes is quoted and the complexity of the queen's character is discussed and is contrasted with the newer, more heroic, warrior woman, versions of Snow White coming to us in film this year, bringing us back around to the question: In a real showdown between the two, who would really win? Snow White or the Evil Queen and why?

The queen is more complex, Zipes notes. "We really don't know too much about her - where she gets her powers. She's mysterious."The aging beauty also knows deep down that she will be replaced by a younger woman. "That is still today for a lot of women a great concern," said Zipes, University of Minnesotaprofessor emeritus.

Not to be missed, a side bar lists some interesting Wicked Queen facts:

Mirror doesn't lie
In "Annie Hall" (1977), Alvy (Woody Allen) says that when he saw Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," he was attracted to the Evil Queen. Here are seven more queens Alvy may find entrancing:
Arpazia: The evil queen gets a back story in Tanith Lee's novel "White as Snow" (Tor Books, $16.99).
Queen of Fables: A Justice League villain decides Wonder Woman resembles Snow White in the DC Comics series.
Evil Queen: The queen (Diana Rigg) plots to kill Snow White in the 1987 musical.
Queen Elspeth: Miranda Richardson plays the insecure queen in "Snow White: The Fairest of Them All" (2001).
Claudia Hoffman: Sigourney Weaver plays the stepmother in "Snow White: A Tale of Terror" (1997).
Evil Queen: Olivia Wilde poses as the queen in photographer Annie Liebovitz's image for the Disney Dream Portrait Series. Alec Baldwin is the face of the mirror.
The Queen: She tells a different version of her encounter with Snow White in Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow, Glass, Apples."

You can read this whole article HERE.

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Now that NBC's Grimm has debuted in the UK there are quite a few articles introducing the series and talking about the premise. This article has a couple of extra tidbits:

“Fairy tales in general are just kind of great ideas to do for a show because one of the things that is very common among fairy tales is, I feel, there’s a very innate psychological need for a safe haven that’s like inherent in all humans. So, in a lot of fairy tales, you have this protagonist who’s fighting to return home or something. I think that’s a great format for each episode as you have this sort of quest of sorts.“In our world, a fairy tale often has a lesson attached to it – whether it’s a warning or as a tale of hope. At the very last layer of that message is a problem, usually revolving around a family.

...Tulloch started poring over these tales and legends after getting the part in the show, although she is the most normal person in it. Answering a question about which of the stories is her favourite, she pickedCinderella. and it’s a story she hopes that will be explored in an episode of the series.She explained: “That story is rather gruesome; the sisters end up having their eyes pecked out by crows. So, I think that one would be really cool. The Frog Prince would be kind of cool to do, I think.“One of the most interesting things I came across when I was doing research was ­ – and now I’m like completely outing myself as a little bit of a nerd – but I was reading PhD paper that I found online that deducted that (The Grimm Brothers) weren’t writers, but were sort of cultural researchers and kind of forefathers of forensic psychology, which I thought was really an interesting way to look at it instead of being profilers.“And that’s kind of what Nick has, this innate ability to profile people.”
If you remember the "sexy-dead" promos for Grimm before the series started in the US (that's another post I never finished!), you'll remember there was in fact a Cinderella like character and one that alluded to a frog prince gone horribly wrong (as per the image shown above) so she may get her wish. You can read the whole article HERE.

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Discussing the latest book by fairy tale scholar Marina Warner, this article has me intrigued. I really hope I get to read this book, and soon.

The format (book-about-a-book) fits especially well for trying to pick the locks of Arabian Nights, itself a collection of boxes within boxes of twice- or thrice-told tales.Warner helpfully intersperses 15 paraphrased versions of the jump-the-shark stories Shahrazad interrupted each dawn so that her plot-driven husband would keep her alive to finish the next night, his moment of satisfaction infinitely receding: “The City of Brass,” “The Prince of the Black Islands.” She astonishes with the granularity of her accounts of the impact of these stories on their original European readers: inspired by the Arabian literature craze, as well as by the Persian poets Hafiz and Rumi, Goethe took to wearing a caftan and turban, known as “turning Turk” in the 18th century, while writing his West-Eastern Divan. Much of the narrative machinery of the original tales, such as Solomon’s flying carpet on which entire armies could be transported, both predicted and were then perfected in silent movies, especially the Hollywood “Easterns,” often prequels and sequels to Arabian Nights, beginning with Douglas Fairbanks’s lavish The Thief of Bagdad (1924), as well as musical theater and Walt Disney animation.
...(Warner) hangs her (our?) hopes on the circular ways that our heroine, not a warrior like Achilles, but a wily storyteller, speaks both truth and imagination to power: “to give the princes and sultans of this world pause. This was—and is—Shahrazad’s way.”

You can read the whole review HERE.

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And finally a few articles discussing Philip Pullman's soon-to-be-released (in September) retellings of 50 of Grimm's tales in honor of the 200th anniversary of Household Tales:


From The Independent: The Blagger's Guide To ... Grimms' fairy tales - Scaring children everywhere for 200 years

Pullman has long counted himself as a fan of the stories, and has been working on his own versions for some time. Last year, he told the fansite bridgetothestars.net: "This isn't a book for children only. I'm telling the best of the tales in my own voice, and I'm finding it a great purifier of narrative thinking, rather as a pianist relishes playing Bach's preludes and fugues as a sort of palate-cleansing discipline."
Pullman's collection will include many of the best-known fairy tales – "Rapunzel", "Snow White", "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood" – as well as other, lesser-known works. His favourite, he says, is "The Juniper Tree" – a sordid tale of an evil stepmother who murders her stepson and makes him into blood puddings. He has also included "The Three Snake Leaves", "Hans My Hedgehog" and "Godfather Death".
(Pullma) is retelling them in "clear as water" new versions, complete with commentary on each story's history and background.

From Huffington Post UK: Philip Pullman's Fairytales To Launch in September
The Grimms' tales aren't known for their child-friendly nature - in which evil sisters lose their toes, evil stepmothers dance to death in red-hot iron shoes and evil, well, anything, come to a sticky end - but we're not expecting Pullman to sweeten any pills either. After all, scalping, poison and soul-severing all featured heavily in His Dark Materials. No doubt come September we'll be reading it with the lights on.
 And while we're on the subject here's a note from Pullman from his website:



Books with pictures and fairy tales

I love looking at good illustrations. The best of them are not only a pleasure for the eye, but a real addition to the text. I've had the privilege of working with some wonderful illustrators, and I hope to write many more texts for illustration in the future. Actually, I've got a not-very-secret ambition: I want to write and illustrate a picture book all by myself. But I'll have to do a lot of practice, and even then I won't ever come near the skill of a Peter Bailey or an Ian Beck or a John Lawrence – to name some of my favourite illustrators.However, the next best thing is to enjoy their pictures alongside my words. And that'll have to do, for now.
There's been no mention of illustrations in this new collection of retold Grimm's tales from Pullman but considering books like Clockwork, Or All Wound Up (one of my favorites!) I would hope we're in for some new illustrative treats as well.

3 comments:

  1. Excellent article and great information.

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  2. Actresses who have portrayed Snow White's evil stepmother,the evil queen:
    Lana Parrilla in the television series Once Upon a Time(2011).
    Charlize Theron in the film Snow White and the Huntsman(2012).
    Julia Roberts in the film Mirror Mirror(2012).
    Diana Rigg in the Cannon Movie Tales's film Snow White(1987).
    Vanessa Redgrave in the Faerie Tale Theatre's film Snow White and the seven dwarfs(1984).
    Sigourney Weaver in the 1997 television film Snow White:A Tale of Terror(1997).
    Miranda Richardson in the 2001 television film Snow White:The Fairest of Them All(2001).

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