Sunday, July 22, 2012

Movie: The Brick House

Flavorwire, wonderful site that it is, brought my attention to a Kickstarter-funded movie called The Brick House. Here is the trailer:

I have to say I loved this. And yes, folks, it is real. It is not simply a spoof trailer. It will be a spoof movie. I have no idea if they will be able to carry the joke throughout the entire movie, but I hope so! (I agree with Flavorwire that the prosthetics are a bit much. It would have been interesting to see it straight.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Article: No Happily Ever After

SciFi and Fantasy Art The Death of Little Hen by Ross Sullivan-Wiley

Hey everyone! Just to make everyone sadder on this rainy Friday, I thought I'd dispell with the myth that all fairy tales have a happy ending. Tales of Fairie brought to my attention this gutwrenching one that sounds like it could have come out of a newspaper today, "The Children Living in a Time of Famine:"
"There once lived a woman who fell into such deep poverty with her two daughters that they didn't even have a crust of bread to put in their mouths. Finally they were so famished that the mother was beside herself with despair and said to the older child: "I will have to kill you so that I'll have something to eat."
The daughter replied, "Oh no, dearest mother, spare me. I'll go out and see to it that I can get something to eat without having to beg for it."
And so she went out, returned, and brought with her a small piece of bread that they all ate, but it did little to ease the pangs of hunger.
And so the mother said to her other daughter, "Now it's your turn."
But she replied, "Oh no, dearest mother, spare me. I'll go out and get something to eat without anyone noticing it."
And so she went out, returned, and brought with her two small pieces of bread. They all ate them, but it was too little to ease their pangs of hunger. After a few hours, the mother said to them once again: "You will have to die, otherwise we'll all perish."
The girls replied, "Dearest mother, we'll lie down and go to sleep, and we won't rise again until the day of judgement." And so they lay down and slept so soundly that no one could awaken them. The mother left, and not a soul knows where she is."

Here is a rather famous one: "How Some Children Played at Slaughtering:"

"There once was a father who slaughtered a pig, and his children saw that. In the afternoon, when they began playing, one child said to the other, "you be the little pig, and I'll be the butcher." He then took a shiny knife and slit his little brother's throat.

Their mother was upstairs in a room bathing another child, and when she heard the cries of her son, she immediately ran downstairs. Upon seeing what had happened, she took the knife out of her son's throat and was so enraged that she stabbed the heart of the other boy, who had been playing the butcher. Then she quickly ran back to the room to tend to her child in the bathtub, but while she was gone, he had drowned in the tub. Now the woman became so frightened and desperate that she did not allow the neighbors to comfort her and finally hung herself. When her husband came back from the fields and saw everything, he became so despondent that he died soon after."
This is one I knew about for a long time, and it is so depressing that it is almost funny, "The Death of the Little Red Hen:"
"One time the little hen and the little rooster went to Nut Mountain, and they agreed that whoever would find a nut would share it with the other one. Now the little hen found a large, large nut, but -- wanting to eat the kernal by herself -- she said nothing about it. However, the kernal was so thick that she could not swallow it down. It got stuck in her throat, and fearing that she would choke to death, she cried out, "Little Rooster, I beg you to run as fast as you can to the well and get me some water, or else I'll choke to death."
The little rooster ran to the well as fast as he could, and said, "Well, give me some water, for the little hen is lying on Nut Mountain. She swallowed a large nut kernal and is about to choke to death on it."
The well answered, "First run to the bride, and get some red silk from her."
The little rooster ran to the bride: "Bride, give me some red silk, and I'll give the red silk to the well, and the well will give me some water, and I'll take the water to the little hen who is lying on Nut Mountain. She swallowed a large nut kernal and is about to choke to death on it."
The bride answered, "First run and get my wreath. It got caught on a willow branch."
So the little rooster ran to the willow and pulled the wreath from its branch and took it to the bride, and the bride gave him some red silk, which he took to the well, which gave him some water, and the little rooster took the water to the little hen, but when he arrived, she had already choked to death, and she lay there dead, and did not move at all.
The little rooster was so sad that he cried aloud, and all the animals came to mourn for the little hen. Six mice built a small carriage which was to carry the little hen to her grave. When the carriage was finished, they hitched themselves to it, and the little rooster drove. On the way they met the fox.
"Where are you going, little rooster?"
"I'm going to bury my little hen."
"May I ride along?"
"Yes, but you must sit at the rear, because my little horses don't like you too close to the front."
So he sat at the rear, and then the wolf, the bear, the elk, the lion, and all the animals in the forest. They rode on until they came to a brook. "How can we get across?" said the little rooster.
A straw was lying there next to the brook, and he said, "I'll lay myself across, and you can drive over me." But just as the six mice got onto the straw, it slipped into the water, and the six mice all fell in and drowned.
They did not know what to do, until a coal came and said, "I am large enough. I will lay myself across and you can drive over me." So the coal laid itself across the water, but unfortunately it touched the water, hissed, and went out; and it was dead.
A stone saw this happen, and wanting to help the little rooster, it laid itself across the water. The little rooster pulled the carriage himself. He nearly reached the other side with the dead little hen, but there were too many others seated on the back of the carriage, and the carriage rolled back, and they all fell into the water and drowned.
Now the little rooster was all alone with the dead little hen. He dug a grave for her and laid her inside. Then he made a mound on top, and sat on it, and grieved there so long that he too died. And then everyone was dead."
I think the last line is what makes me sad, and then giggle a little at the same time. "And then everyone was dead. The end." It sounds a little like a story a kid would tell (or someone fed up with bureaucracy). Children looooove morbidity. So, to cheer you all up after that extremely depressing post, I will leave you with this:

It makes you wonder if the Grimm brothers sometimes asked kids to tell them a story, because some of the fairy tales make as much sense as Scary Smash. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

TV: Recap of Once Upon a Time at SDCC!

So SurLaLune Fairy Tales did the most amazing job recapping Once Upon a Time's reveals, teaser videos  and panels at San Diego Comic Con! See it here!

Lots of exciting news! I am really looking forward to how they combine the fairy tale world and the real world, and from the look of the videos, some of the characters will take back their fairy tale identity with a vengeance.   And we will finally learn the identity of Doctor Whale. And it BETTER BE GOOD. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Music Videos: "Why Are Music Videos so Obsessed with Fairy Tales?"

Flavorwire has again brought us a fantastic array of fairy tale music videos, complete with a sharp analysis of why fairy tale imagery is so prevalent in the music video format.
Once upon a time, pop stars used to be just like us. But then at some point — probably during their impressionable youth, while the rest of us were stuck in SAT prep classes — they were whisked away to an enchanted world of pop superstardom. It was the promised land of excess and beauty, where everything is magical all of the time. Louboutin heels served as glass slippers; award ceremony afterparties as fancy balls; black limousines as horse-drawn pumpkin carriages; and hunky A-listers as Prince Charmings. Yet it’s an open secret that when most of these pretty young things got sucked into the vortex of pop, they also found themselves having to grow up overnight. While they shirked the banalities of roommates bugging them about the ConEd bill, pop stars found themselves entangled with the messier parts of becoming an adult too soon: contracts, scores of people relying on them to make piles of money, and grueling hours that most of us probably only begin to reckon with as adults.
So it makes a lot of sense that some of the biggest stars in pop have, at one time or another, have employed fairy tale motifs in their music videos — what other trope could so evocatively represent the difference between who they used to be and who they are now? In addition to providing a venue to meditate about who they have become, these children’s stories allow pop stars to reconnect with that younger, perhaps forsaken version of themselves. Perhaps that explains why the fairy-tale music video trend pervades popular music across cultural, geographical, and musical divides. After the jump, we explore some rock and pop stars’ kitschiest fairy tale fantasies — many of which harbor curiously dark messages about coming of age.
 I think my favorite of the group would have to be Katy Perry's video of "Wide Awake." While it is not one of my favorite songs of hers, the storytelling is really captivating and relatable:

Flavorwire says: 
Katy Perry is just the latest pop star to cash in on tropes inspired by The Wizard of Oz and Alice In Wonderland. In the video for “Wide Awake,” Perry ends up tapping into her inner child during a weaker moment in her adult life. It’s a theme that finds her character navigating a hedge maze with this young girl, who ends up clearing some major obstacles for her — like slaying a couple minotaurs — and giving her the strength to punch out Prince Charming, an obvious reference to her split with Russell Brand. Ultimately, the singer and her inner child part ways and there is the grand a-ha! moment that finds Perry is in her dressing room, buoyed by this ability to connect to a more fearless version of herself.

I don't know about you, but this is what I use fantasy for: to tap into the little girl who killed monsters in her backyard. To put myself in the shoes of the heroine and gain strength from that.

My second favorite is Tori Amos' cover of "Strange Little Girl." It riffs a bit on "Little Red Riding Hood" and Alice in Wonderland:

Flavorwire says: 
Tori Amos tapped into a more anarchic quality of fairy tales in the video for her cover of The Stragglers’ “Strange Little Girl.” Amos touches on the mythology of The Little Red Riding Hood as an allegory for growing up and confronting your demons — the Big Bad Wolf, in this case. Maturity and refuge are both elusive until the girl finally confronts the demon — a confrontation that echoes the singer’s demand, “Strange little girl / Where are you going?” Amos’ use of the fairy-tale trope ultimately takes on a didactic tone, with the singer admonishing us, “There’s no need to run and nothing to fear.”
While there is not a straight-up confrontation in this video, like with Katy Perry's satisfying take down of the Minotaurs, Tori explores the idea of growing up and confronting your fears, though it seems that confronting your fears in this interpretation is not a choice, but a side effect of growing up and realizing your fears are a lot smaller than you thought they were. 

There are several more explored in Flavorwire's article, including Namie Amuro's “Do Me More” (2008), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' “Don’t Come Around Here No More” (1985), and Spice Girls' “Viva Forever” (1998).

Movies: Oz: The Great and Powerful

Ok, folks. I am breaking my rule here. I have always insisted that Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz are not fairy tales. They did not start out in oral tradition, they were invented by white guys within the last two hundred years and written as children's books. Do we call The Chronicles of Narnia fairy tales? What about Un Lun Dun? And, of course, the opposition argues that Hans Christian Anderson did the exact same thing. And Oscar Wilde. Why do we count those? And then I would say, but fairy tales have little characterization and are always short. Blah blah, back and forth. Feel free to weigh in in the comment section.

HOWEVER. I'm actually getting a little excited for the new movie coming out, Oz: The Great and Powerful. Io9 has brought my attention to this interesting behind the scenes video:

While we didn't really get to see any of the setting, and James Franco as an actor still worries me, the characterization of Oz sounds really interesting and spot on. And he and Mila Kunis are in love with the BOOKS, not just the movie, which is fantastic! 

Still could be a train wreck, but I am hopeful! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Video: Fairy Tale Roundtable with Experts from Theatre, Academia, and Literature

Once Upon a Blog recently brought my attention to this fascinating Fairy Tale Roundtable from 2007 with Anne Cattaneo (dramaturg), Mark Lamos (theatre director/ producer/ actor), Donna Jo Napoli (fiction writer), Roger Rahtz (psychiatrist), Maria Tatar (scholar), and Jack Zipes (scholar) wrestle with the question of How Fairy Tales Cast their Spell?

It is a marriage of my love of fairy tales and theater (especially Shakespeare)! They examine fairy tales from multiple disciplines, tell stories, and wrestle with the nature of tales through each lens.

This is an excellent discussion for anyone and worth the length!