“Once upon a time” is timeless again
How fairy tale adaptations are Hollywood’s newest fad
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Saturday, May 5, 2012 03:05
In television and film, a huge influx of fairy tale retellings continue to sustain viewers’ imaginations. The ABC drama “Once Upon a Time,” starring Ginnifer Goodwin, has brought fairy tale magic to modern-day Maine. The 2011 romantic fantasy film “Beastly” adapted the classic “Beauty and the Beast” for a teenage fan base. After spending six years adapting “Rapunzel” with computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology, Disney released “Tangled,” which brought in high box office revenue.
The entertainment industry has developed an understandable infatuation with fairy tale adaptations. Movies must have a personal appeal in order to encourage people to see them while in theaters—and so comes Hollywood’s newest safety net, fairy tales. Now that Hollywood has run out of ideas for biopics and superhero sequels, reinterpreting classic fairy tales gives new twists to traditional storylines. Whether it is the creative plots or feelings of nostalgia causing people to watch these retellings, fairy tales have become immensely popular. They are well-known stories that people grew up with, therefore people are more likely to go and see them in theaters versus other less famous films.
Fairy tales offer an escape from the modern world and allow people to envision themselves as a part of something whimsical. However, these stories were not originally intended for children, as many contain sexual references or violent acts. Some of the first fairy tales were passed down through dramatic storytelling, with one of the most well-known western fairy tale collections, “Aesop’s Fables,” originating in the sixth century B.C. It was not until the late 1600s in France that two of the most well-known fairy tales, “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty,” were created. These stories were followed in the 1800s by the tales compiled by the Brothers Grimm, the first collectors of fairy tales who preserved the characters, plot and style of the tales for future generations.
Fairy tales did not begin to be rewritten for children until the modern era, with Disney’s adaptations being the most well-known children’s fairy tales. But now, with modern retellings such as “Red Riding Hood” (2011) taking on darker and more sinister twists, fairy tales seem to be returning to their original dark beginnings. For example, in “Red Riding Hood,” the majority of the film takes place in a dark, ominous setting. The extreme violence throughout the film also serves to add to the film’s ongoing suspense.
Another example of a recent adaptation that uses fairy tales’ darker elements is “Once Upon a Time,” a TV series that takes place in a seemingly ordinary small town in Maine. However, the characters are trapped in our world after the evil queen casts a spell over her realm in the fairy-tale kingdom. Though “Once Upon a Time” has yet to receive a renewal contract to continue for a second season, the show is the highest-rated new broadcast drama of the season, counting on an average of 9.7 million viewers per week.
Later this year, moviegoers will debate spending their money between two different “Snow White” adaptations. Julia Roberts will star as the evil queen in a comedic adaptation entitled “Mirror Mirror,” while Kristen Stewart will take on the role of Snow White and confront Charlize Theron’s Queen Ravenna and her warriors in the action-packed “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Other films grounded in fairy tales are in production or will be released soon, including a new film of Hansel and Gretel and “Maleficent,” a Sleeping Beauty retelling starring Angelina Jolie told from the perspective of the villain.
Fairy tales exist all around the world and have been related time and time again to countless individuals. They serve to teach us a lesson about the world and create a place that can be truly magical. These stories have been passed down for generations and have been adapted many times along the way. Now, with Hollywood’s help, people are able to see their favorite childhood stories retold in a different light that brings out a darker reflection of the original version. While not everyone may like these new retellings, one thing is for certain—they are Hollywood’s newest safety pool, and they are here to stay until the pool is drained.