Fairy Tale Fanboy
Six Crimson Cranes - Review
Six Crimson Cranes is Elizabeth Lim’s adaptation of the Brothers Grimm story The Six Swans, although it also contains elements from East Asian folklore and Japanese fairytales. Elizabeth Lim came to prominence with Rumpelstiltskin reimagining Spin the Dawn and its sequel Unravel the Dusk. She also wrote 'Reflection' and 'So This Is Love', two of the best books in Disney’s A Twisted Tale series of “What If?” novels.
How Backwards are the Seven Dwarves? The Snow White Dwarfism Row.
Disney’s frequently criticised but highly profitable factory of live-action remakes is still going strong, and the next live-action remake to enter production will be a new take on their 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. West Side Story breakout star Rachel Zegler will play the title role, with Gal Gadot getting to vamp it up as the Evil Queen. The traditional story is also receiving some substantial changes, as Broadway star Andrew Burnap will play a new male protagonist – a Robin Hood/Flynn Rider style rouge called Johnathan. In addition, the film will be feature new songs from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the duo behind the iconic music featured in La La Land and The Greatest Showman. After 5 ½ years in development hell, Snow White will finally begin production the middle of the year. However, before the cameras start rolling, Disney have to deal with one problem that is already giving them a real headache – In an age where increasing attention is being paid to the struggles of minority groups, is the traditional portrayal of the Seven Dwarves too un-PC for today’s sensibilities? The issue came out into the open after a complaint from America’s most famous and respected Dwarf celebrity, the actor Peter Dinklage. In an interview with Marc Maron on the WTF podcast, the Game of Thrones icon claimed that the story was “F-ing backwards” and argued that it was hypocritical that a company boasting about casting Latina actress Rachel Zegler as its lead character would preserve an inherently problematic take on dwarfism. In response, Disney issued a fairly generic corporate statement promising a more progressive depiction of Snow White’s companions. They stated they have been “taking a different approach with these seven characters” and claimed they held meetings with “members of the dwarfism community”. We still have no idea what changes have been made due to these routine discussions. An online article shortly afterward Disney’s statement suggested that the dwarves will be replaced by a new collection of unspecified fantasy creatures. On the other hand, the dwarf actor Martin Klebba (who was in the 2012 non-Disney Snow White retelling Mirror Mirror) has been rumoured to take over the role of the sceptical dwarf Grumpy. We still have to wait a few months for the start of filming, which will give us more time and the information necessary to make a clearer judgement over Disney’s approach towards dwarfism in their Snow White reimagining. Unsurprisingly, Dinklage’s complaints have created strong divides in the dwarfism community - several commentators in the dwarfism community have supported him, whilst others (including a few dwarf celebrities such as WWE star Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl) have accused him of trying to “cancel” the story of Snow White. As trivial as the argument over Dinklage’s comments may seem in comparison to other issues, it shined a valuable spotlight on the way Dwarfism is portrayed in the media, and the effect it has in the real world. Why do people believe that an escapist fantasy like Snow White perpetuates negative stereotypes about people with the condition, how can this be mended?
Fairytales and Fantasy in 2021
In many ways, 2021 was a frustrating year. Though vaccines and carefully applied restrictions reduced the fatalities caused by COVID 19, case numbers remained high throughout the year, with new variants causing several unpleasant spikes that led to considerable panic. Politics remained polarised - with the far-right populists who have dominated in recent years refusing to yield - and the “culture wars” over a variety of difficult and sensitive topics became uglier than ever. Freak weather events across the globe highlighted the extent of the Climate Crisis, and heavily hyped technological developments such as Space Voyages and Online NFT Auctions came to seen as wasteful extravagances out of tune with current concerns. However, there were several positives, particularly in the worlds of culture and entertainment. Fairytale adaptations (and other fairytale-inspired projects) had a very eventful 2021, with several releases gaining mainstream attention. There were both impressive highlights and frustrating lows, but after the COVID-induced relative inertia of 2020, this rollercoaster journey was certainly worth taking. For fairytale fans, these were the defining events of 2021:
(Note: This fairytale is my attempt at showing support for the Neurodivergent community, and providing them with a fairytale retelling of their own. Modern terms like "Autistic" and "Autistic Spectrum" are not used here, but people familar with these conditions should be able to recognise and relate to the personality traits depicted in this story.)
Poisoned - Review
In 2019, Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed 2003 YA novel A Northern Light (known as A Gathering Light in some territories), found renewed success with Stepsister. The story of “wicked” stepsister Isabelle and her journey from hated bully to heroic warrior, it represented a gritty but rousing spin on the fairytale genre. Donnelly has followed this up with Poisoned, which applies a similar revisionist approach to the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Since it was published late last year, Endeavour Productions have purchased the rights to make a movie adaptation.* But does Posioned confirm Jennifer Donnelly’s newfound status as a major star in the competitive subgenre of YA fairytales?
West End Live 2021 – A Retrospective
Since it was established in 2005, West End Live has become one of the defining highlights of the London theatrical calendar. Every June, hundreds of performers gather in Trafalgar Square to provide audiences with an insight into the energy and diversity of London theatre. Over the course of a single weekend, we get open-air performances from the casts of several West End Musicals, and they are joined by touring productions, dance shows, concerts, and even a couple of magic acts. In 2019, the event was attended by around 500,000 people, who watched 50 performances involving a total of approximately 700 performers. Like almost all in-person theatre events in 2020, West End Live was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, with a handful of major blockbusters providing smaller online concerts instead. This year, the success of the vaccination programme and the reopening of London’s theatres meant that it became possible to revive the event at full capacity. A full West End Live weekend took place last month (17th and 18th of September), featuring a total of 47 performances across the two days. Vaccine certifications were required to attend – an upgrade on the West End’ frustratingly lax safety protocols. West End Live 2021 represented an effective way of demonstrating that theatre has begun to regain its status as a cornerstone of London culture.
Disney A Twisted Tale Series Retrospective - Part One
A couple of weeks ago, Disney+ premiered the new Marvel animated series What If?, an anthology which provides a set of “What if?” stories changing established parts of the Marvel mythos. What if Captain America’s British girlfriend got the Super-serum instead? What if the Avengers were killed off by a mysterious force before they could get together? This sort of reimagining plays very well with fans, as it allows them to take familiar characters and see how they are shaped by new and intriguing scenarios. In 2015, Disney created the A Twisted Tale series, which applies this AU formula to the Disney Animated Canon. Each A Twisted Tale book is based on a Disney Animated Classic, with these stories changing elements at the beginning or end of the original story to create hundreds of pages of complications for our heroines and heroes to overcome. The A Twisted Tale series currently consists of eleven books - Six have been written by Liz Braswell, three by Jenn Calonita, and two by Elizabeth Lim. The eleven books adapt Disney Animation hits old and new (from Snow White to Frozen) with tones ranging from psychological horror to romantic fantasy, from epic quest narratives to dystopian actioners. However, all of them maintain a more serious and mature approach, with a greater sense of danger and threat. There are plenty of updates for contemporary sensibilities, such as more developed romantic relationships and several new female characters to even out the gender gap. Despite this, a lot of Disney’s upbeat fantasy charm remains intact, and fans will really enjoy seeing their favourite leads earn their happy endings.
Fairy Tales – The Ultimate Critic Proof Medium?
People often criticize fairy tales for promoting a dated, reactionary view of the world, but still maintain their status as defining cultural touchstones, with children continuing to read classic fairytales, watch fairytale films, and buy all sorts of Disney merchandise. Adults also love fairytales, with fairytale adaptations becoming a major YA subgenre, and fairytale films supposedly aimed at children gaining a vast millennial fanbase. In light of the continued perseverance of fairy tales, his article aims to examine whether or not they can be considered “Critic Proof”. To what extent do they evade the negative aspects of criticism, and how have responses to criticism allowed the genre to evolve? Due to Disney’s disproportionate dominance of the genre, much of this article will emphasize their movies, but it will also acknowledge the fairy tales they adapted, and some of the countless adaptations of these we have seen over the years.
Inside No. 9 Season 6 – Review and Episode Rankings
Since it premiered in 2014, Inside No.9, the dark comedy anthology series from The League of Gentlemen co-creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith – has consistently proven itself as one of the most inventive and original shows on British TV. The episodes are entirely stand-alone (although one turned out to be a followup to Psychoville) and set in a single location linked to a Number 9 in some way. The 37 episodes so far have varied from lightweight farce to gothic horror, from domestic drama to murder mystery, but the most common format is a seemingly banal event or activity going horribly wrong, usually with a gruesome sting in the tail. Pemberton and Shearsmith have appeared together in all but two of the episodes (Season One featured one episode without Pemberton and one without Shearsmith) accompanied by a large collection of veteran British actors, ranging from Gemma Arteton and Jack Whitehall to Derek Jacobi and Fiona Shaw.
Cursed: An Anthology - Review
What’s It About? Cursed is a fantasy anthology edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane and published in 2020 by fantasy publishers Titan Books. It contains twenty stories themed around the idea of being cursed, from reimaginings of Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel to stories about “screaming skulls” and vampire zombies. The authors range from fantasy icons such as Neil Gaiman and Jane Yolen to more overlooked writers. Seven of the stories in Cursed (‘Troll Bridge’, ‘The Black Fairy’s Curse’, ‘Wendy, Darling’, ‘Fairy Werewolf Vs. Vampire Zombie’, ‘Look Inside’, ‘Little Red’ and ‘Hated’) were originally written for older anthology series, but the rest were created especially for this collection.
Cinderella is Dead - Review
Cinderella is Dead is the debut novel from African American author Kalynn Bayron. Bloomsbury YA brought the rights to it in 2019, as part of a two-book contract which was recently extended to five books. Since it was published last year, Cinderella Is Dead has been critically acclaimed and nominated for several literary awards, with online book retailers Wordery declaring it their Children’s Book of The Year for 2020.