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Six Modern Fairy Tale Movies You Should Check Out

Once Upon a Time...

By Harriet ChristabelPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

While I tend to like a tightly wound drama or a harrowing documentary, there are some days where I love a fairy tale. Here are six movies that never fail to give me that little hit of magic whenever I need it!

1.) 'Porco Rosso'

Image Credit: Porco Rosso, dir. Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, 1992

Spoiler alert, Studio Ghibli's wonderfully magical Spirited Away does not appear on this list. But you won't be disappointed by this little gem of a movie about a World War One fighter pilot who has been turned into a pig by an unknown curse. The first thing you'll notice about this movie is that it's a heck of a lot of fun! There are exciting plane fights, squabbling air pirates, plucky female characters (including Porco Rosso's engineer and designer Fio and the army of women who actually build the plane!) and a rip roaring grand finale. If you want, you can dig into the movie's quieter moments for its heavier themes; it's quietly political and deals with survivor guilt, death, and post traumatic stress disorder. But you can also just enjoy the ride for the fun it is!

2.) 'Pan's Labyrinth'

Image Credit: Pan's Labyrinth, dir. Guillermo del Toro, Estudios Picasso, 2006

Things go darker still with Pan's Labyrinth; Ofelia may use the movie's fairy tale world to escape her life as the new stepdaughter of a 1940s army officer, but there is little respite as she completes the faun's tasks. Pan's Labyrinth swings perfectly between the world of Ofelia's imagination and the harshness of post-civil war Spain by ensuring that Ofelia's fantastic adventures have real world consequences. At the heart of this movie is a stunning performance from Ivana Baquero. While the visuals are gorgeous, it is her thoughtful and sympathetic portrayal of Ofelia that gives them soul and meaning.

3.) 'Edward Scissorhands'

Image Credit: Edward Scissorhands, dir. Tim Burton, 20th Century Fox, 1990

While Pan's Labyrinth is a fairy tale, Edward Scissorhands has all the creepiness, isolation, and doomed love of the gothic genre. Even Vincent Price makes an appearance as Edward's inventor who sadly passes away, leaving Edward alone in a house full of bizarre robots and topiary. The masterstroke that truly makes this movie is setting Edward's gothic fairy tale world against a perfectly pastille suburbia. Tim Burton's direction and Caroline Thompson's screenplay handle this juxtaposition in a truly masterful way that never feels forced or overly sentimental. It makes Edward Scissorhands a bit of an odd watch, but one you should definitely suspend your disbelief for if you haven't already!

4.) 'Ponyo'

Image Credit: Ponyo, dir. Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, 2008

You'd be hard pressed to find anything more than the lightest shadows in this Studio Ghibli movie and that's why I always enjoy it so much! Ponyo takes the story of The Little Mermaid and replaces all the teenage angst with the simple joys of being a 5-year-old. Ponyo begins the movie as a little red fish who falls in love with a boy called Sosuke after he rescues her from a jam jar. After her father takes her back, Ponyo refuses to stay with him and uses her magic to return to Sosuke as a little girl. It's funny, it's sweet, it's beautifully animated, and the end is practically guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!

5.) 'The Fall'

Image Credit: The Fall, dir. Tarsem Singh, Googly Films, 2006

If you like your movies to have fun costumes and amazing sets, then you need to treat yourself to watching The Fall. This is a sumptuous spectacle of incredible visuals spun around an action packed quest and a truly eclectic group of characters. For all its splendour, The Fall has a very simple premise at its heart: an injured man and a little girl meet in hospital, and he tells her stories. The premise works brilliant due to the wonderful relation these unlikely friends have; Lee Pace gives a moving performance as Roy while Catinca Untaru is irrepressibly charming and optimistic as Alexandria. This makes The Fall both a treat for your eyes and your heart!

6.) 'The Princess and the Frog'

Image Credit: The Princess and the Frog, dir. Ron Clements and John Musker, Disney, 2009

How do you dust down an old children's story and make it fun again? You add a great soundtrack, Disney's first African American princess, and voodoo! And believe me, it really works. The Princess and the Frog is Disney at their best, with important lessons about work and play dealt with via good music and hilarious side characters. Until the movie's villain comes into shot, and then things get a bit spooky... The only down to watching this movie is that it may leave you wishing that Disney would step away from the computers from time to time to do some good old-fashioned hand-drawn stuff.

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About the Creator

Harriet Christabel

Harriet Christabel is a writer living in Scotland. When her depression and anxiety let her, she enjoys knitting, reading, a good mystery and true crime.

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    Harriet ChristabelWritten by Harriet Christabel

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