Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fairy Tale Furor

Once upon a time...

Cliche? Yes.
But those four words still hold the power to lure a reader, or a listener, into the realm of imagination.

Fairy tales are often the first fiction stories with which we fall in love. They stir our hearts toward belief in the impossible, remind us that good triumphs over evil, and promote the boundless power of true love.

Perhaps it's a need to escape all the negativity and division around us, or the tragedy of war and natural disasters, or the fear of the future ... whatever the reason, the humble fairy tale is no longer limited to children's literature and animated Disney films. (Disney, in fact, has turned down several recent animated fairy tale remakes.)
On TV this season are two new prime-time series, "Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm," that mix and match various classic fairy tales in fresh modern contexts.

In theaters, we've seen a recent remake of Little Red Riding Hood, and Beauty and the Beast with Beastly.

This spring will see the much-anticipated release of Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen, and hunky Chris Hemsworth from Thor (also the people's Facebook choice to play Jamie Fraser in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander if and when the book ever becomes a movie) as the Huntsman.

It would be almost impossible to list all the books based on a fairy tale, written to reflect a fairy tale, or even lightly framed around a fairy tale plot. (I'm looking forward to reading Melanie Dickerson's new release, The Merchant's Daughter, based on Beauty and the Beast.)

Thumbelina via wikipedia
With all this fairy tale fever, I've been thinking about all the fairy tales I remember reading as a child, especially the obscure ones and the ones with unusual characters or plots, and wondering how those could be adapted into a fresh stories for this fairy tale hungry generation, like Thumbelina, or the Wild Swans for example. For inspirational writers, finding a way to weave the gospel of Christ into these classic stories provides an additional challenge.

These stories sparked my love of fiction and fantasy. Judging from the popularity of the remakes, the time is ripe to search out the hidden treasures in those classic stories. And there are far more stories out there to be told or retold in a fresh manner. Check out the following chart of fairy tales on wikipedia. You might be surprised by the number of stories listed that are unfamiliar to you.

Do you have a particular favorite fairy tale?
How do you feel about the remakes and re-tellings we're seeing in popular culture today? 

About the Author: Niki writes fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. She can be found at her own blog, In Truer Ink, in addition to posting here. She was a 2009 finalist in the Faith, Hope, and Love "Touched by Love" contest.


  1. I had a few fairy tale collections, filled with stories I might recall once I see them again, but which have remained unpopular for the most part.

    I loved the movie EVER AFTER, which fits well with your post, Niki and enjoyed how they pulled in diVinci.
    Delicious evil stepmother, and adorable Prince Charming.

    I managed to miss the boat on both fairy tale shows but I hear about them on FB.
    It will be interesting to see how Thor does as the Huntsman (and will they really make an Outlander movie? Hasn't this been rumored for decades? Personally I don't want one as much as I used to. I am convinced no one can be the Jamie we have created, and how can they do justice to such a long story?)

    Can't wait to read The Merchant's Daughter. God's timing was perfect for Melanie, wasn't it?

  2. Niki, you will love The Merchant's Daughter. It's yummy. Did you know Melanie has a contract for two new fairy tale books? Yay! I can't wait. I think the next one is out in July.

    The Little Mermaid is my favorite fairy tale. I've been watching Once Upon a Time and love it. I watched Grimm on On Demand one day when I was sick. It's an interesting idea, but very gruesome. However, in spite of that, I think Once Upon a Time is actually darker than Grimm because it has a greater sense of evil about it. Grimm seems more about survival than about evil. Either way, I say "long live fairy tales!"

    I can't wait for the Snow White movies.

  3. Yes, Ever After was a great movie! I'd forgotten all about it. The Princess Bride probably falls into the fairy tale category as well.

    As far as Outlander, according to her FB page, the author says a film co. has an "option" on the story but nothing is concrete. She's been having people post pictures they think fit various characters, and then voting from the top 10. So far the choices have been pretty amazing!

    I'm with ya, though, not sure a movie could ever match the books.

  4. Suzie, I must agree... the Little Mermaid is such a wonderful romance. Like Splash, which was my favorite movie for years and years!

    I watch Once Upon a Time when I have the TV to myself. But when the boys are home I can actually watch Grimm WITH them (probably because it IS pretty gruesome) and they enjoy it. I like the way they've pulled in all that German folklore. Grimm's actual fairy tales were pretty gross, actually!

    Agree with you that Once Upon A Time seems darker, though... the evil queen is, just, EVIL. : )

  5. I love fairy tales! I enjoyed watching and/or reading them with my daughters and now I get to enjoy to them once again with my granddaughters. Is it any wonder romance novels include a wide audience, and appeal to both the young and old alike. The Little Mermaid is definitely on my favorite list. Great post, Niki!

  6. Fairy tales are every popular right now, or maybe always! But retellings are very in at the moment. I was just at another site talking about this same subject. Lol! I love Tangled! What a fantastic movie! Sleeping Beauty has always been a favorite with me! I just read a modern retellings of it called Awake by Jessica Grey. Loved it!

  7. Ooh, Rita! That gives me something to look forward to with my grandson! I'd like to see some fairy tales retold from the male protags POV. THAT would be different!

  8. I loved "Tangled" as well, Candy. Rapunzel was one of my favorite reads as a kid, and I loved the way they worked the "bad boy" hero into the movie version. : )
    I think I saw "Awake" on Kindle. I'll have to look for it!

  9. I utterly love fairy tales. :-)

    Since we've been married, my husband and I have a disagreement over The Little Mermaid. He says the movie says it's okay to disobey your parents becuase in the end it'll all work out. I say the movie is a picture of grace because Dad could have allowed Ariel to face the consequence of her disobedience, but instead took her punishment on himself. Rather much like what Jesus did for us.

    We'll be married 19 years this July and we still don't agree.

    Here's some intersting takes on Disney fairy tale movies . . .

    WARNING: Not all are CBA apprpriate.

  10. Gina, those are fun. I'm saving them for as soon as I'm done here at work! I taught an entire Bible study series on the Disney princesses in Chile and had a blast with it. The parallels are SO much fun, and they translate across languages and cultural borders.
    That wikipedia chart of fairy tales is worldwide. We tend to be most familiar with the ones from the Grimm bros. and Hans Christian Anderson, but there are so many more.

    LOL. I remember all sorts of controversy in the Christian community over The Little Mermaid, for several reasons, including Ariel's disobedience.

  11. I love fairy tales, and I love adaptations of them to flesh them out.

    If I ever again have time, I will check out these new versions.

    I'm eager to read Melanie's books!

  12. Ah, DeAnna! ADAPTATIONS! That was the word I kept racking my brain for.

  13. I love fairy tales, too.

    We watch Once Upon a Time as a family and groan together. However, none of us like watching the Grimm commercials, so there's no way we'll watch the show.

    I wasn't aware of all the new Fairy Tale movies though, so will have to keep my eyes open.

    Thanks, Niki.

  14. There are some really good fairy tale movie remakes, Anita! Hope you can find some yummy ones to enjoy!

  15. Fun post! We love Once Upon a Time, and we watch Grimm, too.

    I liked your Thumbelina pic, Niki. I loved her as a child. I had a pop-up book...she had the most amazingly delightful bed in a walnut shell...

  16. My kids watch Once Upon a Time with me. Other than the main characters, the acting tends to be a hit or miss. Still, I like that the producers are confident enough to share their take on the fairy tales.

    My new theory is that who a character is in Fairytale world, he's the opposit in Storybrooke. Example: Charming/David. Charming is heroic and brave. David is a coward. Show is strong and confident. Mary-margaret is insecure and allows herself to be used.

    When the spell is broken, they become who they really are, such as Graham did by standing up to Regina.


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