Have Fairytales Lost Their Magic Touch?

Once upon a time fairytales were a thing of magic, adventure and intrigue – an escape into another time and place where real dangers were lurking, but the moral compass would always bring you safely home.

But once the stories have been recycled over and over, they seem to lose their sparkle. Yes, there are movie adaptations that work, but should classic fairytales be given a 21stcentury reboot just because it’s the #trend?

Disney became the King and Queen of the fairytale with their very first full length animated feature in 1937 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But had dear old Walt Disney known that the very same story would be torn to pieces, not once but TWICE in the same year, with Kristen Stewart and Julia Roberts at the 2012 helm, I’m sure screaming into a pillow would be much more appropriate than whistling while he worked.

Based on the Brothers Grimm story Snow White, Stewart brought a wooden leading lady to the table in the dark Snow White and the Huntsman, while Julia Roberts’ attempt at Mirror Mirror’s evil queen didn’t hold a candle to the vindictive animated Disney character voiced by Lucille La Verne – her husky voice still sends shivers down my spine.

But that’s the problem with ‘modern day fairytales’ – vanity.

Spending most of their time revelling in the reflection at their box office figures rather than sparking the audience’s imagination, nowadays fairytale adaptations rely too heavily on the Hollywood names and big budgets to draw in the crowd rather than staying true to the original tales that made them what they are – classics.

Take the recent adaptation of Maleficent. Based on Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty, the film told the tale from the villain’s perspective – an interesting concept that could have taken the film to a whole new level but one that was ruined by the casting of Angelina Jolie.

Offering the role to such a well known actress forced the focus of the film to be about Jole taking on the original, terrifying role rather than the story itself – one that could have been superb. And the fact that the villain was more attractive than the title character Arora (hello, it’s called Sleeping Beauty) seemed pretty ridiculous.

Yes, Maleficent may have had magic powers but the adaptation lost some of the fairytale’s natural allure.

Now, Disney is rebooting another one of its enchanting classics, the 1950 animated film Cinderella. Granted the story wasn’t Disney’s to begin with; this is a tale that dates back at least 2,000 years, but Disney’s trademark feature length film is one that many will resonate with.

Topping the US Box Office on its first week of release, the 2015 real life adaptation has already been criticised for Cinderella’s tiny waist, with leading actress Lily James admitting that she was on a liquid diet while filming – a standard set by the unrealistic animated versions.

The story itself was recently touched upon in the musical Into the Woods earlier this year and left much to be desired. But it wasn’t just lacking the magical glisten of the glass slipper; it was missing the most important thing of all – a heart.

From the trailers, it’s clear that this new version will have some touching moments, especially if the speech from Cinderella’s mother is anything to go by. And complete with a Prince Charming, glass slippers and her friendly mice, it sounds like it could be onto the right track – but are we just being drawn in by Cate Blanchett’s icy stare as the wicked step mother and Helena Bonham Carter’s wave of the magic wand? Will this be another lack-lustre version of a tale many of us fell in love with as children?

Only time will tell. So at the stroke of midnight on Thursday 27 March, let’s hope we’re all enchanted by this new adaptation and not left feeling like the shattered pieces of a broken glass slipper.

Michelle Norris, Features Writer

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  1. I think Cinderella proved your theory wrong. Kenneth Branagh brought the magic for Cinderella.

  2. I would like to see all the old fairy-tales just left as they were originally done, very classic stuff our kids and grand-kids are missing out on. nothing is as good as the old Disney animation, so classic. Not everything has to be “new and improved”!

  3. I agree that this version of Cinderella was actually pretty good. Did it really need to be remade? Questionable. I definitely didn’t connect with Into the Woods, nor with the other recent movies you mentioned. I wish people had the confidence to try new material rather than try to recycle the old stuff over and over.

  4. My problem with “MALEFICENT” is that its running time was too short for my tastes. Otherwise, I had no problems with it.

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