Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fairy Tales by Vinicius de Moraes Pereira

The Girl Who Trod On A Loaf
Unfortunately there isn't much information about this Brazilian illustrator which is a shame as there is some really nice work here and I'd love to help him become more known. Mr. Pereira (aka ViniWolf) has a very nice gallery on CGPortfolio and it includes some beautifully - and differently - done fairy tale illustrations.
The Emperor's New Suit
These paintings are, however, new - uploaded on February this year, so I'm hoping we'll see more from him soon. It appears as if he's working on a Hans Christian Andersen project for a Brazilian editor (a magazine?) for this series. Quite an unusual set of tale choices.

The Little Mermaid

You can find more of his work HERE.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sunset Boulevard and Snow White

 With so many discussion of Snow White the tale, Snow White adaptations and retellings and Snow White on film, I thought it was a good time to post briefly on the connection I see with academy award winning film Sunset Boulevard.

It was Willa: An American Snow White that made me click to the connection. Being set in the theater with a beautiful but aging star in the role of the queen and an up and coming talented actress as Snow White (Willa) it wasn't too much of a jump to take the comparison to the movie business.

Since the connection occurred to me I can no longer see the classic Sunset Blvd without thinking of it as "the tale of the unfortunate huntsman-prince". If you keep Snow White in mind as you watch Sunset it's not too much of a stretch to consider it a Hollywood noir version of the Wicked Queen's story, as told through the eyes of the huntsman/prince (who becomes collateral damage). Although Gloria Swanson doesn't play a parent, she is a film role-model (both on-screen and off) for the wanna-be stars of the next generation and is as removed from, and aloof toward them as any self-involved queen could be.

Just as Snow White seems to be a definitive film in cinema history due to it's strong motifs/imagery and dark vs light character and story elements, so too, Sunset Boulevard can claim the same. It seems we continually return to this type of tale to define key times of both success and a (usually tragic) "changing of the guard", when one era and generation give way to the next.

The quote below further strengthens the connection to the darker, more unapologetic variants of Snow White for me:
Film writer Richard Corliss describes Sunset Boulevard as "the definitive Hollywood horror movie," noting that almost everything in the script is "ghoulish." He remarks that the story is narrated by a dead man whom Norma Desmond first mistakes for an undertaker, while most of the film takes place "in an old, dark house that only opens its doors to the living dead." He compares Von Stroheim's character Max with Erik of The Phantom of the Opera, and Norma Desmond with Dracula, noting that, as she seduces Joe Gillis, the camera tactfully withdraws with "the traditional directorial attitude taken towards Dracula's jugular seductions." (source)
Now Neil Gaiman's Snow, Glass Apples, which doesn't change too many of the key elements of the tale at all despite the use of "the living dead" and other vampiric elements, seems even more natural of a retelling, doesn't it?

Ironically, this tragic character who's inevitable downfall we watch and can sympathize with, is probably more true to the tale than most happily-ever-after versions, since it gives an indication of the fall-out that can occur when a queen loses her throne. While the prince character has no chance of happiness with the rising star he's fallen in love with, like the fairy tale, we do see the beginning of the queen's dance in red hot iron shoes at the close of the film. Her delusions continue to a mental cracking of her inner mirror so reality and fantasy are no longer separated. All this is revealed, as is her crime, under the hot, hot spotlight of a ravenous news crew and police escort. She both gives herself up to her deserved fate and gives herself over to her consuming madness in her final famous line: "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." 

In true Hollywood style, she ensures her image is the one that will never be forgotten. Snow White - and every other hopeful - don't stand a chance.

I could make further parallels but it's probably best, considering the iconic nature of the film, to let you find your own unique connections to Snow White. I bet you'll find more than a few. Take a look at the plot HERE with this in mind. You'll see what I mean.
This poster, which everyone says captures the spirit of Norma Desmond and the driving force behind the story, reminds me of Medusa - another tale about being trapped by beauty and the power in reflection.

Article:Five Fun Facts About Snow White

I know - you think these will be trite and you will have read them a thousand places before but these ones are a little different. Although it's essentially a promo for Mirror Mirror the writer in this case is aware it's the 200th anniversary of Grimm's Household Tales and goes on to prove they did a bit of research for the piece.

Here's a couple of excerpts from the StarPulse article:
1) The original tale that the Brothers Grimm collected painted Snow White’s mother, not stepmother, as the villain who wanted her dead.  Snow’s mom is also the one who brings her out to the woods to be lost (instead of sending a huntsman out to kill her).  The switch was made from mother to stepmother to presumably make the story less frightening to children. 
3) In 1979, British novelist Angela Carter put her own adult spin on many fairy tales in her book “The Bloody Chamber”.  Within this collection is a vignette called “The Snow Child”, where instead of the Queen (or Countess) asking for a beautiful daughter, a Count does.  When he comes upon a girl in the snow fitting the description he asked for, he becomes enamored of her, much to the disapproval of his Countess.  The girl pricks her hand on the thorn of a rose and dies so the Count does what any count would do in a fairy tale and he rapes her dead body (which then disappears into the snow). Who needs a happy ending, right?
You have to love it when people finally appear as if they're doing some proper research. :)

You can read facts 2, 4 and 5 HERE and see a clip of Betty Boop as Snow White too.

Article: Why Snow White and the Huntsman wasn’t instead titled Bad-Ass Evil Queen

From the ever-sassy (and very fun to read) reporters at io9, here are some excerpts from an interview with the director of Snow White and the Huntsman, talking about Snow vs the Queen and about fairy tales and fairy tale films:

If you've seen the spooky dark magic trailers for Snow White and the Huntsman, then you too might think that Snow White will be eclipsed by the awesome Evil Queen's (Charlize Theron) kick-ass soul-sucking and milk-bathing.
We asked this dirty fairy tale's director, Rupert Sanders, why this movie wasn't called Evil Queen: Unhinged, and just how much screen time Snow White has.  
This movie makes us think about Eighties fantasy flicks like Willow and Beastmaster, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal — did you revisit a lot of these films?I didn't actually. I actually tried to, but I don't know, they belong to a different era. I revisited Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Victorian fairy painters who had been locked up in mental institutions. I revisited the Grimm's fairy tales and a lot of the other Hans Christian Andersen tales. And just tried to immerse myself in the real fairy tales. "Black fantasy" is very different from "black fairy tales." Fantasy films are here and fairy tales are here. There's definitely a very thin dividing line. But a fairy tale film is very different, to me, from a fantasy film. 
From the look of the trailer, it feels like this movie should be called Evil Queen not Snow White. How much is Kristen Stewart in this film?She's in it, ironically, more than the Evil Queen. I think when you market a film you have to kind of create something that people grab on to, a very simple story line. Our film has so many characters we chose one thing that people would understand and that's the villain. And I think you will see, as the marketing gets closer, you'll see more of Kristen woven into that.

You can read the whole article and interview with director Rupert Sanders HERE.

Best line in there? "...just tried to immerse myself in the real fairy tales..." With those ten words I am more encouraged to see the film than by any (awesome) behind-the-scenes featurettes on spectacular costumes, though, that certainly helped boost my enthusiasm, I admit. :) Now I really hope there's a behind-the-scenes book of this film!

The Eastern Inspired Fairy Tales of Corinne Reid

This artist has been on my "gotta blog" list for a while now so I thought it was high time I share her work with you.
Magic Paintbrush

The artist is Corinne Reid, who just graduated with a BFA in illustration. Her work is inspired by real life mixed with fairy tales of Eastern origin and feels both new and classic all at once.
Flowers of Illusion

She was interviewed by My Modern Metropolis earlier this year. Here is an excerpt:

Each of your pieces are very powerful in their own way. Where do you find inspiration? 
Much of my inspiration comes from Eastern cultures. Ever since I was younger, I've been enamored with the delicacy and beautiful stillness of Chinese, Japanese, and Indian painting, and have tried to incorporate those same ideals into my work. Although like many other artists, I'm also inspired by the natural world around me. Nature can present such beautiful, strange forms, and I often find myself taking reference from nature blogs, or outside in the forests of where I live.
You can read the whole interview HERE.

Wild Dog (this reminds me of the Wolf and Grandma, or Red, Grandma and Wolf together)

Isn't her work so beautifully and moving?

Ms. Reid's blog is HERE, where you can see much more of her work. Her website with gallery is HERE and you can purchase her work HERE.
Silent Dreams (It focuses on celebrating the innovation and imagination of Helen Keller.)

Article: Snow White's Strange Cinematic History

All these adaptations may be a little surprising to someone who hasn't actively tracked down Snow White films but the timing for a summary couldn't be better with Mirror Mirror in theaters and Snow White and the Huntsman releasing just around the corner.

Please note: this is not a definitive list of all the Snow White films but it does include the important ones that impacted the public in some way.

Some excerpts from The Atlantic article Snow White's Strange Cinematic History:
If an enterprising Hollywood executive asked a magic mirror which fairy tale made the fairest box office-gross of all, the answer would undoubtedly be "Snow White." Even for the fairy-tale film genre, the character's history is unusually rich and varied: IMDB currently lists 91 films and TV shows featuring a character named "Snow White," which is dozens more than other comparable fairy-tale heroines, including Belle of Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty of Sleeping Beauty. 
... Snow White, like The Three Musketeers and Sherlock Holmes, has existed in cinema for almost as long as cinema has existed. The oldest film adaptation of the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale hit theaters in 1902. Though the Snow White story was retold by film directors three more times over the next 15 years, the most significant adaptation came in 1916. The Margeurite Clark-starring film was well received, but its true cinematic legacy came with the impact it had on a 15-year-old newsboy named Walt Disney. 
It was more than 20 years before Disney would release his own cinematic version of Snow White, but it was 20 years worth waiting. Discussing Snow White's cinematic history without mentioning Disney's legendary 1937 animated adaptation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, would be like discussing the ocean without mentioning water. The very existence of the film was groundbreaking. As Disney's first feature-length animated film, it's the progenitor of a genre that kept Disney afloat, both critically and commercially, for decades. Upon its release, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was immediately deemed a masterpiece...   

... (and) fairy-tale filmmakers have spent the past 75 years trying to escape the Disney version's long shadow. 
The results have often been ugly. There's a subtle racism at play in the Grimms's original story, which holds that "skin white as snow" is the highest form of beauty, but a parodic 1943 Merrie Melodies short, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs is so hideously, unforgivably racist that it's hard to know where to begin.
“Snow White, AKA White Snow” HBO 1995*
Coal Black**
The Atlantic gives good summary of why this version is, in fact so hideous but what I find so interesting is that after all Snow White and its variants have stood for over centuries, this manifestation made its way into history and forever casts a very dark shadow on the tale in a way even the goriest adaptations don't.
Though the Snow White story has never had as offensive an adaptation as Coal Black, there are plenty that are just as offbeat. Snow White has met the Three Stooges and Nintendo's Mario. She's been reimagined as a Native American princess and a freshman in college. She's made appearances in the kiddiest of kid fare (including a Hallmark-produced TV movie in 2001) while also appearing in films as adult-oriented as Showtime's 1997 Snow White: A Tale of Terror, which features implied rape, miscarriage, and suicide.

You can read the whole article which has much more detail HERE. It includes an image and brief description of 24 different film adaptations.

Snow White: A Tale of Terror is actually one of my favorite film versions of the tale, in spite of the horror. It has a strong thriller vibe, blended with a gothic approach but when you add in the use of black magic - along with a queen losing herself to insanity, being possessed by something very dark - you will naturally end up with some gore. It feels more true to some the variants I've read and has a blend of history and very gritty fantasy.

I recently saw 7 Swerge (or 7 Dwarves: Men Alone in the Wood) for the first time (thank you Netflix instant play!). It's bawdy, a little slapstick, very tongue-in-cheek and has a lot of fun weaving in other tales and generally taking the mickey out of itself while doing a nice job overall. While the visuals are almost childlike much of the time the humor is adult. Not my usual fare at all but it was entertaining and I was surprised I hadn't heard more about it.

There's no mention in the article or image list (or Wikipedia!) of Willa: An American Snow White, but that adaptation should be included on a list of Snow White films too. I particularly liked the interweaving of other classics, notably Romeo & Juliet and various shades of The Wizard of Oz (and, of course, the theater setting makes a wonderful sense). You can find out more information about that film HERE.

If you want to read more about Snow White film adaptations, there's another article HERE.

*Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child – “Snow White, AKA White Snow” (Episode of HBO series, 1995)
**Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs (Merrie Melodies cartoon, 1943)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Article Catch-Up: More on Modern Snow Whites, Fairy Tales on TV, Arabian Nights and Pullman's Grimm Retellings

As always, I have a list of posts I haven't managed to get to and since a few of these were going to comment on articles I thought I'd list them with links and teaser excerpts so you don't miss them:

Q&A With ‘Once Upon a Time’ Showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Spoilers)

How has Once Upon a Time evolved? Has it gone the way you always envisioned or become something you didn’t originally think it would?Edward Kitsis: Our dream was to tell certain stories like, why Grumpy became grumpy. Why does the Evil Queen hate Snow White? Tonight it’s why the Mad Hatter is mad. What’s great is through those shows you get to know everyone...
Other things revealed in the recent Wondercon panel:• With no word on renewal, both remain hopeful but do have an idea of how the story will end. They’ve given themselves the flexibility and freedom to manage that ending given their cloudy future, but don’t want to commit to something specific in the event that they change their minds as the series evolves. 
They do mention some spoilery things including fairy tale characters we'll be seeing before the end of season 1 - so skip it if you want to be surprised. The whole article is HERE.
Linked to from fairy tale blog The Dark Forest, this article gives a little history of Snow White tale variations, especially quoting Ruth Bottigheimer. All current film versions of Snow White are discussed (ABC's Once Upon A Time, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman) and the differences in character are compared to the tale variations (and to Disney's version too).

“Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders takes the princess-as-rescuer theme further, making Stewart’s Snow White into a literal warrior. But he insists he’s not trying to fashion her into a kind of superhero.“She wears a suit of armor, but she’s not suddenly Bruce Lee’s adopted sister,” he told “She is wearing armor for protection and she has to kill a queen. It’s very instinctual, it’s defensive. She knows she has to kill someone, and that sword lies very uneasy in her hand.”

The article finishes by discussing the tale itself, as opposed to the current pop culture versions:

“The classic Snow White story has lots of appeal,” says Haase. “It includes some very vivid characters and motifs — like the magic mirror, the poison apple and the dwarfs — and it deals with some intense emotions and drama, like the mother-daughter relationship, jealousy, murder and rebirth.”Plus, says Silverstein, “Snow White is the perfect fairy tale. You’ve got the good girl, the pure Snow White, and the bad girl, the Evil Queen. Which is pretty much the box that all women get put into.”

The whole three page article is HERE and Dark Forest's excellent post questioning aspects of it is HERE. Note: The article mentions Disney has axed the live action version of Snow White, by which I presume they mean Order of Seven. I have yet to find confirmation of this, especially since recent activity (reported around Feb 10) on the project would suggest a ramping up, not an abandonment.


Discussing the compelling evil of the Wicked Queen in Snow White:

That kind of evil is not easily forgotten. The queen in Disney's 1937 animated "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" has become an icon of wickedness.
On American Film Institute's list of the top 50 villains and 50 heroes, the queen of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" ranks as the No. 10 villain (Dr. Hannibal Lecter/"The Silence of the Lambs" is No. 1). 

Professor Zipes is quoted and the complexity of the queen's character is discussed and is contrasted with the newer, more heroic, warrior woman, versions of Snow White coming to us in film this year, bringing us back around to the question: In a real showdown between the two, who would really win? Snow White or the Evil Queen and why?

The queen is more complex, Zipes notes. "We really don't know too much about her - where she gets her powers. She's mysterious."The aging beauty also knows deep down that she will be replaced by a younger woman. "That is still today for a lot of women a great concern," said Zipes, University of Minnesotaprofessor emeritus.

Not to be missed, a side bar lists some interesting Wicked Queen facts:

Mirror doesn't lie
In "Annie Hall" (1977), Alvy (Woody Allen) says that when he saw Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," he was attracted to the Evil Queen. Here are seven more queens Alvy may find entrancing:
Arpazia: The evil queen gets a back story in Tanith Lee's novel "White as Snow" (Tor Books, $16.99).
Queen of Fables: A Justice League villain decides Wonder Woman resembles Snow White in the DC Comics series.
Evil Queen: The queen (Diana Rigg) plots to kill Snow White in the 1987 musical.
Queen Elspeth: Miranda Richardson plays the insecure queen in "Snow White: The Fairest of Them All" (2001).
Claudia Hoffman: Sigourney Weaver plays the stepmother in "Snow White: A Tale of Terror" (1997).
Evil Queen: Olivia Wilde poses as the queen in photographer Annie Liebovitz's image for the Disney Dream Portrait Series. Alec Baldwin is the face of the mirror.
The Queen: She tells a different version of her encounter with Snow White in Neil Gaiman's short story "Snow, Glass, Apples."

You can read this whole article HERE.


Now that NBC's Grimm has debuted in the UK there are quite a few articles introducing the series and talking about the premise. This article has a couple of extra tidbits:

“Fairy tales in general are just kind of great ideas to do for a show because one of the things that is very common among fairy tales is, I feel, there’s a very innate psychological need for a safe haven that’s like inherent in all humans. So, in a lot of fairy tales, you have this protagonist who’s fighting to return home or something. I think that’s a great format for each episode as you have this sort of quest of sorts.“In our world, a fairy tale often has a lesson attached to it – whether it’s a warning or as a tale of hope. At the very last layer of that message is a problem, usually revolving around a family.

...Tulloch started poring over these tales and legends after getting the part in the show, although she is the most normal person in it. Answering a question about which of the stories is her favourite, she pickedCinderella. and it’s a story she hopes that will be explored in an episode of the series.She explained: “That story is rather gruesome; the sisters end up having their eyes pecked out by crows. So, I think that one would be really cool. The Frog Prince would be kind of cool to do, I think.“One of the most interesting things I came across when I was doing research was ­ – and now I’m like completely outing myself as a little bit of a nerd – but I was reading PhD paper that I found online that deducted that (The Grimm Brothers) weren’t writers, but were sort of cultural researchers and kind of forefathers of forensic psychology, which I thought was really an interesting way to look at it instead of being profilers.“And that’s kind of what Nick has, this innate ability to profile people.”
If you remember the "sexy-dead" promos for Grimm before the series started in the US (that's another post I never finished!), you'll remember there was in fact a Cinderella like character and one that alluded to a frog prince gone horribly wrong (as per the image shown above) so she may get her wish. You can read the whole article HERE.


Discussing the latest book by fairy tale scholar Marina Warner, this article has me intrigued. I really hope I get to read this book, and soon.

The format (book-about-a-book) fits especially well for trying to pick the locks of Arabian Nights, itself a collection of boxes within boxes of twice- or thrice-told tales.Warner helpfully intersperses 15 paraphrased versions of the jump-the-shark stories Shahrazad interrupted each dawn so that her plot-driven husband would keep her alive to finish the next night, his moment of satisfaction infinitely receding: “The City of Brass,” “The Prince of the Black Islands.” She astonishes with the granularity of her accounts of the impact of these stories on their original European readers: inspired by the Arabian literature craze, as well as by the Persian poets Hafiz and Rumi, Goethe took to wearing a caftan and turban, known as “turning Turk” in the 18th century, while writing his West-Eastern Divan. Much of the narrative machinery of the original tales, such as Solomon’s flying carpet on which entire armies could be transported, both predicted and were then perfected in silent movies, especially the Hollywood “Easterns,” often prequels and sequels to Arabian Nights, beginning with Douglas Fairbanks’s lavish The Thief of Bagdad (1924), as well as musical theater and Walt Disney animation.
...(Warner) hangs her (our?) hopes on the circular ways that our heroine, not a warrior like Achilles, but a wily storyteller, speaks both truth and imagination to power: “to give the princes and sultans of this world pause. This was—and is—Shahrazad’s way.”

You can read the whole review HERE.


And finally a few articles discussing Philip Pullman's soon-to-be-released (in September) retellings of 50 of Grimm's tales in honor of the 200th anniversary of Household Tales:

From The Independent: The Blagger's Guide To ... Grimms' fairy tales - Scaring children everywhere for 200 years

Pullman has long counted himself as a fan of the stories, and has been working on his own versions for some time. Last year, he told the fansite "This isn't a book for children only. I'm telling the best of the tales in my own voice, and I'm finding it a great purifier of narrative thinking, rather as a pianist relishes playing Bach's preludes and fugues as a sort of palate-cleansing discipline."
Pullman's collection will include many of the best-known fairy tales – "Rapunzel", "Snow White", "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood" – as well as other, lesser-known works. His favourite, he says, is "The Juniper Tree" – a sordid tale of an evil stepmother who murders her stepson and makes him into blood puddings. He has also included "The Three Snake Leaves", "Hans My Hedgehog" and "Godfather Death".
(Pullma) is retelling them in "clear as water" new versions, complete with commentary on each story's history and background.

From Huffington Post UK: Philip Pullman's Fairytales To Launch in September
The Grimms' tales aren't known for their child-friendly nature - in which evil sisters lose their toes, evil stepmothers dance to death in red-hot iron shoes and evil, well, anything, come to a sticky end - but we're not expecting Pullman to sweeten any pills either. After all, scalping, poison and soul-severing all featured heavily in His Dark Materials. No doubt come September we'll be reading it with the lights on.
 And while we're on the subject here's a note from Pullman from his website:

Books with pictures and fairy tales

I love looking at good illustrations. The best of them are not only a pleasure for the eye, but a real addition to the text. I've had the privilege of working with some wonderful illustrators, and I hope to write many more texts for illustration in the future. Actually, I've got a not-very-secret ambition: I want to write and illustrate a picture book all by myself. But I'll have to do a lot of practice, and even then I won't ever come near the skill of a Peter Bailey or an Ian Beck or a John Lawrence – to name some of my favourite illustrators.However, the next best thing is to enjoy their pictures alongside my words. And that'll have to do, for now.
There's been no mention of illustrations in this new collection of retold Grimm's tales from Pullman but considering books like Clockwork, Or All Wound Up (one of my favorites!) I would hope we're in for some new illustrative treats as well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"The Hunger Games" and Myth and Fairy Tale

Maria Tatar put up a link on her blog yesterday to an LA Times article discussing the too dark/not-dark-enough movie The Hunger Games.

Having just read the books this past month I finally have some sense of why they are so popular, though any talk of "teams" or fan-squee-ing has me scratching my head since they're just not those sorts of books. It's taken me a long while to get on board (since having wasted time and money on previously highly popular YA books) but I can gladly say these are well written and well worth the investment. I wouldn't be surprised if they became required reading for high school at some point.
Note: If you managed to avoid all sense of the books as I did before reading, for the purposes of this post you should know (don't worry - this is premise - no spoilers) that it's set in a near post-war (aka post apocalyptic) future in which people are divided into districts and controlled by a wealthy Capitol. In order to keep the districts under control each year the districts are forced to send two children, aged between 12 and 18, to "The Hunger Games", to fight each other to the death - while everyone watches (viewing is mandatory)  via an exploitive media and "entertainment-fest". The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, steps up to take the place of her younger sister during the reaping/choosing.
 I have since been very concerned that any movie will not do justice to the book, the characters, the story or the issues in the series and sadly foresee many people not even bothering to pick up the books after dismissing the sensationalized (by the media and of the issues) movie. Despite that the story is riveting and there is plenty of fodder that should make for an amazing film, I think the subject matter (think Lord of the Flies + 1984 + Gladiators and more), juggled with trying to keep it accessible to an under-18 audience, is a task beyond most filmmakers today. (You may have heard about the removal of 7 seconds of blood spatter to allow the film a PG rating. The result is that the direness of Katniss' situation is severely diluted from an audience perspective - exactly what the books aim NOT to do, though Ms. Collins manages to keep the peril very present without concentration on the gore, thanks to excellent writing.) From the reviews, it's suffering from just that problem, even having the author on board as writer ad consultant for the script. It's a weird feeling: wishing the film would do very well and simultaneously wishing it would pass quickly by so the books would retain their popularity and intrigue, causing more people to read them. If you at all interested in seeing the movie, please pick up the book first and give it a read before you do. It's a very quick read and you won't be sorry.

That said, I was very interested to read how the author, Suzanne Collins, was inspired by the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in particular. As a  result, it's not to much of a stretch to find parallels in fairy tales either.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:
Collins has said she found inspiration for her story, which is set in the future, in the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, in which the Cypriots demand Athens send seven boys and girls each year as food for the half-man, half-bull, until Theseus slays the beast. In "The Hunger Games," Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old tomboy handy with a bow and arrow, is a Theseus-type character, a young savior fighting on behalf of all the other children. 
...The brutality of "The Hunger Games," which results in the deaths of more than 20 youths, follows in the gory footsteps of many of the Grimms' fairy tales, which were first published in 1812. In "Hansel and Gretel," a pair of abandoned siblings escape from a cannibalistic witch by stuffing her into the oven; in "The Juniper Tree," a woman slams the lid of a trunk on her stepson and decapitates him; and in the axiomatically titled "How Some Children Play at Slaughtering," a little boy stands in for a pig in a child's game of butchering.
I highly recommend reading all Ms. Tatar's comments (she is quote in the article) on why we are so compelled by this subject and why Katniss is such an appealing heroine for both adults and children. You can read the whole article HERE.

While at first glance The Hunger Games doesn't appear to have much in common with fairy tales at all it isn't hard to think of connections once you start. I'm reminded of stories about Koschei the Deathless, to the Little Match Girl to Deals with the Devil to tales in which girls, all striving to appear perfect as suitors to a prince fail in their conformity and lose their heads. (It's the girl who breaks most of the rules that gets chosen in the end, though why she would want to marry someone who would have cut off her head a few minutes before is disturbing. I'm guessing, like the Miller's Daughter, you will do things you never would have considered to save not just your life but the lives of those you love.) I wish I could remember which tale this last one was! I think it had an Asian origin, although there are a few Russian ones that have similar tropes as well, not to mention Scheherezade's predicament, though she wasn't having to kill other women at the same time.

The story of the Hunger Games is told mainly through the heroine, Katniss' eyes so the stakes are very immediate and real for the reader. Fairy tales are often set in a nebulous time and are somewhat removed from us via the matter-of-fact story telling so that one tends to adjust to the story, implications and messages in it as one is emotionally and mentally ready. Not so The Hunger Games. Although the story of death, slaughter, risk and sacrifice isn't a new idea, as fairy tales from many cultures attest to, having the setting and characters be so specific in their voice and set in a time we can see as a possibility in our own futures, brings home the chill of how little mankind has changed since our gruesome, gory and bloody (recent) past. But will it be the wake-up call, the Prometheus, if you will, that society needs? Sadly, our own media machines and the tendency to rev up fandom as a response to extreme ideas results in diluting the very issues that caught out attention in the first place (we already have parodies of the books widely available and Hunger Games cookbooks and badges for "teams". Even the Twitter feed of Lions Gate Films announcing the cast is almost an exact echo of the how the children chosen for slaughter are "introduced" to the public... *shudder*). The very fact that we have a movie - and marketing - like this may just be a dark mirror of its source (though many won't even realize it).

It's a reminder (to me) that we should be familiar with our fairy tales and holding their lessons close. History has a tendency to repeat itself and we can't say we haven't been warned.

At the time of this writing The Hunger Games books are available at a discounted price almost everywhere (pharmacies, Targets, Kmarts and Walmarts etc), with the first book in paperback being available for around the $6 mark (except in bookstores like Barnes & Noble, though Amazon's price is currently low too). Online you can get the first book, which the movie is based on, HERE.

Fan Made "Snow White and the Huntsman Poster"

This is a gorgeous fan-made poster for the upcoming film, Snow White and the Huntsman by Dwayne Labuschagne (aka chronophasia on deviantArt).

Mr. Labuschagne says, about the work:
 I've always been a fan of minimalist posters with interesting designs, so I got this idea to create a unique poster for Snow White and the Huntsman using only silhouettes to represent key imagery from the film. The silhouettes consist of stock images that I have tweaked in some way and expanded upon using other silhouettes. Those that I created myself are the silhouettes for the evil queen, the mysterious forest creature and the apple.
Universal Studios are currently looking for fan-made art for the movie and this poster was one of the works submitted (I'm not sure if the artist submitted it himself or it was submitted for him).

If you are interested in submitting your own piece, you can do that HERE.

You can see more of Mr. Labuschagne's work HERE.

Guest Post at SurLaLune for Fairy Tale Music Month: Evanescence

I have a guest post over at SurLaLune today, discussing the Evanescence music video for "Call Me When You're Sober" (using Red Riding Hood imagery) and the fairy tale connections and use by fans of the hit song "Bring Me To Life".

You can find the post, Music Videos: "Call Me When You're Sober" & "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence HERE.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Camille Rose Garcia's Dark and Disneyesque Snow White

Although I had seen Camille Rose Garcia's illustrations around in the past year or so she never really caught my attention until Amy Leigh Morgan blogged about her Snow White art and related book and show over at The Fairy Tale Factory back in February. She has, however, been around for a little while (since 2007) and has made a big impact in a short period of time. Her previous book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was a New York Times Bestseller.
UPDATE: I took myself to the local bookstore for a rainy-day book browse yesterday and was delighted to find Garcia's Snow White there on the Myth & Folklore shelf. Although I had already written this post a while back and had browsed the illustrations and information about the book at length I had no idea the edition was so gorgeous. Hardcover, beautifully printed and full - chock-full! - of amazing illustrations that blew me away... and this isn't the types of style I'm usually drawn to either. I had to rush home and put it on my Amazon gotta-get Wish List and update my draft before letting it publish so I could let you know: this is worth a look-see (if you can get your hands on a copy) and well worth the price. Now back to your regularly scheduled post... ;)
Here's the artistic description of the newly released book (the cover is shown at the head of the post), rather than a synopsis, since you're all familiar with Grimm's Little Snow White.
A breathtaking, wildly original spin on the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Harper Design’s Snow White is boldly and beautifully reimagined by acclaimed artist Camille Rose Garcia, the illustrator of the New York Times bestseller Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Delivering a fresh take on a vintage fairy tale, Garcia's dark and Disneyesque art, with its vivid colors and luscious, dripping  blacks, will weave a spell around fans of illustrated books from Daniel Egnéus’s Little Red Riding Hood to Femke Hiemstra’s Rock Candy.
This new gift edition presents the unabridged version of the Grimms’ tale, with an original interpretation by renowned artist Camille Rose Garcia that artfully combines wit and dark romance. 

Ms. Garcia's (gorgeous illustrated, laid out and printed!) book is available through Amazon HERE.

 I also recently came across this article about Ms. Garcia and her reworking of the newly released Snow White book thought I'd share. Orange County (Los Angeles) is rightly proud of this underground artist's success and the Los Angeles Times posted an interview with her just this week.

From the LA Times:
Garcia, when deciding on her tone and text, looked back to the Brothers Grimm’s 1812 version of the story but, having grown up near and in Disneyland, she also couldn’t resist the tug of the classic 1937 animated feature film. “I did look to Disney’s animated ‘Snow White’ as the watercolor backgrounds were especially beautiful,” Garcia said. “I wanted to reference Walt Disney’s style but bring in the creepy Germanic folk-tale element.”
The latter explains why, in this version, the Evil Queen devours  Snow White’s lung and liver in one passage — or, more precisely, she believes the organs that she’s snacking on belong to Snow White. Garcia’s dark-tinged retelling of the classic is in the spotlight with an exhibit at the Michael Kohn Gallery in Beverly Hills that runs through April 14. On Thursday, Garcia will be at the gallery for a 6-8 p.m. signing event and in the weeks to come she’ll be on a book tour with stops already announced for San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Ore.
You can read the whole article which details more of her artistic influences HERE.

For those interested in her Betty Boop meets Tammy Faye Baker style and who no doubt see other classic "old world" cartoon influences in her work and would like to know more, here's a video of Ms. Garcia working on some of the paintings for the book. When you see her skill in working with lines it's easy to see how she became an underground art darling who transitioned wonderfully to the respected art world. Her paintings have been shown internationally, she's been published in a variety of well known magazines and she now has works in several mainstream galleries:
There is a new book coming out in August on s. Garcia's art titled Mirror, Black Mirror. The official blurb gives us quite a bit of insight into why this artist paints as she does:
Camille Rose Garcia & her new book
Mirror, Black Mirror, chronicles the prolific and life changing time period of 2007-2011, when Garcia fled the sprawling mecca of Los Angeles, her lifelong home, and moved to a cabin in the woods of Northern California. Living so close to the natural world has given the artist even more insight into the major themes of her work, disenchantment with modern civilization, and the problems of becoming too removed from the natural world. 
Camille Rose Garcia was born in 1970 in Los Angeles, California, The child of a mexican activist filmmaker father and a muralist/painter mother, she apprenticed at age 14 working on murals with her mother while growing up in the generic suburbs of Orange County, visiting Disneyland and going to punk shows with the other disenchanted youth of that era. Garcia's layered, broken narrative paintings of wasteland fairy tales are influenced by William Burroughs' cut-up writings and surrealist film, as well as vintage Disney and Fleischer cartoons, acting as critical commentaries on the failures of capitalist utopias, blending nostalgic pop culture references with a satirical slant on modern society... She recently moved to the Pacific Northwest after 38 years in Los Angeles.
See the whole blurb HERE, which details lots more about her success and where her work has been published and can be seen.

You can see more of her Snow White illustrations HERE and her book is available HERE and HERE.