Dark side to well-known le­gend

Change of tone on trend: Cin­ema in­creas­ingly trans­form­ing chil­dren’s sto­ries into thrilling adult fan­tasies

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFESTYLE - SYLVIE MAGERSTAEDT THE Nutcracker and the Four Realms Grimm Win­ter’s War of Thrones Witch Hun­ters Sab­rina, The Broth­ers Snow White and the Hunts­man The Hunts­man: The Lord of the Rings Game Hansel & Gre­tel: The Chilling Ad­ven­tures of Cin­derella,

opens on a som­bre note: the Stahlberg chil­dren face “their first Christ­mas with­out their mother”. It’s a cu­ri­ous twist which ap­pears nei­ther in the orig­i­nal fairy­tale by E.T.A. Hoff­mann nor Tchaikovsky’s fa­mous bal­let.

Hero­ine Clara Stahlberg (Macken­zie Foy), soon faces a whole range of spooky crea­tures – in­clud­ing a won­der­fully creepy He­len Mir­ren as Mother Gin­ger – bent on de­stroy­ing the mag­i­cal realms her late mother cre­ated.

But this change of tone is right on trend. For the past decade or so, cin­ema has in­creas­ingly trans­formed well- known chil­dren’s sto­ries into chilling adult fan­tasies.

Terry Gil­liam’s 2005 film

ex­plored the dark re­al­ity and some­times hor­ror be­hind the fa­mil­iar sto­ries.

(2012) and its fol­low up,

(2016) aimed to draw on the pop­u­lar­ity of ac­tion-fan­tasies such as

(2001-3) and the epic TV drama (2011-19).

(2013) re-imag­ines the epony­mous lost chil­dren of Grimm’s orig­i­nal tale as gun sling­ing pro­fes­sional killers.

We’re see­ing the same sort of thing on tele­vi­sion, too. Net­flix’s lat­est re­lease,

re-imag­ines the pop­u­lar 1990s sit­com, star­ring Melissa Joan Hart as the teenage witch, as “some­thing a lot darker and scarier”.

But what is be­hind this fo­cus on the darker side of fairy tales? If look­ing closely at the core of most of th­ese sto­ries, we re­alise that they al­most al­ways have a rather dark core.

In Grimm’s ver­sion of the ugly step sis­ters mu­ti­late their feet to fit into the golden slip­pers, while the evil queen in is forced to dance her­self to death in red-hot shoes. Yet, for a long time, cinematic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of th­ese sto­ries tended to es­chew the scarier bit and firmly fo­cused on the hap­pily ever af­ter.

Psy­cho­log­i­cal stud­ies on fairy tales have drawn a dis­tinc­tion be­tween myth and fairy tale – not­ing that one has a tragic and one has a happy end­ing. Many of the re­cent cinematic re-tellings of clas­sic fairy tales blur the al­ready shaky bound­aries be­tween myth and magic. This is il­lus­trated nicely in which turns the bal­let’s fight be­tween the Mouse King and the gin­ger­bread sol­diers into

MACKEN­ZIE Foy plays Clara Stahlberg in a dark take on the clas­sic

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