I think io9 is right to push hard for the idea that if we’re walking back into the woods with the Brothers Grimm, that we should make movies that grapple with the terrors of the originals.
In recent years, we’ve spent a lot of time turning monsters of legend cute or sexy, which is a bit odd. It’s not as if disobedient children in a modern society are at much risk of running away into the woods, as if girls in most communities are endangering not just themselves or their property rights if they’re sexually active before they’re married. But that doesn’t mean that modernity eliminates monsters. And I’d love to see a fairy tale movie with an acute sense of what we fear most, whether it’s a new monster, or an old one.
Fairytales have traditionally been the stuff of fear and terror. It wasn’t until Disney came around and transformed these frightening cautionary tales into happy endings that we started to view fairytales as essentially romances for young children. Different lessons for different times, I suppose.
There have always been happily-ever-after stories, of course, but more often than not fairytales have been used to almost brutally inject common sense and a bit of wisdom into the minds of young children. Indeed, the line between fairytale and ghost story has historically been rather more blurry than it is today. Whether the villain is a witch or a prankster from faerie set on stealing babies from unsuspecting mothers, fairytales taught people to have a healthy fear of things they didn’t understand.
Perhaps modern fairytales can better help us understand the things we fear.
Adult fairytales have the potential to be great vehicles for the inexplicable in human nature. What makes people capable of becoming monsters? Who are the trolls lurking under the bridges of contemporary society? How do we, as a society, treat the unknown and feared? What leads someone to a life as a wicked witch, or a hardened criminal? What do we create when we label someone a monster, or cast them out of society? These and more are all questions that fairytales can help us answer or at least explore.
Whether an action-packed retelling of Snow White will get into any deep thematic questions is another story. But if that still shot of Kristen Stewart up above is any indication, I will be lining up for tickets when Snow White and the Huntsman hits theatres.
Source: Frobes via @PattinsonStew