healyg: (Book Reading)
Here's a neat little curiosity: A short animated film adapting Cinderella from Lotte Reiniger, the creator of the Adventures of Prince Achmed film. (No soundtrack, sadly.)
healyg: (scheming)
Jeez, I've been putting this off for way too long. Alright, from the top, we got:

Film and Fairy Tales, by Kristian Moen, which is a brief history of fairy tale tropes in film, from the French feeries (i.e., 19th Century theatrical spectaculars that partly inspired the English Pantomime), to the works of Georges Melies, to fairy tale silents (e.g., The Blue Bird, the Mary Pickford Cinderella, finally ending with Disney's Snow White and other fairy tale inspired films from the sound era. It's a great look at a forgotten era of fairy tales in the movies, particularly the chapter that takes a deeper look at 1918 the silent film version of The Blue Bird (from a 1908 play by Maurice Maeterlinck). It also has a take on Snow White that I haven't seen before. Highly recommended.

Fairy Tale Comics, edited by Chris Duffy, is an anthology of fairy tales retold by a bunch of comics people you may have heard of, including Craig Thompson (Blankets, Habibi), Emily Carroll (various online horror comics, like His Face All Red), the Hernandez brothers (Love and Rockets), Gigi D.G. (Cucumber Quest), and David Mazzucchelli (Asterios mother-flippin' Polyp). Some of the stories are a little disappointing (for example, I felt Gilbert Hernandez's take on Hansel and Gretel was too dry for me, even though I thought his brother Jaime's Snow White, which is done in a similar style, to be quite charming), but most of them are quite good, and the styles vary widely enough that if one story doesn't grab, the next one will. Standouts for me would be The Prince and the Tortoise, which is drawn by the ever-talented Ramona Fradon, and Graham Annable's Goldilocks and the Three Bears, which has the charming touch of being drawn without dialogue.

The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth (there is a theme this week, can you tell), is a collection of fairy tales that were discovered in Schonwerth's papers in the city Regensburg's archives. They're all really rough, compared to Grimms, Schonwerth's contemporaries; most of the fairy tale collections of the time were heavily edited by the collectors, and Schonwerth didn't really get a chance to do that here. There's a lot of weird, inexplicable crap in this tales, and the plots often feel a bit rushed; few tales go longer than two or three pages in this collection. On the plus side, the bawdy, jokey tales in the collection come off fairly well, being a little longer on average than most other tales, and also built on such timeless jokes such as strong, foolish oafs making a mess outta everything and folks murdering the pastor's mother and all the good peasant classics. If you see it at the library, maybe check it out?
healyg: (Healslime)
Currently I'm reading The Golden Age of Folk and Fairy Tales, edited by Jack Zipes. Zipes, in case you didn't know, has translated the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales, edited anthologies of radical and feminist fairy tales, and has written about the fairy tale in history and today, just to name a few of his credentials for this book. It casts a pretty wide net over the folk tale collections of the 1800s to early 20th Century, taking tales from the well-known collections of the Brothers Grimm and Joseph Jacobs, to lesser known collections like Round the Yule: Norwegian Folk and Fairy Tales. The stories are grouped together by theme and ATU classification, with chapters like Facing Fear: ATU 326--The Youth Who Wanted to Know What Fear Is, The Fruitful Sleep: ATU 410--Sleeping Beauty, Evil Stepmothers and Magic Mirrors: ATU 709--Snow White, and Bloodthirsty Husbands and Serial Killers: ATU 955--The Robber Bridegroom, ATU 311--Rescue by Sister Maiden, ATU 312--Maiden Killer; each chapter begins with some analysis by Zipes and a tale from the first two editions of Grimm's folk tales.

If you get well-read enough in fairy tales, you get pretty used to the same motifs and formulas used in fairy tales from around the world; what got me, in reading this collection, is what some tales lacked in terms of the formula. For example, there's a "Snow White" tale in the book that doesn't have the stepmother's revenge (The Vain Queen, from Portuguese Folk Tales), and a "Cinderella" without the teasing from the stepsisters and the being forced to sweep the hearth et al, which makes Cinderella come off as a bit of a jerk (Date, Oh Beautiful Date, from Giuseppe Pitre). And then there's this Rapunzel variant, Parsillette, where the prince goes up to Rapunzel as usual, but the witch/fairy godmother figure catches them running away, and she makes Rapunzel ugly and kills the prince somehow, I think. Later Rapunzel apologizes and the godmother makes her pretty again. I just don't know.

Anyway, it's a very good book, all the stories are entertaining and Zipes has some good insights. I might write a few treats for the tales that were nominated in [livejournal.com profile] once_upon_fic, like "The Robber Bridegroom" or "Vasilisa the Beautiful". We'll see.

Next time, on Currently Reading Wednesdays Somedays: I skipped a comics-related book this week, so I might do that next time. And I'd also like to dig into a book about religion sometime, considering it's Lent and all. Then there's IF, again; Parser Comp games are out, but I'd really like to review them outside of Currently Reading Wednesdays. Who knows?


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