Friday, March 30, 2012

In this week's news: fairy tale edition

Cross-posted with World Weaver Press' "Books & Pieces" weekly news round-up segment.
A cache of 500 folk tales were discovered in Germany recently, many of which have not been a part of our previously documented understanding of the folk tradition in Europe.  From that trove, the fabulous tale of the "Turnip Princess" -- which could easily be retitled "The Tao of the Turnip" -- the likes of which we've never seen before.

This amazing bit of animation is a beautiful, bloody, Red Riding Hood becomes an interesting twisted-origin story of folk lore's favorite caped crusader.  The short film is titled simply "RED":
RED from RED on Vimeo.

The film puts me in mind of one of Roald Dahl's poems "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf." And if you know Roald Dahl, you know the man had a wicked sense of -- well, of humor most certainly, but he also had a wicked sense of the wicked.

Moving slightly out of the realm of folklore and into the realm of myth, Amalia T. has a fascinating blog post up on the forbidden nature of love poems in ancient Norse society. Apparently, magical ensnarement of women was such a big deal that there were laws against it. Amalia rationalizes the situation, writing:
How can you be sure that a poem is just a poem, and not a spell meant to seduce your daughter and ultimately dishonor her? How can you even be sure that the person writing the poem isn't Odin, for that matter, or worse, Loki, who is also known for shape shifting, come to take advantage of your daughter/sister.
Admittedly, not being seduced by Loki is a good thing -- unless you have a bad boy complex. Dating preferences aside, it's a fabulous example of the power and magic of mere words.

Snow White and the Huntsman looks like it just might be the fantasy film of the summer. The second trailer (below) is awe inspiring. This film promises to deliver what other recent fairy tale adaptations haven't: a plot with folk lore roots that we actually want to see. Red Riding Hood last spring was ... pretty. And admittedly Amanda Seyfried's character showed a surprising amount of agency for what we'd originally pegged to be a film that was just an excuse to shoot a bunch of dramatic looking footage of a red cape against snow. And while I'll freely admit that if I was 17 years-old when that film came out, I'd own the DVD right now, the truth is Red Riding Hood didn't appeal much beyond teenagers and scholars of little red cap tales.

And even though it's hard to buy that Kristen Stewart is, or ever will be, more beautiful than Charlize Theron, the special effects are cool enough and the plot dark enough that we're willing to forgive such things. More forgiveness is found when the extended sneak peek (!) has a nice little flashback snippet of dialog between Snow White-as-girl-child and the now-dead Queen-her-mother, wherein the Queen tells her daughter that her fairness lies "in here," and then pats the girl's heart. Oh, so that's what you meant? Gotcha.

**Late addition: Frog/Prince” a short story up on Daily Science Fiction (an online sf/f magazine) today is an marvelous little tale about what it means for a frog to become a prince or a prince to become a frog. Clever and heartbreaking. Well worth the read.

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