An Evening of Fairy Tales

I finished watching Pan’s Labrynth and came upstairs to check my email and found that one of you had sent me a link to Neil Gaiman’s “Snow, Glass, Apples.”  That seemed like a pretty big coincidence, but you never know with stuff like that.  What’s coincidence?  What has actual meaning?  It’s up to each interpreter I suppose.

I loved Pan’s Labyrnth and I can’t believe I waited for so long to see it.  But my success with The Devil’s Backbone made me feel like taking a chance on this one.  And so I did and so, as you know, it’s beautiful and amazing and everything you’ve heard.  Like The Devil’s Backbone, it’s subtitled, so if you’re not a quick reader, I guess it sucks, but the thing I thought, as a non-Spanish speaker, that was so good about Pan’s Labrynth is that reading is such a critical componant to the movie that reading along while watching seems like an intrinsic element of the movie.

I keep thinking of these two and The Orphanage as a group, which may or may not be exactly fair.  But the thing that strikes me about all three is how they are movies with children at their center but they are not children’s movies.  Maybe I just don’t watch enough movies, but I’m struck by that.  It seems to me with American movies, if children are at the center of the movie, it’s a movie for children.

I’m also struck by the way, in all these movies, that the supernatural elements might be perceived as scary, but they are never as threatening as the real world events in the movie.  Anyway, I thought it was great.

And I like that Neil Gaiman story, so you should read it.  I’m mulling it over, that retelling of stories we all know.  I wonder how our modern ideas about copyright affect that.  Are there modern characters we all feel are ours so much that we want to configure and reconfigure the elements of their narratives?

I guess we do in movies.  It’s funny.  The other day I was looking for that quote from Ulysseus, the whole “yes I said yes” thing that Molly says at the end of the book and the Wikipedia entry about it says that Kate Bush wanted to use it in a song, but she couldn’t get permission from the Joyce estate.

I ask you, have you ever heard anything so counter to Modernism?  That there should be things off-limits to your reworking?

Anyway, I find that funny.


4 thoughts on “An Evening of Fairy Tales

  1. If you liked those, you should see Victor Erice’s gorgeous 1973 film The Spirit of the Beehive, one of Del Toro’s favorite movies and a huge influence. (He even recreates a shot from it in Pan’s Labyrinth.) It too has children at the center—in fact, it’s one of the most haunting movies I’ve ever seen that shows the world from a child’s point of view. Criterion has a great DVD edition.

  2. The Joyce estate is legendary (among copyright nerds at least – oh and Joyce scholars) for controlling the use of Joyce’s works. It’s one of the examples people give for the problematic aspect of inheritable copyright ownership. It’s not even Joyce himself whose wishes are necessarily being enforced.

    another example (in this case with transferable copyright) is Knopf restricting translation of Simone De Beauvoir (they owned the copyright to the Second Sex), despite her own and numerous others’ problems with the English translation.

  3. The Devil’s Backbone is by far one of my most favorite movies. It makes me wish I understood Spanish so I could comprehend the dialogue as it was written.

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