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Posts Tagged ‘fairy tales’

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This (literally) little book is really an essay extolling the virtue and indeed the necessity of children’s fiction. I read it in about 30 minutes, but although it’s short it’s very enjoyable. Rundell makes the point that adults are often ashamed – or made to feel ashamed – about reading children’s fiction, and suggests that we should be proud to read these books that ignite imagination and make readers think. She gives a brief overview of the history of fiction for children and the part about the retelling and passing on of fairy tales was great. If you have a spare half an hour to kill and have any interest in literature, you could do a lot worse than read this.

 

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This film is a very heavily fictionalised account of the lives of the Brothers Grimm, before they became famous for their collections of folk/fairy tales.  Set in French occupied Germany in the early 1800s, Willheim and Jacob (named Will and Jake in this movie, and played by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger respectively) are shown as a pair of conmen.  They make their living performing fake exorcisms and getting rid of non-existent witches and demons.  However, they eventually find themselves having to solve a genuine mystery.  The town of Marbaden has seen the disappearance of a number of young girls recently, and Will and Jake will need all of their cunning and courage to uncover the truth…

This film received a LOT of criticism, and while I think a lot of it was too harsh, I can see why many people would not enjoy it.  On the plus side, the two main leads – Damon and Ledger – are excellent.  Heath Ledger plays the part of the bumbling and nervous Jake to perfection, while Matt Damon ably handles the role of the more cocky and dominant Will.  As with all Terry Gilliam films, there is an explosion of colour and imagination.  There are also plenty of laughs along the way.  I also enjoyed seeing the allusions to many of the stories which the real Brothers Grimm became famous for.

However, the film did start to fall apart a bit about halfway through.  The plot seemed to get a little bit lost and was certainly overlong.  It seemed to move from the surreal and amusing into the ridiculous.  There was some pretty poor CGI as well; while I’m not normally bothered about special effects in a movie, bad effects can drag a film down.  This is certainly not the best film that either Matt Damon or Heath Ledger have ever starred in – and neither is it the best film from the usually excellent Terry Gilliam.  However, I do like the fact that he is never afraid to try something new and different, and the charisma of the two leads was just about enough to pull this movie through and make it a film I enjoyed watching.

Year of release: 2005

Director: Terry Gilliam

Writer: Ehren Kruger

Main cast: Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Lena Heady, Mackenzie Crook

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In a fit of pique, an eight year old girl wishes that her mother was dead, and blames herself when her mother does actually die that night. From then on, our unnamed narrator chooses a life of loneliness and isolation – while she has a job and sees people, she never gets close to them emotionally. Her brother persuades her to move to Florida, where he lives with his wife, and it is there that she is struck by lightning. However, she survives, albeit with some physical conditions brought on by the strike, and hears a story about a man who was struck by lightning, and who died for 40 minutes before coming back to life. She seeks out this man – Lazarus Jones – and discovers that there is fire inside him. Literally. He can set paper alight by breathing on it, and when the narrator has a relationship with him, he burns her when he holds and kisses her. Their relationship is obsessive and intense, but eventually they both reveal the secrets they keep hidden inside themselves.

Unfortunately, while this book is clearly well written, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. The narrator was unsympathetic and I almost disliked her; certainly I stopped really caring what happened to her. I didn’t feel the intensity of the relationship between her and Lazarus, and neither did I believe it. Maybe this was the wrong book at the wrong time for me, but I found elements of the story hard to ignore, or tedious. The narrator’s frequent references to fairy tales grated slightly, and I was unable to suspend disbelief at the more mystical elements of the book. However, on the plus side, the writing did flow easily and was very eloquent in places. There were also some characters in the book which were far more interesting and likeable, such as the narrator’s brother Ned, and her friend Renny. Overall however, this modern day fairytale left me underwhelmed.

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