FILMS… Three Adored Fantasy Films

#1990s #2000s #2010s

 

Lose yourself in three flights of movie fantasy…

 

My first Wandering Through the Shelves for June 2022 takes you to an amphibian man, a Disney princess and fairies.

 

 

This is the next of my 2022 posts for this weekly entertainment themed challenge from Wandering Through the Shelves.  For my first post for June, the challenge was to pick three of my favourite films in the fantasy genre.

More about this blog’s 2022 blogging challenge is found HERE and this page also includes the blogger’s final challenge for this month and for the rest of this year, if you are now keen to join this fun collaboration. The challenge is,

…. a weekly series where you share your movie picks each Thursday. The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them.

All my weekly contributions for 2022 are found HERE…  and my and others’ contributions for this particular topic are HERE. Please note I will be adding all links to this collaboration as I get them.

The three films I’ve selected to illustrate this topic are all fantasy films with a touch of romance in the tale and are The Shape of Water (2017), Enchanted (2007) and Photographing Fairies (1997).

 

The Shape of Water (2017)

THE SHAPE OF WATER | Official Trailer | FOX Searchlight, SearchlightPictures

Once upon a blogathon, I was captivated by a review on Crimson Peak (2015) and its on-screen love story. Then with so many films on my radar, I forgot about it until I reviewed Guillermo del Toro The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work (2021) by Ian Nathan. This book convinced me that del Toro, writes and directs horror films with a heart and therefore more of my kind of movie. 

So after watching and adoring Crimson Peak -and then actively adding it to my review list, Darlin Husband suggested we watch The Shape of Water (2017). He sold it for three reasons.. his wee wife’s new love of Del Toro films (I REALLY didn’t get into those Hellboy films) and he also billed it as a Cold War love story. I was also keen to see Michael Shannon in another role after seeing him in the excellent The Little Drummer Girl (2018). This was even though this John Le Carre TV adaptation had the now omnipresent and annoying Florence Pugh.

The Shape of Water I watched til what I thought was the end, but on a rewatch had missed a crucial addition so I insist you watch it until the end of the credits. The plot tells of a mute girl, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who is discovered as a child with scratch marks on her neck, next to a river. She is mute and we learn she communicates only using sign language. 

In 1962, Elisa has grown up. She’s quite shy, timid and into film musicals. She has just two friends, Giles (Richard Jenkins) and a co-worker, Zelda (Octavia Spencer). Elisa and Zelda work as cleaners in a top secret lab in Baltimore, run by the CIA, headed by Colonel Strickland (Shannon). 

One day these men bring in a top secret discovery, an Amphibian man (Doug Jones). Over time Elisa and the amphibian man grow close, she teaches this creature sign language, and they develop a deep friendship. She also feels accepted as a person for the first time in her life, by this non-judgmental creature and then they fall in love.

But in all fairytales are the bad guys and good guys… Strickland wants to vivisect the creature and use it to win the Space race. Also, there is a Soviet spy in the midst, who wants to keep it alive but is then given orders by his Soviet handlers to kill it…

Elisa plans to help this creature return to the wild with the help of her friends. So after they successfully rescue it with the help of the undercover Soviet, she keeps it in her home with the plan to return it to the wild, when the timing is right…

This film totally sold me on Del Toro as a filmmaker, and it’s a tale that he wrote with screenwriter, Vanessa Taylor. Del Toro was inspired by the film, Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) for this movie’s plot. Imdb adds HERE more about Del Toro’s casting for this film adding del Toro said he had Sally Hawkins and Michael Shannon always in mind for their roles, stating,

“Not only was she the first choice, she was the only choice. I wrote the movie for Sally, I wrote the movie for Michael [Shannon]… Sally is — I wanted the character of Elisa to be beautiful, in her own way, not in a way that is like a perfume commercial kind of way. That you could believe that this character, this woman would be sitting next to you on the bus. But at the same time she would have a luminosity, a beauty, almost magical, ethereal.”

The romance is told in a non-offensive way and is beautifully told in the touching and credible screenplay and in stunning and convincing scenes. It’s a fairy tale from the Cold War era and a more original and touching love story that deservedly swept the Oscar nominations with thirteen nominations at the 90th Academy Awards. 

 

Enchanted (2007)

Enchanted (2007) – Official Trailer, Movie Trailer World

This film starts with animated sequences. In these, the evil Queen Narissa of Andalasia becomes more than a bit peeved after her plan for keeping her place for the kingdom’s throne backfires. She is usurped in her role, as her stepson Prince Edward meets, falls in love and plans to marry his true love, Giselle as seen in the opening fairytale scenes. This means he will now become King.

On Giselle and Edward’s wedding day, the evil Narissa in disguise as an old crone pushes Giselle into a wishing well before she can take her vows and marry Edward. Giselle resurfaces literally from a pothole in modern-day New York… as the live-action scenes begin for this fish(es) out of water story.

Later that night, Giselle (Amy Adams) then meets cynical widower and single dad, Robert Philip (Patrick Dempsey) and his wee daughter, Morgan (Rachel Covey). Philip feels that Giselle is very innocent, naive and vulnerable, and this is seen and heard as despite this transformation she still thinks, speaks and acts like a Disney film character.

He invites her to stay at this home with his wee family at Morgan’s insistence. Giselle meets Robert’s girlfriend and intended fiance, Nancy (Idina Menzel) the morning after. After getting the wrong idea about Giselle and Robert, Nancy dumps him.

However more love complications arise throughout the film, as Robert falls in love with this Disney princess who comes with benefits. This is as Giselle can tidy his flat with the help of wild animals, and she has a song for every occasion. In time, her eternal optimism and sunny outlook on everything and anything rub off on him.

Also, the incredibly nice but dim, Prince Edward (James Marsden) arrives in New York to rescue and find his true love. Back in the animated world, Queen Narissa then dispatches her henchman, Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) to try and stop Prince Edward and Giselle from reuniting… and then Narissa (Susan Sarandon) herself joins these live-action scenes. And you could say she’s a bit of a dragon…

Enchanted is a musical homage and parody to Disney’s earlier films in this live-action and animated treat for all ages. You will recognise more references to fairytale and Disney characters than you did with film musicals in The Beautician and the Beast (1997). This film has the actors and actresses both providing the voices of the animated characters and then being seen in live-action scenes. 

These characters are made believable in their performances by this stellar acting cast. Marsden proves a comic delight and he hams up his dialogue appropriately. Dempsey acts like a regular guy who discovers he’s stuck in a Disney movie. Jennifer Wood’s interview with the director, Kevin Lima HERE in MovieMaker, he tells how Amy Adams easily won the role of Giselle. This was as

… looking like a princess was but a scratch on the surface of what she brought into the room that day. Her commitment to the character, her ability to escape into the character’s being without ever judging the character was overwhelming.

The characters are made more credible with some fantastic costume designs. The script reflects and convinces you of the differences between these two very different film worlds. Giselle and Edward’s fairytale ideals, traits and beliefs often clash with real life in modern New York, with Giselle seeming vulnerable, and Edward more comical.

As the Andalasian characters come to life and New York there are some wonderful and credible moments as these two very different worlds collide. My favourite scenes are when that more naive fairytale character discovers that she’s in a world where they learn that singing, dancing and fairytale dialogue are not the norm. But this still leads to an all singing, all dancing musical number. But as a clash of cultures film, it’s one for all the family, in a far from the usual Disney predictable fairytale storyline…  

 

Photographing Fairies (1997)

Photographing Fairies – GOOD fan trailer, SPHSPHSPHSPH

This period drama film blends real life facts with fiction, as it explores a fantasy storyline combined with the real life “discovery” of the Cottingley Fairies. The reality in the film tells how in 1917, two young girls were photographed with what appeared to be fairies while they played in their garden. These photographs were so convincing that the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer believed in this hoax and was convinced about their authenticity.

However – and not explored in this film plot – the Cottingley Fairies was later discovered to be a hoax. Although one picture is still argued by one of the girls to be of real events. Photographing Fairies may seem like a kids’ film, but this film challenges the veracity of the photographs in a more adult means. The themes of this film are listed HERE on Wikipedia,

themes of folklore, such as possession, paganism, animism, hallucinogens, parapsychology and fairies

It starts as the (fictional) protagonist, Charles Castle (Toby Stephens) and his new bride Anne-Marie become lost in a snowstorm in Switzerland, the day after their wedding day. In tragic scenes, we watch as she falls down a crevasse, he loses her grip on her hand and she falls to her death.

Later during World War I. he is a war photographer and has a job taking photographs of corpses. On one occasion, after he returns to the trench, a shell explodes. After the war, and is still a photographer Castle and his colleague specialise in taking family photos with the recently deceased added into family photos. 

At a talk from the passionate spiritualist, Arthur Conan Doyle, Doyle tells of his new belief in the validity of photographs of fairies taken with the Templeton girls. Castle is present and he cynically and publicly debunks them.

Castle is later visited by the Templeton girls’ mother, Beatrice (Frances Barber). She shows him a photo with her daughter and what she believes is a fairy and he’s a wee bit sceptical. After he can’t explain the validity of this photograph, this then convinces him to come to Cottingley to see these “fairies” for himself.

He then travels to Birkenwell and meets the girls from the photos, Ana (Miriam Grant) and Clara (Hannah Bould). Beatrice tells him that she has seen the fairies for herself, and arranges to meet him at the tree these fairies were spotted in. But when he goes to meet her, he discovers her lifeless body… 

This is a film that my Darlin Husband recommended to me and it’s a beautifully filmed but tragic story. It was based on the book, Photographing Fairies by Steve Szilagyi, and it should be stressed that this film version does not tell the truth about the real-life family. But even to tell you more about the book would also reveal a major part of this film adaptation.

At one time, Richard Gere showed an interest in this as a film project. The film also features Ben Kingsley in a role as the girls’ father and some scenes which I believe may be seen as disturbing for young children. These include scenes which suggest that the fairies appear after eating a hallucinogenic flower found in the woods. Scenes also show the protagonist eating this flower, and a scene recreates how the after effects seemed to alter his perception.

Another film about the Cottingley fairies was released the same year named, FairyTale – A True Story. It also features Conan Doyle and also Houdini. I’ve yet to see this version of the events… and Moria’s site HERE differentiates these films more fully.  He suggests Photographing Fairies s more reminiscent of Altered States and adds,

and adds their thoughts about FairyTale – A True Story tells

the story with banal, child-like wonderment…

But both films, seem to be ingenious in answering the question from Peter Pan, as you question if you do believe in fairies…

Finally, other notable fantasy films reviewed here include About Time (2013), Back to the Future (1985), Charlotte’s Web (1973), Chances Are (1989), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), City of Angels (1998), Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), Dreamscape (1984), Dune (2021), Kiss Me, Goodbye (1982), The Lake House (2006), The Man with Rain in His Shoes (1998), The Man With Two Brains (1983), Mars Attacks (1996), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), The Pirate Movie  (1982), Quest for Love (1971), Somewhere in Time (1980), Stardust (2007, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009), Time After Time (1979), Willow (1988), Xanadu (1980) and Your Highness (2011).

It certainly it appears with all these films, could easily be an entry for a Riker’s beard moment for Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek the Next Generation (1987-94). This is in his TV series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (1997-92) where he took over this mystery show from James Brolin (without his beard). In this series, you decide which of four or five dramatised stories are true or false then the truth is out there, and the truth is revealed by Frakes with a glint in his eye… after some serious beard-stroking…

And check out all my weekly contributions for 2022 are all found HERE…  

 


Don’t forget to read the other contributions for this topic on Wandering Through the Shelves link up HERE.

And tune in on June 23 for this post on my three favourite movies with a post about Three Movies Set on Islands.


 

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