This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Everyday life meets make-believe in fairy tales and films
(or) How to find fairyland in your own backyard By Ivy R. Roberts
Copyright, 2005 Ivy R. Roberts All Rights Reserved
A s children, we all hear fairy tales and read
our lives into them. But we also want to see and realize our lives as virtual fairy tales even as we grow older. We never abandon fairy tales. So it is not by chance that the fairy-tale film has become the most popular cultural commodity in America, if not the world.1 -- Jack Zipes, Happily Ever After Did you ever want to be Dorothy Gale? Everyone at some point wants to be swept away from the life they know. We don’t want to be in Kansas, but in Oz. Narratives transport us to exotic and faraway places. However magical or realistic the narrative journey may be, it is the most powerful escape because it includes the temporary relief of everyday circumstance in order to indulge in an imaginary adventure. The fairy-tale film creates its magical world in relation to the real world so that viewers can see the story’s possible applications to everyday life. Through the representation of utopia, the fairy-tale film projects the real world into an otherworld so that we may reflect on necessary questions pertaining to the nature of reality and its boundaries: what is real, what is home, what is my dream and how can it come true?: “Folk and fairy tales have always spread word through their fantastic images about the feasibility of utopian alternatives.”2 Should we try to see utopian qualities in America or should we continue returning to our imaginations as an escape? The fairy-tale film offers hope that reality has the potential to become like utopia. Fairy-tale form and ideology allow the integration of cultural and sociopolitical issues into a seemingly innocent package. The Wizard of Oz has
become a classical American film because it shows the possibility of a utopian otherworld while embedding relevant socio-political issues. On the surface, however, it presents itself as a daydream. While The Wizard of Oz can be called a fantasy, it is also revolutionary in its depiction of American society and the search for home in the utopian land of Oz: “Oz relieves our anxiety by presenting utopia as attainable. Dorothy says once she returns to Kansas, “if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look further than my own back yard.” While we may need to search for Oz from time to time, while we may need reassurance that it does exist somewhere, we must remain content that we can find everything we need and want in Kansas. Is America (or the real world) our home or do we really belong in Oz? “Just as we know – almost intuitively – that a particular narrative is a fairy tale when we read it, we seem to know immediately that a particular film is a fairy tale when we see it… It is almost as though it were natural for fairy-tale films to exist because fairy tales are so much a part of our cultural heritage as oral and literary tales.”3 Fairy tales have been a part of film since the invention of the moving image. Once human beings realized the ability to reconstruct reality in the cinema they have projected their imaginations into it. The medium of film allows the imagination to come alive in a realistic manner; through film our dreams come to life. Georges Melies’ Voyage to the Moon was perhaps the first fairy-tale film because of its visualization of impossible magical events. The early 20th century gave us a plethora of fairy-tale adaptations, such as The Thief of Bagdad, Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, King Kong, Lost Horizon and The
Wizard of Oz. Only recently have the films been considered a genre of their own, because aspects of the fairy tale can be found in a variety of places. The fairytale classics return again and again in different guises: Beauty and the Beast (Scott’s Legend, Edward Scissorhands), Cinderella (Ever After, Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Pretty Woman, Ashpet), Snow White (Snow White: a Tale of Terror, Disney’s Snow White) and Alice in Wonderland (Dreamchild, Jan Svankmejer’s Alice). Do we indulge in films to retreat from reality? If so, what do we find in films that we cannot find in everyday life? Fairy-tale films have sought to explain social realities through allegorical representation. In these films we engage in a seemingly innocent, fantastical otherworld in order to learn something new about the real world. We do not merely cut ourselves off from real life for a few hours to watch fairy-tale films. In these films we engage in alternative otherworlds with real life connotations so that we may learn how to perceive our lives differently. Taking into consideration the comparative works of folklorist Max Luthi, fairytale scholar Jack Zipes and historian Robert Darnton, I will attempt to show the relationship between the fairy-tale film and everyday life. Through the representation of impossible events, of wish fulfillment and its visualization of magical otherworlds, the fairy-tale film opens up alternative avenues of thought for its viewers. From this created, imaginary world we return to our everyday lives with new perspectives and possibilities for change, which the fairy-tale form inherently offers.
Fairy Tales and Reality The folktale transforms the world; it puts a spell on its elements and gives them a different form, and thus it creates a world with a distinct character of its own.4 -- Max Luthi, The European Folktale The fairy tale, considered as a narrative genre, maintains certain characteristics that bind the corpus together. The fairy-tale form creates a genrespecific world. The form is useful to modern writers because of its specific techniques and style. The beauty, simplicity and magic inherent in the fairy-tale form draw audiences and narrative artists alike. The traditional fairy-tale form focuses the world, creating it anew, while integrating magical elements. Folklorist Max Luthi notes the striking contrast made by juxtaposing the real and non-real in the fairy tale as follows: The magical, wondrous phenomena which have given the fairytale of magic its name are also potent spots of color in the midst of a plot containing many realistic elements. The fairytale of magic and wonders, as has often been established, is in no way a wild world of wonder stuffed full of supernatural happenings. Most of its props are of the worldly sort, most of its happenings possible in reality. Thus the individual places in the narrative where things occur that are foreign to reality stand out more prominently precisely because of the power of quantity contrast. The mixture of much reality and starkly nonreal accents is a mark of the fairy tale as a genre and also as a work of art.5 The fairy tale allows for the existence of an otherworld within the domain of a knowable reality. The fantastic elements so widely loved in magic tales give the genre its power and attraction. In the fairy tale, fantastic occurrences arise intermittently as contrast, letting the magic ooze into the real setting. Cocteau’s Orpheus and Wenders’ Wings of Desire, for example, place their extraordinary
events within the context of everyday reality. The real and non-real contrast in the films; they seep into each other so that the magical becomes a little more real and the real becomes magical. The fairy tale offers both escape from reality and an answer to how reality could be better in light of a utopian vision. Gilliam’s Brazil and Burton’s Edward Scissorhands envision heightened worlds imbued with socially relevant material so that their viewers may be able to gain perspective on their own social environment. Fairy-tale scholar Jack Zipes pioneered the socio-political interpretation of the genre; he remarks that by offering perspective to social reality, the fairy tale has historically allowed revolutionary ideas to proliferate within the genre.6 In this way, the fairy tale can offer storytellers and listeners a form to convey socio-political ideas and propose alternatives. These utopian visions are based on qualities fundamentally lacking in the real world. Listeners of the oral tales and viewers of the fairy-tale films may imagine how the real world might be changed if these qualities were somehow reintegrated into the real social fabric. Many diverse groups through history have found the fairy tale’s abstract form useful for their own means. The fairy-tale form allows for the widest content and diverse meaning. Folk and fairy tales work in much the same was as a genre; they have a particular style, flexible form and distinctive way of creating their worlds.7 Folklorist Max Luthi argues, “the folktale’s many prohibitions and strict conditions contribute in no small way to the elaboration of its precise style.”8 Luthi’s fairy tale presents a simplistic world, stripped of complexity because of its
isolation, sublimation and abstraction. The fairy tale’s abstract form allows for its potential use by many narrative artists. The form offers a distinct way of looking at the real world: “Whatever in the real world is bound in a complex net of interdependencies and reciprocal ties appears in the folktale in its ultimate isolation and capacity for universal interconnection.”9 In this way the fairy tale offers a specific worldview, which allows writers the elasticity of its style as well as the rigidity of its form. While folklorists and psychologists have recourse to deconstruct the fairy tale to find metaphors and symbols, Historian Robert Darnton’s approach is quite contrary. Darnton reads the tales literally, saying they were rooted in the lives of peasants. His study of tales, focusing on 18th century France, argues for the folktale as a direct mirror to society and crisis: “Far from being the arbitrary figment of some collective imagination, [the folktale] expresses the common basis of experience in a given social order.”10 For Darnton, the folktale serves as an historical artifact so that we can understand the mind and social climate of the era: [The peasants] tried to make sense of the world, in all its booming, buzzing confusion, with the materials they had at hand… The peasant tellers of tales did not merely find the stories amusing or frightening or functional. They found them ‘good to think with.’ They reworked them in their own manner, using them to piece together a picture of reality and to show what that picture meant for persons at the bottom of the social order.11 The peasants of 18th century France found the fairy-tale form useful as a way to extract meaning from their everyday life. Similarly, this scenario can be found in many different periods in which the folktale experienced a restoration.
Dissociated from the common world, listeners of the tales find themselves transported to the utopian worlds created by the imagination. In these magical environments they find themselves again, transformed; the tools they find in the fairy tale’s otherworld return with the listeners to apply to their real lives. Use of the fairy-tale form today allows viewers, listeners of readers to visit an otherworld and to glean meaning and relevance from its compilation of real life themes and conflicts.
The Wizard of Oz and the American Dream
The Wizard of Oz, based on L. Frank Baum’s children’s novel, is a classic example of the fairy-tale film. The film begs its viewers to question the real world in relation to utopian alternatives; is Kansas really home? Dorothy’s overactive imagination allows her to experience the alternative to home in the form of Oz. The story works on a variety of levels; while it can be interpreted as a revolutionary political allegory, it is also a reaction to the failed promise of the American Dream. The socio-political connotations allow viewers to apply the film’s message to the real world. While the film affirms the value of the imagination, it also villainizes indulgence in escapist longings. The oxymoronic message of the film speaks to the ultimate necessity of the fairy tale and its function to the individual. The Wizard of Oz reassures our longings to retreat into the otherworld. It stresses, however, that reality is where we belong. While the departure may be desirable, the return is what counts. Dorothy appreciates home only once she is distanced from it. She realizes the real world can be beautiful and full of adventure. She says: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look further than my own back yard. And if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.” The magical world exists to give Kansas perspective. The Wizard of Oz ends on a unique note: “there’s no place like home.” While the film spends the majority of its time evoking the magic of Oz, the ending in fact reassures that reality is our home. Jack Zipes decodes Oz as “a specific American utopia, which may appear to be a contradiction in terms, for a utopia is
no place. But Oz is a place and a space in the American imagination, and as such it embodies that which is missing, lacking, absent in America.”12 O z functions as an escape from American life because it embodies that which is lacking in America. This is why Americans feel the need to go there. The overarching theme of the film asserts that, while we may have recourse to indulge in magical otherworlds, we must ultimately stay in the real world. Oz exists to bring the meaningfulness of Kansas to fruition. Had Dorothy stayed she might never have come to the realizations she had in Oz. The relief of the return justifies Dorothy’s quest for home, her desire to get swept away, and her wish to transcend the rainbow. Only with this passage can she come to the understanding that Kansas is where she belongs. The film, however, paints Kansas in dismal black and white. It is a terrible place, a place in which we would shudder to think of making a home. If we must, according to the film’s morals, remain in reality, couldn’t that reality be a little less bleak?: Anyone who has swallowed the scriptwriters’ notion that this is a film about the superiority of ‘home’ over ‘away’…would do well to listen to the yearning in Judy Garland’s voice, as her face tilts up towards the skies. What she expresses here… is the human desire of leaving, a dream at least as powerful as its countervailing dream of roots. At the heart of The Wizard of Oz is a great tension between these two dreams… In its most potent emotional moment, this is unarguably a film about the joys of going away, of leaving the grayness and entering the color, of making a new life in the ‘place where there isn’t any trouble.’13 While the film stresses that we must remain in reality and that our wishes can be fulfilled “in our own backyard,” it also expresses our dear wishes for escape. The choice is left to the viewer. One may wish to live eternally in Oz, or one might
agree to the magical elements and the wish-fulfilling qualities of reality. Dorothy, having experienced the wonders of the magical world of Oz, accepts her reality. Viewers, however, may disagree. We must, then, turn to our imagination to fulfill our wishes since the materialization of an otherworld in the real world is just as likely as it would be to travel “over the rainbow.” While in the real world it may be impossible to teleport to Oz in a tornado, we have our imagination. The power of the imagination allows us to see the otherworld; we are able to transport ourselves (our minds, that is) to the otherworld to momentarily find what we seek. In fairy-tale films we see otherworlds visualized and magically realized. We vicariously experience our transportation into the otherworld of our imagination. Dorothy reveals the Wizard of Oz to be a fake whose magic is deception made possible through the manipulation of science and technology. His gifts are simplistic, rational, and not entirely worth the trip. Though the phrase “it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey itself,” answers the ineffectuality of the Wizard’s power, it does not help the fact that Dorothy’s salvation rests in illusion. His gifts, “objects of self-delusion,” account for both his lack of magic and his belief that self-confidence will solve all of your problems.14 Imagination may not be able to save you, but it can give you hope. The fulfillment of your wish may not, in the end, be enough to make you happy; it can, however, uncover the answer that has lain all the while within yourself. This general life-affirming moral denotes a primary quality of the fairy-tale film. The answers to our desires lie within ourselves and our flights of fancy only reassure that reality is where we belong.
Returning, we find, much as Dorothy did, that reality is all the better because of our momentary release: “Its underlying story penetrates straight to the deepest insecurities of childhood, stirs them and then reassures them. As adults, we love it because it reminds us of a journey we have taken.”15 This journey is one that any imaginative person must take in order to see the wonderment, along with the security, of home. The Wizard of Oz also functions on allegorical levels. It can be interpreted as a political parable: “It reflects to an astonishing degree the world of political reality which surrounded Baum in 1900.”16 In his essay “The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism,” Henry Littlefield examines L. Frank Baum’s book and its relation to the turn-of-the-century political movement. Littlefield proposes that Baum embedded a social allegory under the guise of a fairy tale. Baum’s use of the form and its wide popularity supports the fairy tale’s dualistic application. Appealing to children, the story taps the imagination. Littlefield’s analysis deconstructs Baum’s book rather than the 1939 film. While the film stresses certain themes and morals over others, a good part of the social allegory was lost in translation. However, it would be nearly impossible to hide the Wizard’s ineptitude and the implications of his inability to perform his job, for his actions function as key elements in the plot: The Wizard, a little bumbling man, hiding behind a façade of paper mache and noise, might be any president from Grant to McKinley. He comes straight from the fairgrounds on Omaha, Nebraska, and he symbolizes the American criterion for leadership – he is able to be everything to everybody.17
The Wizard’s use of illusion and circus-like magician’s tricks shows how our political leaders function in much the same way. The Wizard’s god-like persona propagated by the Emerald City citizens satirizes the power we afford to political figureheads. Through the portrayal of an ineffectual king, The Wizard of Oz subverts our understanding of hierarchy in reality: The fearsome Wizard turns out to be nothing more than a common man, capable of shrewd but mundane answers to these self-induced needs. Like any good politician he gives the people what they want. Throughout the story Baum poses a central thought; the American desire for symbols of fulfillment is illusory. Real needs lie elsewhere.18 While the central theme of the film may be the dismissal of the fantastical world in lieu of reality, the book stresses exactly the opposite. While we use our imagination to conceive of alternatives, those alternatives connote our wishes for what reality lacks. This operation, however, is not constrained to America. It was expressed in the cross-cultural use of the fairy tale form and is still explored today through creative manipulations of storytelling. The Wizard of Oz shows the intrinsic ability of the fairy-tale form to promote social change. The story also elucidates the relationship of an alternative created world to the everyday life of the viewers. In the created world of Oz we find issues relevant to real life. From an excursion in Oz we may return with a new perspective to shed light on socio-political issues. According to Jack Zipes, “Americans kept returning to the Oz material not because of the American myth but because of the promises that America as a nation has failed to keep. Oz is the utopia that exposes the myth of America as a land of the free and brave as lie.”19 In Oz, Dorothy finds a home, and many Americans feel the same. The
popularity of the novel and the film reflects the deep-seated wishes of Americans to find utopia; it was promised as the American Dream but never came to fruition. We need fairy tales for this reason. Through the visualization of utopia, viewers and readers are able to see how their reality might be changed for the better.
The Disney Corporation and the Commercial American Fairy Tale The fairy-tale film survives in the mainstream commercial American industry because of its childlike, beautiful and timeless qualities. Certain writers and institutions, however, have grabbed hold of the form to use it in their own ways. The Disney Corporation, for example, adapts classic fairy tales into animated children’s movies; in the process, however, the stories loose their cultural specificity and much of its embedded meaning. Put on the screen in Technicolor, classic fairy tales (i.e.: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.) convey American ideology, which is peculiar because these tales are anything but American. It should be noted that in contemporary times fairy tales are considered a children’s genre. Modern adaptations of fairy tales, however, seem to neglect the historical use of the form as well as its adult attraction. Today, when writers adapt traditional fairy tales or create new ones, they commonly treat the beautiful stories at face value. The beauty of the stories is not their only attraction, however. In her essay on the contemporary use of fairy-tale form, fairy tale scholar Justyna Deszcz notes that: The author may choose either to duplicate given patterns and ideas, and thus confirm the existing order of the world, or to question and subvert them so as to criticize the dominant forces in the society. This fundamental distinction implies that one can speak of two tendencies within the phenomenon of contamination: on one hand, contamination may mean disfigurement or effacement of the "genuine" character of a given tale; on the other, it may be seen as the fairytale's plasticity and its potential to address social and cultural changes.20 According to Deszcz and Jack Zipes, the traditional role of the fairy tale in society is dual: to reassure individuals and to subvert institutions.21 For individuals, the 14
fairy tale allows the faculty of imagination to flourish, to consider various “what if” scenarios, and to operate without the bounds of reality. For society, the fairy tale allows the artistic manipulation of the concepts to utopia and wish fulfillment in order to question accepted standards. The fairy tale offers consideration of alternatives and possibilities in both applications. Simplistic fairy-tale films often remain on the surface. Their alternate worlds of imaginative creation serve not to reflect reality but explore common, widespread issues of personal growth and ultimately grand conflict. Films such as Legend and The Dark Crystal “fail to capture the charm of the genre precisely because of their expensive completeness, their dogged devotion to approximating a freestanding universe.”22 Ridley Scott’s Legend and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal are epic stories about the struggle between good and evil, visualized as ultimate opposites in black and white; the innocent must struggle against the greedy, power-hungry darkness to restore order in the universe. So cut off from reality, they may be magical and beautiful but they fail to relate their stories to everyday life or to relevant social issues. Fairy-tale films such as these still touch us as adults because of their lingering hold on our imaginations and their quests for simple things (whether balance, happiness or wholeness). The power of these films rests in their visualization of magic and the events unique to their particular stories. The Disney films rely on image over content. While Disney’s vision of utopia may be beautiful, it does not reflect reality. It represents, rather, a place where the American dream might come true:
“The power of Disney’s fairy-tale films does not reside in the uniqueness or novelty of the productions, but in Disney’s great talent for holding antiquated views of society still through animation and his use of the latest technological developments in cinema to his advantage.”23 Their cacophony of color, shape, humor and music asks us to watch but not to think too hard on the content. Disney’s form of entertainment, however, offers little in the way of dealing with the manifestation of personal dreams outside its contained universe. We must think for a second about the “original” tales, their morals and their use in peasant societies. Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), for example, bears little resemblance to the traditional tale.24 Adapting the Grimm’s tales, known for their grotesque imagery and carnage, Disney omits the bloodiness and inserts pristine, balanced shapes.25 In comparison to the “original” Grimm’s tale, Disney’s version installs caricatures: absolute good and absolute evil. Disney also pushes a love between prince and princess absent in the Grimm’s version. In the story collected by the Grimm’s from oral tradition: there was no stepmother. There was no prince. That's right, the princess is persecuted by her own mother, the Queen. The mother tries to kill the daughter, and apparently succeeds, until the father - yes, the King himself - discovers the daughter's preserved body. Enraged, he executes the Queen. Stop and think about the implications for a moment. It's no longer a story about beauty… Here is a mother who is so vain that she tosses family ties aside and tries to murder her own daughter. Even worse, the father's rescue at the end of the tale carries more than a whiff of incest… The idea behind the peasant version, of course, is once again a reinforcement of the old peasant adage: You are never really safe, so be on your guard at all times. You cannot even trust your own parents! This is a stark reality unknown to most of us nowadays, perhaps, but these were vital life lessons for the peasants to survive.26
The story as it exists in the American imagination, made possible by Disney, expands on central ideas of a nuclear family, pure good, and love. Changing the mother into a stepmother severs the familial connection. Disney’s version of the mother dies in childbirth and knows only love for her daughter. All in all, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs strengthens contemporary values of familial unity, parental love and love between man and woman as well as the adage “love will conquer all.” The Disney films and theme parks invite the bored public to indulge in the imagination by offering a simple form of entertainment. Visiting Disneyworld is like having your dreams fulfilled. Disney advertises the fulfillment of wishes knowing full well that it cannot follow through. Disney offers fantasy in the form of entertainment, nothing more. When individuals approximate that offer in the form of real fulfillment, they are asking for the impossible: The Disney industrial empire itself arose to service a society demanding entertainment; it is part of an entertainment network whose business it is to feed leisure with more leisure disguised as fantasy. The cultural industry is the sole remaining machine which has purged its contents of society’s industrial conflicts, and therefore is the only means of escape into a future which otherwise is implacable blocked by reality. It is a playground to which all children (and adults) can come, and which very few can leave.27 The magic and Technicolor of Disney’s concrete utopian theme parks is nothing more than a façade. Disney offers a dream, not a reality. The theme parks and films rely on image and simplicity while neglecting relevance to everyday life; they are an indulgence in the imagination. All we can hope for from entertainment of this type is perspective, inspiration, and insight so that we may change our
situation individually and socially. Disney, however, offers magic in the form of surface beauty, not depth. The ubiquity of the Disney Corporation not only in America but also in the world market enables the films to survive in a mass culture: [Disney] has often been exposed as the traveling salesman of the imagination, the propagandist of the “American Way of Life,” and a spokesman of “unreality.”… The threat [of Disney to third world nations based on its imperialist drive] derives not so much from their embodiment of the “American Way of Life,” as that of the “American Dream of Life.” It is the manner in which the U.S. dreams and redeems itself, and then imposes that dream upon others for its own salvation, which poses the danger for the dependent countries.28 While Disney sells imagination as product, it also sells American capitalist values intertwined. While they cannot be separated, the films, comics, characters and adventures portrayed in Disney products offer the idea of the American dream of life to a world audience. Disney Americanized his fairy-tale adaptations so as to appeal to the time and place of their reception. By introducing American values into the tales, Disney was able to insert the framework of traditional tale types into mass culture. To the mass audience Disney’s Beauty and the Beast holds precedence over Cocteau’s Belle et la Bete and Aladdin over The Thief of Bagdad. Because of their simplicity and childlike nature, the Disney animated films appeal to a wide audience so that the images become embedded and irreplaceable. The tales are now immutable in the mass culture because of Disney’s stranglehold on the fairytale film. The appeal of Disney’s films concerns their innocence and infantilization, which subsequently overthrow even the classic literary tales.
Edward Scissorhands: Beauty and the Beast in Suburbia
The contrast of extreme opposites are used in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (here/there, good/evil, black/white) to strengthen its heightened vision of reality in order to show the possibility of social change. Suburbia, in the film, represents utopian society while contrasting with the other in Edward. The dark amid the light forms a high contrast through which we see their opposition. This basic juxtaposition of opposites, called binarism, is a distinct trait of the fairy tale: When one looks at the fairytale world as a whole, it is the negative amid the positive that stands out, the dark color amid all the magnificence and sparkle: witches, dragons, and plotters; the presence of evil, of failure, of the unsuccessful imitation, for example, which is really not just a foil, but, as the instantiation of a contrastive possibility, something in its own right.29 In essence, all stories are about duality: the opposition between good and evil. Binarism is the simplest way to show difference. Edward embodies the opposite of society. He comes from the dark Gothic Castle on the outskirts of a pastel, uniform community of square houses. While everything in and around the castle is at odd angles, the community is all right angles. Fairy tales continuously oppose good and evil, beautiful and ugly, and weak and strong. Especially in character, the fairytale relies on basic ideas of extreme perfection or extreme moral deceit to define their hero and villain: “Outstandingly good or outstandingly evil human beings are thought to be basically strange and unfathomable, and for this reason they are the subject of story after story.”30 By basing its characters at either end of a moral and visual spectrum, readers automatically make value judgments. It is not difficult to
distinguish the hero from the villain in the fairy tale because of their drastic opposition in all respects (i.e.: the hero may be beautiful, noble, and chaste while the villain is gruesome and wicked). The film tells the story of Edward, the creation of an inventor, who remains incomplete; he was given scissors instead of hands. As an outcast, a social reject, Edward lives alone in the Gothic castle on the edge of a brightly colored suburban community. When the local Avon representative finds him living there, she decides to take him home to live with her and her family. At first the community welcomes Edward, though deformed, for his artistic abilities to shape hedges and even cut hair. Their suspicions, however, prove to be overwhelmingly stronger than their curiosity. The community eventually chooses Edward as their scapegoat, forcing him back into his castle and role as “other” to their society. The film asks us to reconsider out concepts of beauty and innocence and our perception of society, utopia, and community relationship. The depiction of the world in Edward Scissorhands rests on the juxtaposition of pastel cookie cutter houses and the gothic castle on the outskirts of town. Both images are exaggerated from our reality in an attempt to warp the reality of the movie: “When you do a fairy tale you are a little bit at odds with yourself. Because a fairy tale is a romantic version of certain things. Taking something real and heightening it. So what you have is an inherent balancing problem between the real and the unreal.”31 The heightened world is evident in Edward Scissorhands by its visual design. The appearance of the gothic castle
and of Edward justifies the heightening of normality in the film. Suburbia becomes a frightening place, more frightening even than the gothic castle. Edward Scissorhands functions as social commentary. The film attacks the conformity and sterility of suburbia. Suburbia was an attempt at creating a social utopia. Set apart from urban life, suburbia was a getaway, a serene place to raise a family. Many conceptions of suburbia in film, however, distinctly contrast with the ideal. Suburbia is not utopia, but a post-industrial attempt at escape from the city. Suburbia in Edward Scissorhands symbolizes American society rather than functioning as a subset of it. When Edward comes to town they flock to the occasion, interested in the arrival of something new and different. The citizens in it are fascinated with Edward to the extreme. They are both nosey and overwhelmingly inquisitive. When things turn for the worst, however, Edward becomes the scapegoat, symbolizing all that society has to hide, fear and hate. He is their villain, the dreaded other. Edward is the beast to society: “I’m not finished,” he says. His father, the inventor, passed away before giving him human hands. Instead, he has his scissors. Edward is incomplete and unsocialized because of his deformity. Fairy tales rouse different images according to the individual. Tim Burton, creator of the modern fairy tale Edward Scissorhands, finds the spirit of tales in horror films. For Burton, the idea of the fairy tale world is just that – a concept rather than a reality. He relates the image and concept of the fairy tale to symbols more personal to him:
All monster movies are basically one story. It’s ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Monster movies are my form of myth, of fairy tale. The purpose of folk tales for me is a kind of extreme, symbolic version of life, of what you’re going through. In America, in suburbia, there is no sense of culture, no sense of passion. So those served that very specific purpose for me.32 Burton’s personal interpretation indicates the abstract form of the fairytale. Aware of the concept and spirit of fairytales, Burton manipulated the motifs of “Beauty and the Beast” in his conception of Edward Scissorhands. His film taps the fairytale-like spirit by heightening the story world from reality and using binary opposition. The specificity of the folktale genre concerns certain recurring motifs. We see the same motifs, indeed the same stories arise cross-culturally, vouches for the fact that the folktale attracts certain themes and situations over others. The widespread occurrence of tales such as “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” shows a peculiar uniformity of the folktale, its elements and motifs which diverse areas of study have sought to explain:33 As far as the subject matter is concerned, the folktale’s possibilities are essentially unlimited. Certain characters and developments for which it has an affinity occur again and again, either because they embody basic situations or human existence or because they adapt themselves with particular ease to the abstract, isolating style.34 The widespread appearance of consistent situations bolsters the argument that there are only so many stories to be told.35 These stories, however, are powerful because of their meaning. They shed light on intrinsic human qualities, bring meaning to human existence, and touch on innate human tendencies. Fairytales have been used in films in order to tap a cultural meaning as well as the personal creative energy of the artist. Because of their well-known
and widely beloved atmosphere, fairy tales foster a collective willing to return to childhood. This urge has been approached by a number of artists, storytellers and filmmakers in their conception of modern fairy tales: Fairy tales are closely linked to the society which they helped counterpoise, and I believe it would no longer be possible today to write authentic ‘new fairytales.’ The old ones live on, but, the difficulties of the growing child no longer being the same, we must complete them by new stories in which the fairies have so altered their faces that we must give them other names.36 Attempts at creating “modern fairytales” utilize aspects of the development and historical transformation of the form, enlightened by the works of Darnton and Zipes. While society has changed from what it was in the 18th century, the form remains remarkably stable. Manipulation of the form allows for the artist to insert content applicable to current social issues. While the supposed historical meaning of the 18th century fairy tales are no longer literally applicable to our current setting, the form has been tested to be appropriate for the imbedding of socio-cultural meaning. We retain fairy tales today not only because of their embodiment of cultural meaning, but also because of their abstract form. “Once upon a time…and they lived happily ever after”: anything can happen within the frame. The fairy tale’s abstract form allows for any number of motifs and meanings. Max Luthi says, “anything is possible in the folktale.37 His study of the folktale shows its abstract style in that the form allows for any content. The content, then, receives the wonder prescribed to the form: If the fairytale survived many centuries in oral tradition and has vigorously continued to live on for more than a hundred and fifty years in book form, the reason, it seems to me, is to no small degree to be sought in the
freedom which it allows and offers to listeners, readers, and narrators…The narrator is allowed the freedom to discover and realize new variations, new possibilities of development, and new narrative goals.38 The folktale retains its magic even when removed from its traditional setting. Any story applying fairytale elements will tap the fairytale spirit. Since anything is possible within the abstract form the fairy tale allows for flexibility and a wide range of content. The folktale’s abstract form gives freedom to the artist as far as content and meaning while allowing an intrinsic magic of the world to arise. Edward Scissorhands succeeds in applying fairy-tale style and ideology to contemporary social reality. The film relies on fairy tale concepts to convey its content and allegorical levels. The film asks its viewers if American society is as welcoming and wholesome as it may appear to be. The heightened world of Edward Scissorhands allows greater conflict because of its detachment from the real world. Likewise, the setting allows Edward to contrast all the more: the dark amid the light.
Orpheus: Converging Realities
The construction of alternate worlds is a prime characteristic of the fairy tale and the fairy-tale film. In Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus the underworld, lies parallel to reality, showing the closeness of the adventure, mystery and magic found there. Fantastic events occur in the film with remarkable ease, demonstrating the difference between the created world and the real world. The film follows a dreamlike pattern, uncovering the illusions of reality as figments of a poet’s imagination. The abstract use of the well-known Orpheus myth, also, shows that old stories can be renewed. The old stories live on because they have volumes to tell. Cocteau elaborates on the simple framework of the story, gleaning options from its implication. The product, similarly, remains abstract so that the viewer can likewise glean alternative meanings from the work. In Greek legend, Orpheus was the famous poet and singer whose voice could charm anyone who listened. His wife was Eurydice. When his love died, he traveled to the Underworld to convince Hades, the God of the dead, to bring her back to life. Hades’ allowed this on the condition that Orpheus not look at Eurydice until they returned to the mortal plane. Falling prey to temptation, Orpheus faltered and set eyes on Eurydice, who vanished immediately. Cocteau’s version of the Orpheus myth elaborates on the abstract framework of the story. In the film, the Princess, a mysterious and powerful beauty, falls in love with Orpheus, murders Eurydice so that Orpheus will follow her into the Underworld. Heurtebise, the Princess’ chauffeur, helps Orpheus down the path laden with mysteries so that he can reunite with his wife, for in the
mean time Heurtebise has fallen in love with Eurydice. Orpheus succeeds in bringing Eurydice back to life, but, as the myth prescribes, Orpheus’s eyes fall on her and she disappears immediately. Orpheus returns to the Underworld and, with the help of the Princess and Heutrebise, turns back time to unmake the unfortunate incidents. Orpheus and Eurydice are resurrected and the film ends on the question of whether it had all been a nightmare. An opening voice over gives direct reference to the Orpheus myth, citing the basic story. The monologue stresses its timelessness: “Where is our story taking place…and when? A privilege of a legend is to be without age…whatever you think.”39 The film continues to set the abstract story in a definite place and time: 1950’s Paris. Cocteau uses the abstract framework of Orpheus as a skeleton from which to flesh out the story he needed to tell: “[The myth of Orpheus] provides the background on which I embroider. I do nothing more than to follow the cadence of all fables which are modified in the long run according to who tells the story.”40 Cocteau expands and details the simple story, depicting its otherworld as dreamlike and poetical. Stratifying the created world with mystery, Cocteau conveys a multitude of themes abstractly. In the film, reality is juxtaposed with illusion and the dream world with that of the waking. The film represents the dream state as an altered world, one in which passage into the underworld is as simple as donning a pair of rubber gloves and walking through a mirror. Orpheus’ journey is one of mystery, illusion and intuitive succession rather than causality and rationality. Orpheus follows his desire for the impossible on a passionate journey to find a true experience, to
overcome mortality, to engage in the miraculous and intangible poetry of life and death. The dream state in Orpheus enables its impossible events. Orpheus meets the Princess for the first time at the Poet’s Café in the center of Paris. He is immediately attracted to her mysterious demeanor and her bourgeois attitude. Orpheus accompanies her to her home outside town. Once there he recognizes his altered state of mind. When he explains to the Princess this change she replies, “you must be asleep:” Orpheus: Yes…Asleep…It’s very strange…You must explain. Princess: I will not. Sleeping or dreaming, the sleeper must accept his dreams.41 Subsequently, a mysterious message broadcasts over the radio: “the mirror would do well to reflect further.” Orpheus is immediately interested and confused. He then takes a look in a mirror and it shatters. Orpheus then falls asleep in front of a mirror to wake up on a sand dune. Events that would be impossible in reality become obvious and necessary. This first incident incites the dream logic of the film. Occurrences happen in mysterious ways for unknown reasons, heightening the sense of being in a dream. Orpheus begins to blur the division of reality and illusion, unable to distinguish between dreaming and waking. The events follow intuition rather than logic, consequently bringing the audience into a likewise altered dreamlike state. Orpheus conceives of an imaginative otherworld from the perspective of reality. With Orpheus, Cocteau says that the dream world constructed in the film could be a part of reality. Rather than discarding reality all together, as so many films do, Orpheus integrates the non-real into a familiar setting to show the magic
in our everyday world: “The cinema-poet’s first concern should, therefore, be to treat a tale or a legend as an everyday device and to believe in acts of magic as he does in the most routine actions.”42 We all visit the world of dreams nightly. While familiar with the state of mind and the illogical patterns of events in our own minds, Cocteau beckons us to consider Orpheus’ dream world. In the world of dreams, anything might happen. It would seem the closest of the otherworlds, for it resides in our heads, as does the imagination. The dream world, however, remains mysterious because it functions on the rules of intuition rather than logic. The world of dreams remains nearly untapped, for its mysteries cannot easily be deciphered. The otherworld depicted in Orpheus is representative both of the dream world and of the Greek Underworld. The rules of the otherworld in the film follow paradigms correlative to both. While in the film it may be possible to fall asleep in one place to wake up in another, it is also possible to pass through the mirror to arrive in limbo. The dream state of the film allows for illogical events, but follows rules to keep the world consistent. In Orpheus, the otherworld is depicted as a part of the real world. B y basing the narrative in a real place and time, all subsequent action can be interpreted as if it were taking place in the world of common day. Cocteau weaves magic with reality, which effectively reflects the character of folk and fairy tales: “Side by side with the ordinary world exists the otherworld. The frequency with which the folktale makes use of otherworldly motifs is not surprising, for the confrontation with a totally different world is one of the basic concerns of human
existence.”43 In the fairy tale the otherworld is close, tangible and realized. Through the tales we are able to experience the wonders of magic, the impossible and the unbelievable. We willingly suspend our disbelief, as we do when experiencing all narratives, so that the seemingly impossible is absolutely likely. For, as in a dream state, what we wish but rationally know to be impossible can come to being without conscious denial. Taking guidance from the original Greek myth, Cocteau envisions Orpheus as a famous contemporary poet. He imbues the character with the authentic and tangible qualities a man of that fame and statue. Orpheus becomes a real man with a real life, having real connections with the real world. Orpheus is driven by the need to write, which becomes the need to create newness and the need to find originality in a world stripped of poetic reality. Feeling overwhelmed and suffocated by his work, Orpheus searches for new experiences. He becomes infatuated with mysteriously poetic radio transmissions: “The mirror would do well to reflect further,” “the bird sings with its fingers.” The poet’s quarrel with originality is realized in his obsession with the unknown origin of the beautiful and enigmatic phrases. Orpheus says: “My life had passed its peak. I was rotting, stinking of success and death. The least of those phrases is much more than my poems. I’d give all I’ve written for one of those little phrases…I’m on the trail of the unknown.”44 Orpheus’ will to find new experience leads him into unexpected places, to unbelievable experiences. His journey is one of an artist, as if he were a created vision of Cocteau.
Orpheus blends the real and the non-real to question the waking state and the existence of reality itself. Orpheus’ continual dream state in the film allows us to question what is real and to wonder whether the otherworld is really that far away. Cocteau’s reworking of the Orpheus story in the form of a dreamlike fairytale film raises the ultimate question: what is reality? Could reality be a form of dreaming? Is the underworld just beyond the mirror? Perhaps in dreams it is.
Wings of Desire and the Vision of the Eternal Child
The film enchante style is explicitly evocative of the raptures and sufferings of childhood, our childhood… Because it is a fantastic, idealized universe, film enchante might well suggest to us not what we’ve lost in our younger selves, but what we could never have at all, the safe, unfenced, fabulistic world we never knew...45 --Michael Atkinson, “Film Enchante” Wings of Desire maintains a childlike perspective on its events and on the world through the journey of its main character, Damiel. The representation of the eternal child in Damiel shows his innocent perspective on all things: the concrete, the abstract, the real and the illusory. This representation allows the audience to join Damiel, to adopt his perspective in order to view the world repeatedly renewed. The film celebrates innocence and magic and therefore serves as an example of Michael Atkinson’s film enchante genre. Its abstract nature allows for a wide variety of interpretation and instills a timeless, beautiful impression. Wings of Desire tells the story of Damiel, an angel, who desires to be human. In the world of the story, angels walk amid humans listening to their thoughts and offering consolement in the form of touch. As an angel, Damiel acts like an innocent and curious child. While aware of what the real world holds, he remains detached from it. As an immortal ethereal being, he has no body and no connection to time or materiality. In his search for what he lacks, we as viewers are able to realize the grandeur of what we already have. Damiel’s journey leads him to Marion, a trapeze artist. She becomes his link to the physical world as a symbol of corporeality. Damiel’s desire proves powerful enough to grant its reality. With the mere power of will, Damiel becomes human, for angels have the 31
ability to choose. Damiel’s perspective remains innocent when he falls; he continues to view the world as new as he moves through it. Following an extensive search through Berlin, Damiel eventually finds Marion. Damiel achieves both of his goals: to be tangible and to be loved. The simplicity and poetic nature of the film successfully convey the abstract story and its themes. The film relies heavily on the abstract themes expressed through voiceover narrated poems and on its images; very little is told. The film links philosophy and poetry with existential questions, telling the story of an angel who desires to be human. While Wings of Desire is set in reality, the angels are foreign to it. Adopting their perspective situates the viewer outside looking in. The film “attempt[s] to explore the disorientation of human existence through the perceptions of a subject detached from reality.”46 The film’s perspective situates its viewers in an unknown and unexplored place, looking in on what we thought was familiar. While the angels can hear the thoughts of humans, they interpret the inner monologues through a philosophical and spiritual paradigm. To them, humans think in poetry concerning existential dilemma. The outside perspective allows viewers to see a seemingly familiar world turn on its head. The film focuses on the experiences of Damiel and Cassiel. Their world is represented in black and white (the world represented through human eyes is in color). The absence of color shows the angel’s desire for texture, touch, and physicality. Damiel desires to be tangible. To watch a character yearn for what
we already have is to realize what we take for granted. By inhabiting this privileged perspective we realize what we have and how glorious it all is. From the perspective outside reality, the narrative achieves an abstraction from the familiarity of everyday life enabling the viewer to see her own life in a new light: “In Wings of Desire, [co-writer] Handke and [writer/director] Wenders root their language in the religious sentiments of romanticism, which strove to redeem the ordinary world by elevating it to the ideal.”47 The representation of reality in the film slightly skews the familiar, but little more than any other realistic narrative. The difference lies in the choice of language as representative of the inner thought of normal people. The heightened poetic discourse, while allowing interesting philosophical questions to arise, is unrealistic and likewise based on the ideal vision of a utopia sought after. While the everyday world represented in the film remains basically realistic, the privileged narrative perspective rests outside it. The existence of angels in the narrative designates an unrealistic tone, as beings that defy realistic conventions. The separation of the worlds, however, allows for the consistency of tone between them. Wings of Desire allows for the abstraction of everyday life, portrayed realistically, in an attempt to draw the viewer into critical analysis of her own everyday life. The same is applicable to the romantic fairy tale: “The reversal and reutilization of traditional requisites are intended to estrange the reader: to make the familiar appear strange so that the reader will be compelled to take a more critical and creative approach to daily life.”48 Propelled by Damiel’s carnal wishes, the viewer is placed in a situation through which she may see the importance and
novelty of what she already has. She can step back from her life and watch objectively another person in a similar situation. An opening voiceover monologue, which blends poetry with philosophy, sets the tone of the rest of the film. The poem introduces Damiel’s perspective, the frame of which is repeated through the film in different forms to show his development. The poem is spoken over images of Berliners performing simple activities: a man stands outside a bakery, a woman rides a bicycle, a family eats dinner, and a man watches TV: When the child was a child, it was a time of these questions. Why am I me and why not you? Why am I here and why not there? When did time begin and where does space end? Isn’t life under the sun just a dream? Isn’t what I hear see and smell just a mirage of a world before the world? Does evil actually exist and are there people who are really evil? How can it be that I, who am I, wasn’t before I was, and that sometime I, the one I am no longer will be the one I am?49 The poem linguistically strengthens the film’s images. The words give the pictures meaning, enabling the viewer to see the seemingly normal story world in a new way. The deep questions of identity, existence and reality based on the senses proposed in this opening monologue fuel the viewer’s imagination and introduce the privileged character perspective. The repetition of the frame of the poem shows Damiel’s inward journey. When he ponders his existence as an immortal child the poem reflects his state of mind; when he achieves his wish the poem shows his maintained childlike perspective and his enhanced joy in newness. The poem shows Damiel’s consistently childlike perspective. He embodies the philosophical child and his passage, fueled by desire, mirrors a childlike image. His eyes are curious, his
demeanor always exploring. He views the world as always new. He is, in a sense, a man who never grew up. The film allows the verbalization of latent thoughts. These thoughts achieve poetic enunciation. Thought lies latent in our minds. It is never enunciated and thus could take on any form. Hearing the collective thoughts of the Berliners, we understand something more of ourselves. Thought, being the condensed form of language, holds existential value. It is said, “you are what you eat.” Are we what we think? Co-writer Peter Handke’s poetry played a fundamental role in the film’s construction of reality and non-reality: Wings of Desire is a crowning example of [Handke’s] search for otherness in language that distinguishes poetic discourse from the abused verbiage of the everyday world. With this forced artificiality, Handke hopes that language will be able to conjure up the spiritual and mediate transcendence… Such poeticized speech and spiritual exhortation attempt to infuse Wings of Desire with an otherworldly quality, putting it against its images of the everyday.50 Handke says thought is poetry. In reality, since thought remains intangible, we do not hear poetry of thought spouted at every turn. Wings of Desire allows us to see the transcendence of latent thought, the ideas rushing through our heads perhaps never realized. We may verbalize our grocery list and our daily schedule. When asked how we are doing, we say, “okay. I’m fine.” Handke predicates that our latent thoughts are divined when enunciated. Thought, to Handke, perhaps reflects more the unconscious spirit than conscious mind. One of the humans Damiel follows is Homer, the aged poet. His thoughts linger on his storytelling abilities, the power inherent in narration, and the human need for narrative:
Where are you my heroes? Where are you, my children? Where are my own, the curious ones? The first, the original ones? Name me, muse, the immortal singer who, abandoned by those who listened to him, lost his voice. He who, from the angel of poetry that he was, became the poet, ignored or mocked, outside on the threshold of no-man’s land.51 While representative of Homer’s inner thought, his monologue does not correlate to everyday speech. Homer’s thoughts, just as the other inner monologues spoken through the film, show a hidden poetic nature of language. While everyone may not be a poet, Handke supposes that we are all in some way poetic thinkers. The use of poetry in the film heightens the sense of reality, representing the images, which may seem normal and everyday, as lyrical and prosaic. Damiel finds his desire in an earth-bound woman, Marion, at the circus. She swings on the trapeze sporting a pair of angel wings, referred to as “chicken feathers” because of their awkwardness and inability to make her angelic. In the theater full of children, Damiel, having found an object of earthly desire, expresses the loss of his childlike perspective within the frame of the poem: When the child was a child it woke up once in a strange bed and now time and time again. Many people seemed beautiful then, but not so much anymore, only if it’s lucky. It had a precise picture of paradise and now can only guess at it. It couldn’t imagine nothingness and today shudders at the idea. When the child was a child it played with enthusiasm and now with such involvement only when it concern work.52 Once his eyes fall on Marion, Damiel is able to see another perspective, which is reflected in the change of the poem. Marion offers Damiel a link to the physicality and tangibility of the mortal world. In this way Damiel helps us understand the emotional transition from child to adult. We lose our untainted perception in lieu of judgment. We lose the sense of endlessness but gain a fear of inevitable
mortality. We lose the joy felt for simple things. The incarnation of the “when the child was a child” poem emphasizes the loss of innocence on the realization of sexual desire. Damiel’s wish becomes so powerful that it deems the spontaneous possibility of complete physical, mental and spiritual transformation. Damiel achieves his greatest wish by the sole power of will. His transformation revitalizes our belief in the power of the imagination. In reality, we use language and create narrative to fulfill our wishes. The imagination facilitates the possibilities inherent in an endless make-believe universe. Through narratives we see our wishes come true. Walking with his friend Cassiel, he imagines how his first day as a human might transpire. In a triumphant instant it happens; his footprints appear in the sand; the world turns to color. He has become human by the simple enunciation of the wish, as if the Mother Goose rhyme could have the power to transform reality: “Star light, star bright, First star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.”53 Innumerable children, in an innocent fascination with the impossible, have uttered these words with the hope they might come true. Damiel transforms his being spontaneously by thought and will: Damiel’s fall echoes that of Lucifer, though his defection from the divine is expressed not as an evil act (and, of course, in Wenders’ new age vision of spirituality, no God is referred to); rather, his entrance into mortality is provoked by desire and the simple exertion of will, not to power, but to self-realization. The male angel is transfigured by his desire for gender and physicality, human bonding and heterosexual love, and the glories of the everyday.54
According to mythology, angels have the option to fall from grace. This we know from the story of Lucifer. But Damiel’s story is quite different. Unlike Lucifer, Damiel is an emotional being characterized by his childlike nature, his full belief in his wishes, and his will to transform. His self-realization proves both the unlimited possibilities narrative holds to allow the fulfillment of wishes and humankind’s need for perspective on everyday life. Wings of Desire shows Damiel’s reverse transformation from immortal ethereal entity to innocent curious child. After his metamorphosis his childlike desire is lost but his yearning for newness revitalized. He joys in the novelty of humanity. He becomes a different kind of child, having jumped the fence to the greener side. He loses his immortality to gain a physical existence in a body. As an angel, he wanted to touch, to taste, to make eye contact, to make a physical connection, to go about in the world knowing mortality, to perform mundane tasks, to smoke a cigarette with a cup of black coffee, and to walk and breathe. He becomes aware of the plethora of colors, having existed in grey scale. He seeks the newness of taste and touch as he devours a pear. He joys at looking a stranger in the eyes, and the reciprocation. These are the things we take for granted because they are common and everyday. To adopt this perspective in all its newness and novelty makes our everyday experiences new. Damiel, fallen, still portrays the characteristics of a child in his demeanor, his thirst for knowledge and his innocent countenance. He teaches himself to whistle; he seems free of cares; his eyes are wide with curiosity. He states: When the child was a child it lived on apples and bread. That was enough. And is still that way. When the child was a child, berries fell only like
berries into its hand and they still do now. Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw and they still do now. Atop each mountain, it was longing for a higher mountain. And in each city it was longing for a bigger city and it still does. Reached in the treetop for the cherries as elated as it still is. Was shy in front of strangers and it still is. Waited for the first snow and still waits that way. When the child was a child it threw a stick, like a lance, into a tree and it’s still quivering there today.55 While Damiel has changed physically, his spirit and mind remain invariably the same. He retains the childlike demeanor expressed in his desire for humanity, only expressing it in a different form. He is “still that way”: The angels in Wings of Desire, visible only to children and other angels, are adult versions of the children in [Wenders’] earlier films. Given their prominence, they extend and make manifest the spiritual and folkloric dimension already latent in children themselves. They are truly ‘guardian angels,’ compassionate spirits whose job is to protect and even redeem the adults of earth.56 Damiel remains a child but exudes a different kind of innocence. Now that he knows physicality his curiosity focuses on the new experiences associated with it. Damiel is a child in an adult’s body. Because of its representation of the child’s perspective, Wings of Desire prescribes to what critic Michael Atkinson prescribes the film enchante genre, also called the nursery film. In his essay “Film Enchante: Out of the Nursery, into the Night,” Atkinson proposes a limiting to the overarching categorization of the fantasy film genre for the creation of a new sub-genre applying to a style that taps a childlike imagination, returns its viewer to a reminiscent past, and evokes a fantastic quality with its narrative and visualization. In this way, film enchante beckons their viewers to experience the world anew: What distinguishes the nursery film from its numerous nexuses and junctions is their distinctive juvenescence, their ceremony of innocence. To a child, a movie can literally be a heaven, and is no farther from her
grasp for that: what happens in heaven – immortality, freedom from the reigns of space and time, union with the divine, reunion with loved ones – can happen in movies, and happens commonly in the nursery film, where the only criteria is the sweet will and enraptured flight of an open consciousness.57 Wenders’ Wings of Desire illustrates this category in its representation of innocence and of the eternal child. Situating the viewer outside reality looking in, what Atkinson calls an “otherworldly dynamic,” the film offers the adoption of a childlike perspective so that can see the world in a new and different way.58 The character of Damiel acts in consistently childlike ways throughout the film. His curiosity and innocence heighten the narrative’s fairy tale qualities thereby effecting the viewer’s perception of events and interactions. While viewing his surroundings as new we are welcomed to do the same. We are beckoned to consider the childlike eye in order to gain a fresh perspective on the world. Wings of Desire asks it audience to adopt a childlike perspective. Watching Damiel’s journey allows the audience to come back to reality with new eyes. While our everyday speech might not be poetry, while we may not be able to transform ourselves merely by wishing, we may be able to gain perspective so that we can see our own lives and the world around us as new. The imagination holds vast quarries of possibilities, mainly untapped, through which we can transform our surroundings and our own lives through perception. Reality may not be what it seems, as long as our imaginations allow us to see the possibilities of what it might become.
Brazil: Dystopia and the Revolutionary Fairy Tale
One of the things I try to use movies for is a way of not ever growing up. To always maintain a child's point of view of the world. I don't care what kind of movie I make, it's trying to see the world with a sense of awe and amazement surprise and to show the rest of the world how extraordinary the world is. because most films don't do that.59 --Terry Gilliam The fairy tale allows for revolutionary content within its form. While outwardly benign, upon closer examination the fairy tale will divulge its political relevance. Modern manipulations of the fairytale must take socio-cultural implications hand in hand with narrative devices. The fairy tale form owes much of its development to revolutionary movements during its vast and complicated history. The efforts of the German Romantics brought new meaning and applications to the fairy-tale form. The German Romantics used the form’s intrinsic representation of utopia and wish fulfillment in an effort to effect their socio-political environment. The process through which the form underwent shows both the elasticity of its abstract form and the mark history can make on artifact: [The socio-political atmosphere] contributed to the conception of utopias in their works which must be considered as critical reflections of existing conditions. Since the folk tale inevitably dealt with power and how to order one’s life within a realm that greatly resembled a medieval hierarchy, it was natural for the romantics to reutilize this genre for their own purposes, particularly because they wanted to clarify for themselves the ambivalent situation which caused them distress. It is foolish to think of the romantics as escapist. Their distress was tied to the common wretchedness of the German people, and they sought to strike a common chord to which the German people might respond.60
Fairy-tale scholar Jack Zipes analyzes the form from a socio-cultural historical perspective in an attempt to unearth its revolutionary capacity. According to Zipes, the German Romantic writers implemented the fairytale form because they realized the value of utopian imagery within a society perceived as more dystopic. Socio-cultural crises affect the attitudes of artists and the issues expressed in their artwork: “Insofar as [fairy tales] have tended to project other and better worlds, they have often been considered subversive, or, to put it more positively, they have provided the critical measure of how far we are from taking history into our own hands and creating more just societies.”61 Artists of the Romantic era took up the traditional folktale form to show their socio-political situation in relation to utopian alternatives; the tales, therefore, invested relevant meaning so that the writers and readers could imagine the real world in new and better ways. Zipes stresses primarily the social revolutionary applications of the fairy tale form. Rather than manipulating the form in artistic consideration only, the Romantics intended to change the fabric of their socio-political environment by spreading their revolutionary ideas under the guise of a traditional tale. The fairy tale allows an invisible subversion of socio-political paradigms, which includes a call to action. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil functions in much the same way as the Romantic ‘s use of the fairy tale. The film uses the opposition of reality and non-reality and the idea of utopia to illustrate a society that stifles original thought and dreams. The film works as an indictment of contemporary society, painting the culture as insipid and asphyxiating. Very much a product of its culture, era and political
atmosphere, Brazil shows the utopian longings of a fantasy-prone bureaucrat. The film, however, proposes neither an answer to the narrative dilemma nor an outlet for social change. It rests in the stasis of its created world while leaving utopia as no more than a dream. The film is a reaction to the state of America; it depicts its alternate world in a pessimistic fashion, revealing the reality of what America might become, or as a heightened form of American reality at present. The world of Brazil is full of exaggerated technology ruled over by the coldness of a dominating government. Brazil tells the story of Sam, a bureaucrat, who struggles against his technological reality by retreating into a dream world. The audience sees the world through Sam’s eyes. Much of what he experiences in reality rests in his skewed perception of his environment. The film illustrates its future world as an inefficient bureaucratic system, obsessed with paperwork and rules, illogical and irrational most of the time while functioning myopically to be productive. Sam works in the busy office of Ministry of Records, a subsection of the larger Ministry, the government that controls the lives of all its citizens. Imposing laws and bureaucratic regulations, the system relies on reason and over-the-top logic to keep its citizens beaten down. Due to a paperwork error, an innocent man, Buttle was charged for the crimes of Tuttle. After coming across the mistake, Sam attempts to fix the problem. On the way, Sam meets Jill, the woman from his dreams. He subsequently gets wrapped up in terrorist activity, meets the real Tuttle, who fixes the faulty wiring in his apartment, and becomes a veritable enemy of the state because of his new acquaintances.
The film, originally titled 1984_, connotes not the country of Brazil, but the calypso song: Brazil, Where hearts were entertained in June, We stood beneath an amber moon, And softly murmured "some day soon." Then, Tomorrow was another day, The morning found me miles away, With still a million things to say. Now, When twilight beams the sky above, Recalling thrills of our love, There's one thing that I'm certain of. Return. I will, to old Brazil. And, as the tagline states, “it’s only a state of mind.”62 The song summons images of escape to utopia, of “the good life” that’s waiting for you, of a near future where your wishes will be met, when you will have achieved happiness. Over the opening shot, drifting through the clouds, the melody plays. The lyrics pop up in the film sung by Sam in his car, sung by Tuttle while fixing Sam’s plumbing and again at the end when Sam has lost all hope. The song becomes the symbol of escape for everyone in the created world who has lost hope but still clings to the possibility of escape. The film’s stage is set in a dystopia reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984. The world of the film dangles an illusive utopian vision before its subjects, exploited by the dystopic system through the use of propaganda, advertisement, and an absurdly heightened capitalism. The film is “set in what the director described as ‘the flip side of now,’ a totalitarian society whose entire apparatus crushes its citizens in so many ways, leaving flights of fantasy as the only means of escape.”63 Sam finds in his dreams what lacks in his real life. This escape enables him to survive in the stiflingly oppressive government-supervised dystopia. He is able to see himself in an ideal image: brave, handsome, noble, desired. His
dreams express an opposite image to that of his everyday life. In reality, Sam is meek, anti-social and afraid of intimacy. He avoids responsibility and obligation. His dead-end job is just what he wants; it allows him time to daydream. Sam’s social environment constrains him from attaining his wishes. “They” would probably crucify him if they knew what he wanted. They in this formula are The Ministry in its many incarnations: Central Services, the Ministry of Information, Information Retrieval, Information Adjustments, the Ministry of Records, etc. Big Brother, if you will, exists as a mega-corporate entity prohibiting the freedom of the masses: [Brazil] was originally called The Ministry. It was really about how organizations become self-serving organisms and will do anything to keep themselves alive. That’s how it really started, and then you mix into all that things like Peter Principle, which is to say that people are promoted to a position above their capabilities and there they stay. Therefore, organizations are always peopled by employees that are bad at the job they’re doing. I was keen on Sam being a character who was wise, who avoided being promoted beyond his capabilities, because it bought him lots of free time to dream and fantasize, not taking responsibility for the organization.64 This scenario is just as applicable to life in America today. The heightened reality of Brazil attacks corporate domination and the proliferation of mass media, which necessarily affect our lives and worldview. In this way, Brazil gives us distance from our social condition so that we can look back on our situation with new eyes. The world of the film allows for ironic juxtaposition of expected utopic places ending up being worse than you can imagine. “Shangri-la Towers,” for example, one would suspect to be a castle in the clouds. The slum apartment building, being a product of the dystopian society, is plastered with banners
advertising the ideal lifestyle: the slogan “Happiness: We’re all in it together” hangs over a picture of the suburban nuclear family in their new car; another shows a cruise ship with the title “high security luxury holidays: relax without fear.” The place shows that once, perhaps, the ideals had been attainable. Since then, however, society has degenerated to the need for high security, fear and the bureaucratic system. The world of Brazil mirrors our own while emphasizing the idiosyncrasy of government systems, their officials and the absurdity of technology: “The point about Brazil is that we’re starting at a level that’s already fantastic, but we’re trying to root that fantastical world in a kind of hyperreality that everybody can understand.”65 The created world is heightened from reality. Monolithic skyscrapers tower so high they block out the sun. On the highway, oversized monster trucks rumble past compact cars. The exaggeratedly small and large juxtapose to heighten their opposition. It is a world in which plastic surgery has become a fad, as if beauty and the outward impression of youth could counter the inevitability of mortality. The latest technologies fill Sam’s apartment making it more claustrophobic than convenient. The instruments meant to make life easier only complicate. Sam’s morning routine illustrates his and society’s dependence on technology: his apartment automatically runs a bath, makes toast, brews coffee, turns on the TV, and opens the extendable closet. But it malfunctions. The coffee pours onto the toaster, leaving Sam with soggy bread and sugar water: There’s an element in there about the sacrifice of aesthetics for the goodies, the things you want, the mod-cons, the things that make your life
a little bit easier. The ducts are there to service you. And the ducts are there to keep an eye on you; there’s a two-way relationship with everything, every television you get, you actually see the world, but the world sometimes comes into your life and transforms you.66 The technology in the film shows, exaggeratedly, how we have come to depend on it. We have to wonder if, in reality, we are overly dependent on technology and its convenience. What happens when it fails? Living in a culture consumed by Capitalism and corporations affects the development of children just as it affects our art. In his autobiography, Gilliam recounts an experience from childhood of the joy he felt in popular culture fairy tale narrative: [Disneyland] used to fascinate me because it was so beautiful. There was no craftsmanship in American to match it at the time, unless you were a millionaire like Vanderbilt or Hearst and could build your own castle. But this was popular entertainment, beautifully done, and I loved it and went constantly. Later I became disillusioned when they began taking advertising and sponsorship. You could legitimately have Beacon’s Vans in the Old American Town, but to have Bank of America in Fantasyland seemed blasphemy. I felt there were precise rules about what could and couldn’t be done, and when it became more commercial in the later sixties, I was deeply disillusioned. But to a kid with a fantastic imagination, it was concrete and real, clearly done with a loving hand and real passion, not just to make money.67 Corporate domination is a social reality in America today and our narratives reflect this state. Sometimes it is all we can see; you can’t drive two blocks in any city without passing a McDonalds, a Starbucks or a Blockbuster Video. Mass culture affects us as individuals. In many ways narrative functions as a form of mass-mediated culture. The institutionalization of the fairy tale is prominently visible in American culture today due in large part to the Disney Corporation. The Disney cartoons provide a nice picture to look at. They use fairy tales to tell nice
stories, but do so by severing the genre’s connection to history, society and culture: The media rely on our performed imaginations to suggest in every manner and form that Disney-like utopias are ones which we should all strive to construct in reality, and, if that were not enough, we even have concrete Disneylands as blueprints for our imagination to show that they can be constructed. To counter this corporate inundation of our imagination, the familiar fairy tale must be made strange to us again if we are to respond to the unique images of our own imagination and the possible utopian elements they may contain. Otherwise the programmed fairy-tale images will continue to warp our sensibilities…68 Mass culture has created a mass utopian desire. Now, we all seek the same paradise, but it is no easier attainable. In a way, this mass utopia negates the individual’s imaginative faculty by affording a realized dream. Rather than beckoning the individual to imagine their own form of perfection, she is handed the means of attaining utopia in a sterilized plastic package. There are alternative examples of utopia in the mass media, however. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, for example, provides an alternative vision while enabling socially relevant discourse. Terry Gilliam never expected Brazil would end up the way it did. The original screenplay was much longer, denser, and more elaborate, if you can believe. We know the film in its “American version,” which is the product of a studio re-edit supervised by producer Sid Scheinberg.69 Due to budgetary constraints the production of Brazil, a 20-week shoot, had to shut down for its 13th and 14th weeks. During this time Gilliam make drastic rewrites in order to simplify the script to accommodate the money issues. In response to the issue Gilliam says:
I liked what I was originally trying to do, but we didn’t get it. It was so clear when we were writing that there were two parallel worlds, the real world and the dream world, and the story in the dream world was a complete tale in itself… What happened was the real world [of the film] was proving so bizarre that there was no need for the dreams. For example, when I pulled out all the guts of the flat, they were hanging like entrails; but there was a dream sequence where Sam tries to cut through a forest of these entrails with his mighty sword. But there was no need for the dream once we’d done it in Sam’s ‘real’ world.70 The world of Brazil is fraught with surreal images both fantastic and bizarre, beautiful and grotesque. The film relies upon the juxtaposition of desire and obligation to show Sam’s journey to attain his utopic vision. Brazil places dystopia and utopia in opposition as well as obligation and freedom. The reality of Brazil, a suffocating, overly logical and bureaucratic dystopia, shows how much we rely on the imagination. Brazil offers its viewers the vision of a dystopic future so that they can have the ability to prevent it from becoming a reality. If the film is set “somewhere in the 20th century,” then this future is close at hand (the film was released in 1985). The dystopia is countered by the utopian longings of the hero, Sam, who envisions his paradise as a serene landscape of green rolling hills and blue skies. The constriction of the reality in the film hinders Sam’s dreams from coming to fruition. Sam must rely on his imagination for his dreams to play out. This reliance, however, proves to be his downfall when his imagination seeps into reality, turning to surrealism and subjectivity. The story of Brazil relies greatly on subjectivity and dream imagery. You cannot always tell what is real and what is a dream. The dreams show us Sam’s vision of utopia, for they present the opposite of reality. As the film begins, we
find ourselves floating through a blue sky. We are at first introduced to Sam as a magnificent winged hero, soaring through the clouds. He comes across a beautiful woman, who we later learn is Jill, the object of Sam’s affection, an Aphrodite figure. We are then jarringly taken from the dream by a ringing phone. Sam wakes to realize his escape was just a dream. Brazil treats dreams as an aspect of reality, seen through the eyes on Sam Lowry. Subjectively, Sam affects the world because his escapist longings are incredibly desired and incredibly unattainable. The will involved, however, reflects a psychosis rather than a positive view of the human condition. While Sam becomes unable to survive in the bureaucratic world, he uses his dreams to make the world more bearable. Depending on this escape, however, he veritably severs his connection with reality projecting his dreams onto it. The “Scheinberg cut” makes it seem like the characters in which Sam finds salvation are actually products of his imagination. Archibald “Harry” Tuttle, played by Robert Deniro, and Jill Leyton, Sam’s dream girl, are made out to be figments rather than real people because of their dealings in the fantastic reality of Sam’s creation. Tuttle embodies everything Sam wants to be. As a plumber, Tuttle can see adventurous opportunities where Sam sees only limitation. Tuttle explains his unique perspective on his job: “I came into this game for the action, the excitement. Go anywhere, travel light. Get in, get out, wherever there’s trouble, a man alone.”71 Tuttle is Sam’s savior, rescuing him from the System, from oppression, from depression, and from disabled desire. Likewise, Jill embodies Sam’s unattainable desire. He sees in her the possibility of utopia, imagining a
life with her in the country. She is his connection, but the connection proves to be one with the imagination. Because of the allowances made in the reedit, we are left wondering whether Jill is real or if she is merely a product of Sam’s delusion. Is Jill a part of Sam? Does she exist at all or is she a projection of Sam’s imagination intruding into reality? The intrusion of dreamlike events into the reality of the film proves Sam’s delusion. Finding reality oppressing his dreams, Sam retreats further, imagining the oppressive society bowing to its knees. However, the use of subjectivity veils this change. Sam’s wishes find expression in reality through his subjective point of view. Sam’s everyday situations achieve nightmarish proportions. The information transport tubes insist on delivering message after message, but come too fast for Sam to reply. Eventually, the whole system collapses in a flurry of paper, allowing a momentary breath in a snowstorm through the office hallway. Sam finally witnesses his dreams coming true in reality, but in fact it is a psychosis. Once he obtains his wish, imagining himself retreated to the idyllic countryside with Jill, it is made clear that he only digs deeper into psychosis. As the coda pronounces, perhaps this is where utopia can be found. In an iconic “this is the end” shot, the camera pulls out of the serene setting, showing their quaint cabin set amid rolling green hills and pastures. It is a common utopia, an agrarian opposition to the conformity of technology. Suddenly, however, the symbols of Sam’s oppression, Mr. Helpmann, the head of the Ministry, and Jack Lint, Sam’s best friend and torturer, enter the frame, giants towering over the countryside to reveal that Sam has dreamt it all. Utopia is, therefore, nonexistent
in reality. “He’s gotten away from us,” says Mr. Helpmann. Sam hums the tune of “Brazil” in his daze, showing that his dream has been fulfilled but in an alternate way. Sam retreats into his lobotomized brain never to achieve his dream. Brazil would be a revolutionary fairy tale were it optimistic. According to the German Romantics, the fairy tale embodies revolutionary characteristics due to its use of utopian longing. In Brazil we see Sam longing for utopia but never achieving. Since utopia remains a fiction, the narrative implies that wishes are unfulfillable. Hopefully, viewers come out of the film believing more than “wishing is pointless;” this is one of the film’s strongest messages. While Brazil relies on fairy tale elements, its driving message is thoroughly anti-utopian. While Brazil argues that utopia is to be sought after, it also says that it does not exist in a realistic or accessible for.
The Fairy-Tale Film: What Distance from Reality Allows Children are exposed to the social design of reality from the moment they are born. Adult versions of ‘reality’ are imposed upon children to ensure that they are positioned physically, socially, and culturally to experience their own growth and life around them in specified ways. ‘Reality’ is held up to them as empirically verifiable and as an inexorable force. Fairy tales have always balanced and subverted this process and offered the possibility of seeing reality as an illusion… Thus, through the cinematic adaptations of fairy tales reality can be displayed as artificiality so that children can develop a sense of assembling and reassembling the frames of their lives for themselves.72 -- Jack Zipes, Happily Ever After Imagination is a powerful tool. It allows us to play around the impossible, to delve into our wishes fully. But the imagination itself cannot fulfill our wishes. This is why we need fairy tales and film. If I thought the same level of adventure portrayed in film and narrative could be found in reality, I probably would have become a mountain climber rather than a screenwriter. Narrative film allows for the adventure we seek but cannot find in everyday life. Film narrative, portrayed on the silver screen as a mimetic representation of what we know as reality, has fewer boundaries than everyday life. In film we can witness an adventure that we could never accomplish, not in our ordinary lives. Stories focus their imaginary worlds and imbue them with meaning. Isn’t this what we want the real world to be? In film and fiction we find transcendence because of their ability simplify events and to present coherent visions: Once inside this alien world, we find ourselves. Deep within these characters and their conflicts we discover our own humanity. We go to the 53
movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human being who at first seems unlike us and yet at heart is like us, to live in a fictional reality that illuminates out daily reality.73 We turn to narratives to find what lacks in our everyday lives. While we remain basically separated from most of the extremes of life we can see these experiences lived through imaginary people in imaginary places on the screen. Narratives are purposeful to us as a means to live vicariously through the characters of the story: “Our appetite for story is a reflection of the profound human need to grasp the patterns of living, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.”74 Perhaps we watch films and read books to learn about the world. We examine the activities of other people to learn about ourselves. Fairy-tale film equips us with new eyes so that we can see the world from different perspectives. We should come back with something new; we should find applicable meaning in the otherworld and in the visualization of imaginative yearning. Anything can happen in these imaginary worlds on screen; fairy-tale films show us places we could never go, events we could otherwise never be part of, and revelations based on circumstances we would otherwise never have experienced. These experiences and events prescribe to one dimension: the patterns of human life and the quest for knowledge. Within these alternate worlds we watch others like us journey on paths like ours. The difference, though, lies in the fact that films are not bound to the laws of the real world. They can open up untold numbers of possibilities of human experience in the most extraordinary circumstances and events.
The illusionistic tendency of the combination of film and narrative can hinder the viewer’s imaginative faculty. Unlike other narrative forms, film visualizes the story world for the participant, leaving the imagination inert. While we watch the images of the narrative play across the screen, we submit to them. They tell all; we only sit there: The pictures conceal the controls and machinery. They prevent the audience from really viewing the production and manipulation, and in the end, audiences can no longer envision a fairy tale for themselves, as they can when they read one. The pictures deprive the audience of their ability to visualize their own characters, roles, and desires.75 We no longer construct visages in our heads, flesh out the events in our minds, or visualize the world of the story for ourselves; the films do all the imagining for us. We are given a thoroughly realized story world with events and characters whole and animated. Watching the complete construction of story events on the screen hinders the creation of new daydreams only to allow the imagination to linger of the representations on an intangible alternate reality, untouchable, so longingly "other" that in no way can it be viably attained. What is left for the imagination to explore? Only after the film has ended does the viewer’s imagination light up again. We are left to imagine the character’s various postexperiences in our heads as well as possible applications of the story to our own real lives. Fairy tales allow the escape to another world, a world quite unlike that of the one we inhabit. As children we are exposed to the wonderful worlds in traditional tales; our dreams of the wish fulfillment they offer linger as we grow
older. We still want this escape as adults and, since it is merely a dream of the imagination, it is a quarrel that we live with as a sort of relic from childhood: We all believe a little in fairies, we want the fairies to appear; this is because we all want reality to be a little different from what grown-ups say about it, and because it is quite possible that reality really is different; it is because the isolation of fairyland is never completely effected, and because, as a consequence, really never appears to be ossified for good and all.76 This common goal is played out in fairy-tale film in an attempt to break the bounds of reality. Since we are physically held to this reality, imagination provides the possibility of escape. The representation of magical events in films that occur in a realistic setting brings to light the beauty that can be found in everyday life. It just depends on where you look and how you see it. The world we live in can be filled with just as much beauty and wonder as the films we love: “If we are to grant existence to things merely on the basis of their seeming real, we will be at a loss to find any illusions in the world. And as surely as there is a real world out there, there are illusions too.”77 If we consistently return to narrative film as an escape from the real world, based on the conclusion that the illusion enables a heightened autonomous reality, then everyday life will retain none of its inherent beauty. Finding adventure in the outlet of the make-believe, which narrative film allows, can strip the real world of its magnificence if one does not extract meaning and relevance. We must, therefore, find ways to bring our wishes and dreams into reality. While narrative allows for a vicarious fulfillment, it will always remain intangible. If we are to rely on narrative for its ability to fulfill our wishes there will always be
something lacking – in ourselves and in our perspective of what the real world offers. Narrative can show us alternative ways to bring our wishes to fruition, but we must take the next step. We must attempt to fulfill our own wishes in our own real lives. Fairy tales and fairy-tale films are not fanciful escapes; they uphold the human ability to fulfill our deepest wishes in our own lives. The fairy-tale film shows us that the otherworld is not so different from the real world; it all depends on perspective. The fairy tale does not create its utopian world as a far off Neverland. Rather, fairyland lies deep in our hearts to tell us that the bounds of reality are not as stringent as adults say they are. Realistically, wishing upon a star may not be as eventful as attempting to change the social dynamic. Fairy tales, however, allow us to do both. We may see our wishes come true while witnessing the possibilities reality holds when held up against fairyland. We continue to read and write fairy tales so that we can imagine the scientific laws of reality as a little broader.
Appendix: How Many Stories?: A look at Structural Folklore and Genre Film Forms of storytelling as diverse as the fairy tale and the film may provide insight into how writers convey meaning and how traditions develop and change. Russian folklorist Vladimir Propp’s work on structuralism transformed his own field, and it has also been used in film to understand how classical texts build upon conventional structures. Study of film genres has drawn from structural folklore, shedding light on the contrasting methods and traditions of each form. Generally, through each of these fields it can be seen that basic stories are persistent through traditions and that generic forms enable both artistic and socio-cultural dialogue. Fairy tales have maintained a place in people’s creative and social minds for millennia not just because of their beauty, timelessness or fantastic elements. As an oral form, the fairytale was transmitted by storytellers who played on variations of themes and motifs while following the conventions of the tale structure: The singer [storyteller] proceeds as if he were walking down a well-known path. He may branch off here to take a shortcut or pause there to enjoy a panorama, but he always remains on familiar ground… Texts as not rigidly fixed for him as they are for readers of the printed page. He creates his text as he goes, picking new routes through old themes.78 The traditional fairy tale flourished because of the flexibility of its form. Storytellers used the backbone of a tale while elaborating on the events. The performer embodied the characters’ personas and anachronisms. The storyteller also embroidered details to make the story place- and time-specific so that the listeners would become drawn in and able to associate better with the events and 58
characters. Using a basic theme, character and setting, the performer created the story anew with each retelling: “Because of their oral existence, narrative genres float in an unlimited number of variants around a limited number of plots.”79 In oral performance, the details change with each retelling. The story will change to suit the audience. Given the basic tales in a teller’s corpus, the narrator can build upon any situation. Fairy tales are useful today both as an historical document and as a time-tested appealing form for storytellers: Fairytale form allows for a varied content in a fixed form. In Vladimir Propp’s key work on folktale structure, Morphology of the Folktale, he presents thirty-one functions, which are the building blocks of the tales.80 By function, Propp means an action of a character within the tale. Based on these functions he theorizes: “all folktales are of one and the same type in regard to their structure.”81 The tales show a strict structural cohesion. They follow the same guidelines in that we see the hero consistently perform the same acts, meet similar people, and reaching similar conclusions. Though it would be impossible to study every folktale, Propp extrapolated from an examination of one hundred Russian tales that fairy tales constitute a uniform corpus. Propp does not presuppose the universality of his functions; rather, he warns the implication of such a statement. The tales follow an impressively straight line through the action, showing the hero’s journey from inciting incident to successful accomplishment of his goal. Tales impose a structure that pushes inherently toward resolution.
A tale may consist of more or less functions, but the basic structure of the tales remains consistent throughout the corpus. Folklorist Max Luthi distinguished the central conflict of the folktale as the pairing of the functions Lack and 19) Lack Liquidated: The basic sequence lack/lack liquidated (L-LL) makes apparent the clarity of the fairy tale structure… Corresponding need and striving for remedy dominate not only the fairy tale narrative but life in general. Humans, animals, and even plants seek compensation for harm they have suffered, to heal an injury or relieve a lack which they feel.82 From Propp’s thirty-one functions it is possible to simplify the basic conflict of the story into binary operation: lack/lack liquidated (L-LL). The L-LL scenario is the central conflict within the folktale. Based on a generic concept, the folktale truly encompasses the world; the central conflict incorporates a wide range of possibilities. The peculiar uniformity of plot structure found in folklore can also be found in narrative film. The work of Vladimir Propp has been illuminating in the analysis of film texts.83 Deconstruction of such films as Rio Bravo, Sunset Boulevard and Kiss Me Deadly proves the overarching application of Propp’s functions: “Propp’s analysis should be useful in analyzing the structure of literary forms (such as novels and plays), comic strips, motion-picture and television plots, and the like… Propp’s Morphology suggests that there can be structural as well as content borrowings.”84 Interestingly, the films mentioned above do not extend other elements of fairy tales, such as content; they only correspond in structure. The application of Propp’s functions to contemporary film, apart from the structural resemblance, shows patterns of narrative traditions and tendencies,
which spread across cultural and historical boundaries. These analyses support the theory that film genre works in much the same way as the fairy-tale form. Film critic Peter Wollen has performed a morphological analysis of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest to success.85 His findings permit a number of conclusions. The structure of narrative film has taken from fairy-tale form in its linearity. Because of its abstract form and elasticity, fairy tales provides excellent models for story structure as well as a deep well from which modern storytellers can extract inspiration and methodological lessons. Film genres work in much the same way as folklore form. Genres function as communication between storyteller and audience while also acting as a classification system.86 Genre categorization can be a way to delineate stories into recognizable patterns. The corpus of a genre is held together by an allencompassing paradigm (i.e.: theme, formulaic plot, worldview, etc.). In a similar way that the oral performer modifies his tales from a generic corpus for each retelling, the genre system allow artists to modify stories to please audiences at given social times. Genre formulas can be altered to adapt to the social atmosphere. In his essay “The Structural Influence,” film critic Thomas Schatz notes the similar artistic methods of the genre film and the folktale: Considering the genre film as a popular folktale assigns to it a mythic function that generates its unique structure, whose function is the ritualization of collective ideals, the celebration of temporarily resolved social and cultural conflicts, and the concealment of disturbing cultural conflicts behind the guise of entertainment.87
According to Shatz, genres work in consistent ways to reaffirm the social order. In this way they function in much the same was as the folklore genre, which enables an imbedded social dialogue. Film scholar Thomas Sobchack proposes in his essay “Genre Film: A Classical Experience,” that genre film functions in an institutionalized system to reaffirm the individual’s relationship to the group. Its socio-cultural character supports the theory that genre films, because of their elasticity based on plot formula, implies a defined ideology and worldview: “The cathartic potentials of the genre film can also be seen as a way in which the tension of cultural and social paradoxes inherent in a human experience can be resolved.”88 This system also reaffirms social integrity through the reiteration of themes and morals, which stress the role of the individual as a thread of the social fabric. Genre formulas can be viewed as basic stories, the grounds from which whole film narratives develop (albeit there are many films that do not fit into a genre mold). If there are only so many of these genre formulas how are there so many films with such a wide range of stories? A simple story can be boiled down into something as simple as, “a detective hunts for a murderer while deterred by a viciously cunning vixen,” as is the basic film noir formula. From this phrase we get a great deal of information on character, motive and conflict. Formulas can offer writers a starting point so that they can insert their own creative ideas and ingenuity. The main concern with genre rests in the duplication of narrative based on a generic, conventional model: “[T]he genre film lives up to the guiding principle of its classical origins: ‘there is nothing new under the sun,’ and truth
with a capital T is to be found in imitating the past.”89 The continued life of simple stories, such as genre formulas and folktale structures, relies not on the repetition of the past, for this leads to the proliferation of sterility and convention. Ingenuity and creativity can perhaps be found not in the imitation of past filmic successes but in the observation of common narrative qualities in everyday life. In his Poetics, Aristotle defines mimesis (imitation) as any part of everyday life that is translated into fiction: Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature. First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated… The reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or inferring.90 Considering all art as mimetic of everyday situations helps to synthesize basic plots. Common conflicts arise and proliferate within narratives through mimesis, such as L-LL. The most general conflict could be defined as good versus evil. We encounter forms of this conflict everyday in one form or another. Do we speak and read narrative because we wish to take ourselves away from our everyday situations? A plot, being an imitation of action, would only display actions of likeness to everyday life. Why is narrative attractive if it is just the same as everyday life? Storytelling offers the possibility of escape into an alternate world. This otherworld has many of the attributes of reality, but is somehow different: heightened: We used to think of the stories we read, listen to, and watch as little more than trivial amusements employed to “kill time.” Now we know that people learn from stories, are emotionally affected by them, and actually need stories to lend color and interest to their everyday lives. That is why some
scholars have described humans not as Homo sapiens, man and woman the knower, but as Homo narrans, man and woman the storytellers, the tellers of tales.91 Human beings were telling stories before the invention of language. Storytelling is our most powerful art form because it allows us to reconstruct reality through events and imaginary characters. Narratives offer a gateway into this otherworld so that we can view reality from a distance. In this otherworld events have form, paths have definite objectives and conflicts are neatly resolved. We may learn from the character’s mistakes and gain solace through their achievements. Returning to reality, then, we may see in our everyday what we had previously thought was lacking. We bring back the lessons we learn from these imaginary characters to real-life so that we may apply them to our own experiences.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Jack Zipes, Happily Ever After (New York: Routledge, 1997), 1-2. Jack Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell (New York: Routledge, 1979), 3. Zipes, Happily Every After, 61. Max Luthi, The European Folktale (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), 24. Max Luthi, The Fairy Tale as Art Form (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 105.
See Jack Zipes, “The Grimms and the German Obsession with the Fairy Tale,” in Fairy Tales and Society, ed. Ruth Bottigheimer (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986). In the article Zipes applies his socio-political view of the fairy tale to the Romantic movement in Germany to show how writers utilized the fairy-tale genre as a pacifist political movement. The Romantics introduced political ideas into their fairy tales, hidden under the genre’s innocent guise. The terms folktale and fairytale in this examination will be used synonymously. Due to the translation of the source material, “fairy tale” has been changed to “folktale” and vice versa in the texts. In scholarship, “folklore’ is an umbrella categorization, which includes tale types as diverse as fables, jokes and legends. The fairytale is a type of folktale, also called wonder tales or magic tales. There is also some ambiguity when translating folk and fairytale works. From German, for example, the term märchen applies across the board. The translation of German tales and scholarship, then, includes the ambiguity of the terminology. For example, Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale actually relates to wonder tales (fairy tales).
8 9 7
Luthi, The European Folktale, 35. Luthi, The European Folktale, 87. Robert Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre (New York: Basic Books, 1984), 23. Darnton, 64. Jack Zipes, Fairy Tale as Myth (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1994), 138. Salman Rushdie, The Wizard of Oz (London: BFI Publishing, 1992), 23.
10 11 12 13 14
Henry Littlefield, "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism," American Quarterly 16 (Spring 1964): 56.
15 16 17 18 19
Roger Ebert, “The Wizard of Oz,” Chicago Sun-Times, 22 December 1996, NC5. Littlefield, 48. Littlefield, 54. Littlefield, 57. Zipes, Fairy Tale as Myth, 128.
20 Justyna Deszcz, “Beyond the Disney Spell, or Escape Into Pantoland,” Folklore 113 (April 2002): 85.
In his article “The Grimms and the German Obsession with Fairy Tales,” Jack Zipes notes how the Germans used the fairy tale form to question institutional and political standards during the Romantic period. Deszcz similarly applies the fairy tale’s historically proven methods to Disney’s use of the form and the classic stories. Michael Atkinson, “Film Enchante: Out of the nursery, into the night,” Film Comment 34 (November/December 1998): 36.
23 24 22
Zipes, Fairy Tale as Myth, 94.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, “Snow White,” in The Annotated Brothers Grimm, ed. and trans. Maria Tatar (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004), 240-255. Kevin Yee, “Fairy Tales: a closer look at their familiar yarns,” MousePlanet, http://www.mouseplanet.com/fairytales/ft010622.htm (9 Mar. 2005). Here, Yee references the story from the Grimm’s first edition of their Kinder- und Hausmarchen, compiled in 1810. In contrast to the other editions of the book, the first edition was published posthumously and included the tales unaltered from the oral telling. Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic, trans. David Kunzle (NY: International General, 1975), 96.
28 27 26 25
Dorfman and Mattelart, 95.
Luthi, The Fairy Tale as Art Form, 105. Through the process of binarism we see the two opposing forces as well as every dot on the spectrum between them. For example, if we were to place the young and the old side by side in opposition, we would inevitably see everything between them constituting the separation: the egg, the extremely young new born, the toddler, the pubescent, the adolescent, the adult, the middle-aged, the retired, the elderly, the extremely old man on his deathbed, and the dead. Thus, between every two opposing factors lies a whole range of moderators on the spectrum. When we read in a fairytale that the hero is an innocent beautiful youth, we immediately differentiate that from the old, the ugly, and the evil. We have already set the hero apart from what might oppose him in the story.
Luthi, The Fairy Tale as Art Form, 5-6. David Breskin, “The Rolling Stone Interview: Tim Burton,” Rolling Stone, 9 July 1992, 115. Breskin, 41.
31 32 33
Otto Rank, “The Myth of the Birth of the Hero,” in In Quest of the Hero (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990), 3. Various theories exist to explain the origination of tales. In this essay Rank differentiates the theories as 1) elemental ideas, 2) original community and 3) migration.
Luthi, The European Folktale, 75.
Robert McKee, Story (New York: Regan Books, 1997), 196-7. All stories can be sublimated into a basic pattern: order-disorder-order. To put it simply, the world begins in a state of equilibrium; an antagonizing force disrupts the stasis and the balance must be restored. This model can be considered a building block of all stories. Whether the equilibrium concerns the life of the hero, the community, or the larger world is entirely relative. This pattern represents many central qualitites of narrative as well, including change, conflict, resolution, catharsis, and realization. Writer McKee has described the basic plot as follows: “For better or worse, an event
throws a character’s life out of balance, arousing in him the conscious and/or unconscious desire for that which he feels will restore balance, launching him on a quest for his object of desire against forces of antagonism. He may or may not achieve it. This is story in a nutshell.” Michel Butor, “On Fairy Tales,” in European Literary Theory and Practice, ed. Vernon W. Gras (New York: Delta, 1973), 362.
Luthi, The European Folktale, 76. Luthi, The Fairy Tale as Art Form, 166. Orpheus, Dir. Jean Cocteau (Films du Palaid Royale, 1950). Opening voice-over narration.
38 39 40
Jean Cocteau, The Art of Cinema, ed. Andre Bernard and Claude Gauteur, trans. Robin Buss (London: Marion Boyars, 1988), 156..
41 42 43 44 45 46
Orpheus, Dir. Jean Cocteau. Dialogue from the film. Cocteau, The Art of Cinema, 38. Luthi, The European Folktale, 77. Orpheus, Dir. Jean Cocteau. Dialogue from the film. Atkinson, 37.
Robert Phillip Kolker and Peter Beicker, The Films of Wim Wenders (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 145.
47 48 49 50 51
Kolker, 147. Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell, 65. Wings of Desire. Dir. Wim Wenders (Argos Films, 1987). Kolker, 147.
Wings of Desire, Dir. Wim Wenders. Voiceover Monologue spoken by Homer, the aged poet, in his search for Potsdammer Platz. Wings of Desire, Dir. Wim Wenders. Another incarnation of Damiel’s voice-over monologue. P.F. Anderson, “Star light, star bright,” The Mother Goose Pages, http://wwwpersonal.umich.edu/~pfa/dreamhouse/nursery/rhymes/light.html (30 October 2004).
54 55 56 57 58 53 52
Kolker, 148. Wings of Desire, Dir. Wim Wenders. Kolker, 148. Atkinson, 36. Atkinson, 35.
59 60 61 62
“Terry Gilliam on Fredrico Fellini’s 8 _,” Fredrico Fellini's 8 _ (Criterion Collection, 2001). Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell, 63-4. Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell, 3.
Internet Movie Database, “taglines for Brazil” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088846/taglines (12 Dec. 2004). David Morgan, “Gilliam, Gotham, God,” in Terry Gilliam: Interviews, eds. David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004), 53. Paul Wardle, “Terry Gilliam,” in Terry Gilliam: Interviews, eds. David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004), 91.
65 66 64 63
Terry Gilliam, Gilliam on Gilliam, ed. Ian Christie (London: Faber and Faber, 1999), 121.
Stuart Klawans, “A Dialogue with Terry Gilliam,“ in Terry Gilliam: Interviews, eds. David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004), 154.
67 68 69
Gilliam, Gilliam on Gilliam, 26-7. Zipes, Breaking the Magic Spell, 105.
Gregory Solman, “Fear and Loathing in America: Gilliam on the Artist’s Fight or Flight Instinct,” in Terry Gilliam: Interviews, eds. David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004), 186.
Gilliam, Gilliam on Gilliam, 117.
Brazil, Dir. Terry Gilliam (Universal Pictures, 1985). Dialogue of Archibald “Harry” Tuttle, on plumbing.
Zipes, Happily Ever After, 110. McKee, 5. McKee, 12. Zipes, Happily Ever After, 37. Butor, 352.
75 76 77
Andrew Kania, “ The Illusion of Realism in Film,” British Journal of Aesthetics 42 (July 2002): 256.
Linda Degh, “Oral Folklore,” in Folklore and Folklife, ed. Richard Dorson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), 59. Vladimir Propp, Morphology of the Folktale (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968). By function, Propp means the actions of the dramatis personae (the characters in the tale). The following is a list of his thirty-one functions found on pages 25-65 of Morphology:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 8a. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
Absentation Interdiction Violation Reconnaissance Delivery Trickery Complicity Villainy Lack Mediation Beginning Counteraction Departure The First Function of the Donor The Hero’s Reaction Receipt of a Magical Agent Spatial Transference
16. Struggle 17. Branding 18. Victory 19. Lack Liquidated 20. Return 21. Pursuit 22. Rescue 23. Unrecognized Arrival 24. Unfounded Claims 25. Difficult Task 26. Solution 27. Recognition 28. Exposure 19. Transfiguration 30. Punishment 31. Wedding
Propp, 23. Luthi, The Fairy Tale as Art Form, 55.
Pam Cook, ed., The Cinema Book, (London: BFI, 1985) includes an overview of Propp and the application of morphological analyses on popular film and classical Hollywood Narrative film. The article includes close readings of Rio Bravo and To Have and Have Not and references Sunset Boulevard. John Fell, “Vladimir Propp in Hollywood,” Film Quarterly 30 (Spring 1977): 1920. Fell examines Kiss Me Deadly. Alan Dundes, Introduction to Morphology of the Folktale, by Vladimir Propp, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968), xiv-xv. Peter Wollen, “A Morphological Analysis of North by Northwest,” in Readings and Writings, 18-33 (London: Verson, 1982). See Steve Neale, “Questions of Genre,” in Film Genre Reader 2, ed. Barry Keith Grant (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995) for more on the diverse aspects of film genres. Film genres function both to institutionalize creativity and to provide structure to film markets. Genres are not necessarily created to feed a particular social or cultural hunger, though mostly arise to answer a social problem. They arise when studios recognize high grosses in a particular area; they continue when grosses in that area remain high. Thomas Schatz, “The Structural Influence: New Directions in Film Genre Study,” in Film Genre Reader 2, ed. Barry Keith Grant (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995), 97. Thomas Sobchack, “The Genre Film: A Classical Expeirence,” in Film Genre Reader 2, ed. Barry Keith Grant (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995), 109.
89 90 88 87 86 85 84
Sobchack, 102. Aristotle, 3. By poetry, Aristotle refers to literary art and narrative in general.
Arthur Asa Berger, Narratives in Popular Culture, Media and Everyday Life (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1997), 174. See page 162 for a chart comparing narratives and everyday life.
Bibliography: Anderson, P.F. “Star light, star bright.” The Mother Goose Pages. http://www.personal.umich.edu/~pfa/dreamhouse/nursery/rhyme s/light .html. 30 October 2004. Aristotle. Poetics. Translated by S. H. Butcher. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961. Atkinson, Michael. “Film Enchante: Out of the nursery, into the night.” Film Comment 34 (November/December 1998): 34-38. Berger, Arthur. Narratives in Popular Culture, Media, and Everyday Life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1997. Breskin, David. “The Rolling Stone Interview: Tim Burton.” Rolling Stone, 9 July 1992, 38ff. Burton, Tim. Burton on Burton. Edited by Mark Salisbury. Kent, Great Britain: Faber and Faber, 1995. Butor, Michel. “On Fairy Tales.” In European Literary Theory and Practice. Edited by Vernon W. Gras, 351-6. New York: Delta, 1973. Carroll, Noel. Mystifying Movies: Fads and Fallacies in Contemporary Film Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. Cocteau, Jean. Art of the Cinema. Edited by Andre Bernard and Claude Gauteur. Translated by Robin Buss. London: Marion Boyars, 1988. Cook, Pam, ed. The Cinema Book. London: BFI, 1985. Darnton, Robert. The Great Cat Massacre. New York: Basic Books, 1984. Degh, Linda. “Oral Folklore.” In Folklore and Folklife. Edited by Robert Dorson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972. Deszcz, Justyna. “Beyond the Disney Spell, Or Escape Into Pantoland.” Folklore 113 (April 2002): 83-92. Dorfman, Ariel and Armand Mattelart. How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic. Translated by David Kunzle. New York: International General, 1975. Ebert, Roger. “The Wizard of Oz.” Chicago Sun-Times, 22 December 1996, NC5. Eliot, T.S. The Sacred Wood. London: Methuen and Company. 1920. Fell, John. “Vladimir Propp in Hollywood.” Film Quarterly 30 (Spring 1977): 19-20. Gilliam, Terry. Gilliam on Gilliam. Edited by Ian Christie. London: Faber and Faber, 1999. Kania, Andrew. “The Illusion of Realism in Film.” British Journal of Aesthetics 42 (July 2002): 243-257. Klawans, Stuart. “A Dialogue with Terry Gilliam.” In Terry Gilliam: Interviews. Edited by David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes, 141169. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. Kolker, Robert Phillip and Peter Beicker. The Films of Wim Wenders. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Littlefield, Henry. "The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism." American Quarterly 16 (Spring 1964): 47-58. Lucey, Paul. Story Sense. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996.
Luthi, Max. The Fairy Tale as Art Form and Portrait of Man. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987. Luthi, Max. The European Folktale. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982. McKee, Robert. Story. New York: Regan Book, 1997. Morgan, David. “Gilliam, Gotham, God.” In Terry Gilliam: Interviews. Edited by David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes, 52-64. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. Neale, Steve. “Questions of Genre.” In Film Genre Reader 2, ed. Barry Keith Grant, 159-183. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. Propp, Vladimir. Morphology of the Folktale. Translated by Laurence Scott. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1968. Rank, Otto. “The Myth of the Birth of the Hero.” In In Quest of the Hero. 3-86. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990. Rushdie, Salman. The Wizard of Oz. London: BFI, 1992. Schatz, Thomas. “The Structural Influence: New Directions in Film Genre Study.“ In Film Genre Reader 2, ed. Barry Keith Grant, 91-101. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. Sloman, Gregory. “Fear and Loathing in America: Gilliam on the Artist’s Fight or Flight Instinct.” In Terry Gilliam: Interviews. Edited by David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes, 184-207. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. Sobchack, Thomas. “Genre Film: A Classical Experience.” In Film Genre Reader 2, ed. Barry Keith Grant, 102-113. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. Wardle, Paul. “Terry Gilliam.” In Terry Gilliam: Interviews. Edited by David Skerritt and Lucille Rhodes, 65-106. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. Wollen, Peter. “A Morphological Analysis of North by Northwest.” In Readings and Writings. London: Version, 1982. Zipes, Jack. Happily Ever After. Routledge: NY, 1997. Zipes, Jack. Breaking the Magic Spell. New York: Routledge, 1979. Zipes, Jack. Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion. New York: Routledge, 1991. Zipes, Jack. Fairy Tale as Myth. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1994. Zipes, Jack. “The Grimms and the German Obsession with Fairy Tales.” In Fairy Tales and Society. Edited by Ruth Bottigheimer, 271285. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986.
A Company of Wolves. Dir. Neil Jordan. Cannon Films, 1984. Ashpet. Dir. Tom Davenport, 1990. Aladdin. Dir. Ron Clements and John Musker. Walt Disney Pictures, 1992. Alice (Neco z Alenky). Dir. Jan Svankmejer. Channel Four Films, 1988. Beauty and the Beast. Dir. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. Walt Disney Pictures, 1991. Beauty and the Beast (Belle et la Bete). Dir. Jean Cocteau. DisCina, 1946. Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Dir. Robert Stevenson. Perf. Angela Lansbury. Walt Disney Pictures, 1971. Brazil. Dir. Terry Gilliam. Perf. Jonathan Price, Robert De Niro. Universal Pictures, 1985. Dreamchild. Dir. Gavin Millar. Universal Pictures, 1985. Edward Scissorhands. Dir. Tim Burton. Perf. Johnny Depp, Winona Rider. 20th Century Fox, 1990. Ever After. Dir. Andy Tennat. Perf. Drew Barrymore. 20th Century Fox, 1998. Finding Neverland. Dir. Mark Foster. Perf. Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet. Film Colony, 2004. Fredrico Fellini’s 8 _. Dir. Fredrico Fellini. Cineriz/Francinex, 1963. King Kong. Dir. Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack. RKO Radio Pictures, 1933. Kiss Me Deadly. Dir. Robert Aldrich. Parklane pictures, 1955. Labyrinth. Dir. Jim Henson. Perf. Jennifer Connelley, David Bowie. TriStar Pictures, 1986. Legend. Dir. Ridley Scott. Perf. Tom Cruise. 20th Century Fox/ Universal/Embassy, 1985. Lost Horizon. Dir. Frank Capra. Columbia Pictures, 1937. Mary Poppins. Dir. Robert Stevenson. Perf. Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke. Walt Disney Pictures, 1964. Metropolis. Dir. Fritz Lang. Universum Film A.G., 1927. North by Northwest. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Cary Grant. MGM, 1959. Orpheus. Dir. Jean Cocteau. Films du Palais Royale, 1950. Pinocchio. Walt Disney Pictures, 1940. Pretty Woman. Dir. Garry Marshall. Perf. Julia Roberts, Richard Gere. Touchstone Pictures, 1990. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Dir. Robert Iscove. Walt Disney Television, 1997. Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Dir. Michael Cohn. Perf. Sigourney Weaver, Sam Neill. Polygram Filmed Entertainment, 1997. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt Disney Pictures, 1937. Splash. Dir. Ron Howard. Perf. Daryl Hannah, Tom Hanks. Touchstone Pictures, 1984. Star Wars. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford. Lucasfilm Ltd., 1979. Sunset Boulevard. Dir. Billy Wilder. Paramount pictures, 1950.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Dir. Terry Gilliam. Perf. John Neville. Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1988. The Dark Crystal. Dir. Jim Henson. Henson Productions/Universal Pictures, 1982. The NeverEnding Story. Dir. Wolfgang Peterson. Warner Bros., 1985. The Princess Bride. Dir. Rob Reiner. Perf. Cary Elwes, Robin Wright. Buttercup Films, 1987. The Thief of Bagdad. Dir. Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell and Tim Whelan. London Film Productions, 1940. The Witches. Dir. Nicolas Roeg. Perf. Angelica Huston. Jim Henson ProductionS/Lorimar, 1990. The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Perf. Judy Garland. MGM, 1939. Voyage to the Moon. Dir. Georges Melies. Star Film, 1902. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Dir. Mel Stuart. Perf. Gene Wilder. David L. Wolper Productions, 1971. Wings of Desire. Dir. Wim Wenders. Argos Films, 1987.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?