There seems to be considerable interest in films based on fairy tales at present. Rupert Sanders’s Snow White and the Huntsman comes close on the heels of Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, while in various stages of development are Jack the Giant Killer, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and two from Guillermo del Toro: Beauty and the Beast and Pinnocchio.
What is it about fairy tales that should make them so appealing to directors at the present time?
One very practical aspect may be simply that, with financial pressures all round, fairy tales make for very cheap source material when compared with buying the film rights for a best-selling novel. But it goes deeper than that. Film-making trends very often reflect the concerns of the time.
In the 1950s and ’60s, there were many films about UFOs and aliens, reflecting American fears of the USSR at the height of the Cold War. Another contemporary trend is zombie movies, expressing the anxiety of society being destroyed from within by hyper-individualist anarchy.
READ THE COMMENTARY ON SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (M), BY TONY WATKINS