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Fairytales for Troubled Times: The Shape of Water

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"Fairy tales were born in times of trouble, in complicated times--when hope felt lost. I made The Shape of Water as an antidote to cynicism. For it seems to me that when we speak of love--when we believe in love--we do so in a hopeless way. We fear looking naive and even disingenuous. But Love is real--absolutely real--and, like water, it is the most gentle and most powerful force in the Universe. It is free and formless until it pours into its recipient, until we let it in. Our eyes are blind. But our soul is not. It recognises love in whatever shape it comes to us."  - Guillermo del Toro
I had wanted to begin my series on Guillermo del Toro's fairytales with Pan's Labyrinth, but it may have been inevitable that I would start here. Every other Friday I have the flat to myself, and every other Friday I sit down and watch The Shape of Water. When I was a child I would watch Beauty and the Beast, then rewind the tape and watch it again, and again; the more things chan…

The Next Disney Movie That Will Never Be: Tipingee

This short little story doesn't exactly lend itself easily to film adaptation, but it's a story I think could be fleshed out in interesting ways. The main point here that is something I would love to see in film, particularly in children's films, is girls working together and supporting each other. It's no mistake this is the story I chose to talk about on International Women's Day; a story showcasing the power women have when supporting and protecting each other would not only be timely, but timeless.

Tipingee is a Haitian story that begins in a rather Cinderella-esque way. Tipingee is an orphan who lives with her wicked step-mother. The step-mother is selfish and keeps all of Tipingee's father's belongings to herself, giving the child nothing. One day while Tipingee is at school, the fire goes out at home and the step-mother ventures into the woods herself to find more firewood. She gathers a heavy bundle, then cries aloud for help.

An old man suddenly ap…

There Is, There Was, There Will Be: On Creating a Fairytale Story

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There's been radio silence here because the next post I wanted to do, and felt like I probably should do, I was scared to write. It's not even just that I hate confrontation and have no desire to argue with people on the internet, but I'm just generally tired of making the same points ad nauseum; I'm very aware that no one actually cares about fairytale storytelling but me. And Guillermo del Toro.* I could do a whole series on his fairytales. And likely will, now that I think of it.

But I digress. The point I mean to make is that criticism of genre storytelling needs to engage with the story within its medium; criticising a fairytale for using fairytale storytelling devices is just a bad faith engagement with the story.You don't have to like fairytales, but the fact that you dislike something doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. A fairytale story can use those devices badly, but to criticise it for using them period is to misunderstand how a fairytale story …