Once upon a time, original ideas were bountiful, giving writers and artists endless opportunities to create. Sadly, those original ideas have dwindled, so writers and artists of today have found new ways to recreate the old into something new and fantastical. The latest popular rewrite: fairytales.
One of the reasons writers are probably focusing so much on fairytales — besides the fact that vampires and zombies have been done to death — is because they are perfect for the generation that grew up with the Disney rewrites. It began in 1937 with Snow White. Later came Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and, recently, The Princess and the Frog. All of these rewrites were geared toward the happily-ever-after endings that children should aspire to, often leaving out the darker side of the story. Now these children are grown up, and they want to hear the real stories.
Some of the rewrites we have seen recently are Red Riding Hood and Beastly (a modern take on Beauty and the Beast). Neither of these fared well in theaters, probably because they lacked originality. This is the risk taken when trying to bring back a classic, but it is a risk that is sometimes successful.
Currently, we have Grimm on NBC and Once Upon a Time on ABC. Both of these stories take place in the modern world — another popular trend in fairytale rewrites. Grimm follows police officer Nick Burkhardt, played by David Giuntoli, who is the last in the Grimm bloodline. Because of this, he is able to see the creatures the Grimm brothers described in their fairytales. He is given the task by his dying aunt to help destroy the bad ones or the ones who lose control. It is great to see how the Grimms might have perceived others to end up with the tales they did.
Once Upon a Time switches back and forth between fairytale land and Storybrooke, Mass. Snow White, along with a mix of numerous other fairytale characters, such as Rumpelstiltskin and Jiminy Cricket, is cursed to live a modern life where happily ever after doesn’t exist for anyone except the Evil Queen. The spunky Snow White and use of names for clues is very innovative in this rewrite. Even if you don’t watch any of the movies coming out next year, try to watch these. They are worth your time.
But now, like with most trends, we are being overloaded with these fairytale rewrites. The real problem is in the movie department. Recently, the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Stewart, was released. This movie looks like it has great potential, mainly due to the twist that Snow White is mentored by the huntsman to defend herself. This film is set to be released in June of 2012. Only three months earlier, another dark twist on Snow White will be released in the form of Mirror, Mirror, starring Julia Roberts and Lily Collins. The twist in this film is that Snow White works with the seven dwarves to get her kingdom back. Both of these sound like they can be great takes on the classic fairytale, which, in reality, is slightly dark. The real problem is the potential release of another Snow White movie for the same year. Not a lot of information has been released on this other film since it is still in development, but two movies with the same premise in the same year is overkill.
On top of the Snow White releases, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is set to be released in March 2012. This one technically could be considered a sequel versus a rewrite, but it still follows the same premise that most rewrites do. It, like most of the films and shows discussed, has the potential to be either really amazing or amazingly corny. The corny and bad rewrites are what make the genre get old fast.
The dark turn fairytales have taken is a good one. It allows us to be nostalgic while digesting new twists and exploring the real tale behind the story. We just don’t want to be overwhelmed by this trend and get sick of it before it’s seen its true potential. This is not a genre that should get old fast. And it wouldn’t if the industry would just release a few movies a few years apart. Hopefully, all the rewrites will be a success, and we can enjoy this genre for a long time to come.