Saturday, June 22Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Tales as old as time

Trends come and go in Hollywood from fashion to A-lister; everything comes in and out of style and the world audiences taste in films is no less fickle. An example? Twilight. It dawned the vampire era in tv and film in 2008 and the fallout from is still being felt with films like The Vampire Academy, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Warm Bodies all being greenlit following its success. But with the lacklustre response from audiences for similar franchises in comparison to Twilights’ success the tastes have changed.
It may be easy for people to claim that now is the era of the superhero with another eleven films planned in the genre over the next five years. But in the shadow of trends rising and falling in recent years has been one far more consistent and it’s seen its fair share of success.
Revamping old children’s stories has been happening for decades, with Walt Disney himself drawing on the Grimm Fairy tales for many of his films, but in recent years it’s seen resurgence in a big way. Snow white, Red Riding hood and Alice in wonderland to name just a few have seen a golden screen makeover in recent years. Even Frozen, the highest grossing animated film of all time, took its inspiration from an old Hans Christian Anderson story, “The Snow queen”. Several of the characters (Hans, Kristoff, Anna and Sven) were even named after the author.
Not only are the stories being polished up and made new aesthetically, they are also receiving a moral overthrow too. Snow White and the Huntsman saw the princess ride into battle and ultimately be her own hero, Frozen saw the two sisters save one another, and into the woods presents a prince who was in his own words “raised to be charming, not sincere”. They give audiences the best of both worlds with fantasy coupled with a contemporary rationale. These remakes of classic fairy tales are dragging children’s movie protagonists into a new, starker, less misogynistic era.

The stories adaptability and constant potential for reinvention make them ideal for retellings, be they disneyfied or dark. One thing is certain; the audience is there – drawn in by escapism, nostalgia and entertainment value. Kicked off by Into the Woods released on Christmas day, a story compiled of several fairy tales and based on the Broadway musical of the same name, 2015 promises to be a good year for retellings, with big budget films like Cinderella, a Disney live action version of the classic, and Pan, a prequel to the peter pan story everyone has come to know, hitting screens in the spring and summer.