This year we’re doing Faerie Tales for school. They’re actually a Year 1 thing, but because Lydia’s Year 1 was seven years ago, half of my kids aren’t familiar with the stories. So we’re trying to work our way thru them all. Quite the undertaking, let me tell you! There are a LOT of faerie tales out there, and a lot of different spins on them!
((NoTe: Next year I want to do musicals… a la “My Fair Lady”, “Sound of Music”, “Oklahoma”, “Phantom of the Opera” et al. The next year the plan is to alternate Shakespeare with Opera. Yes, why yes, I’m ambitious.))
But I wanted to do a faerie tale post, for my homeschool archive, so that I’ve at least told about what we’re doing. So this is how it goes: we read the story (from Grimm’s, H.C. Anderson, etc.), then we watch the movies, as many versions as I can find… and discuss what’s different/same about them, and if/why we like them. Then we do our artwork – this year we’re doing charcoals – of whatever faerie tale we’re doing. That’s a new thing – we did “T’was the Night before Christmas” for the first half of the semester, and so we’re finishing the year with the faerie tales, playing a little catch-up. And that’s okay, because sometimes we’re several WEEKS on a faerie tale. For example, there are something like TEN movie versions to watch of ‘Cinderella’. It’s crazy, out there!
Here are the ones that we’ve done… mostly using the library video collection, Blockbuster on-line, and my home collection, as well. And I’ll add to this list as I go along. But in case you wondered about the different versions:
~~~~~~~~~~~~ Snow White ~~~~~~~~~~~~
All three of these are quirky and cute, in their own ways. We liked them very much. The middle one is our favorite – the kids like Bubba (African-American dwarf), although Lydia has trouble with the witch’s nose-hairs… LoL! Lily Collins was THE best snow white, but the movie was over-the-top twinky.
Personally, I thought these were too adult, but… THOR and BELLA, hello! They actually liked it… and so did I, even though it was kind of a sinister version. So they got to see the first one, but Brian and I watched the second two… and said NO to them for the kids. Some of these versions are kind of skeery, FYI! ((Although I did like that she ended up with a ‘dwarf’ in the last one… the love story was beautiful, even though the zombies were icky, icky, icky and it seems just wrong to kill off dwarves.))
I actually own both of these, the Brandy version being my favorite. I love the multiculturalism, the songs, the magic of it. And homigosh, Jack Bristow as the King? And Jason Alexander, dancing? How can you not love the Whitney Houston version!? And the prince can SING.
In their day, these were HUGE… both the same versions as Brandy (with the same songs, same characters), but they’re all done differently. These two just… got overshadowed, in time…
These two are painful to watch – kind of like watching someone pick a scab. The first one had NO redeeming qualities, but the second… but I’m a Drew Seely fan. The dance sequences were fun, and the idea was cute – a rock star (prince of the pop scene) decides to have a ‘normal’ school year, but hosts a contest to find his date for the prom… r’something. But the execution of that idea was BADLY done.
More favorites that we own… my kids love the Matthew Broderick version best of ALL – personally I like his father (he was on ‘Benson’, years ago, and he’s a hoot). Besides… the girl from ‘Fame’ and they have the principle from ‘Grease’ as the stepmother… and a southern Faerie godmother? It was perfect. The middle one with Drew Barrymore is VERY well done, too… but more grounded in realism, which is special in its own right. And it has Leonardo Da Vinci as the fairy godmother… a great twist. The scenery and medieval aspects were spot on.
Yes, this IS a Cinderella story. And Voldemort with JLo…!!! Very fun – a maid and a politician (america’s royalty), and some Simon & Garfunkel and Bread thrown in? Oh, SO me! And the Hilary Duff one is… okay cheesy, but the kids liked it, and I own both of these, and… well, it’s kind of fun. I like Zorro… and how instead of a slipper, she loses her cellphone (“I don’t know who this belongs to, but she gets weird messages… like ‘come fix fryer’.”)
In hindsight, I found THREE more – one with Katerina Witt on ice, and… a musical version starring Richard Chamberlain, done beautifully (with the BEST faerie godmother), and a ballet starring Leslie Caron and Keenan Wynn, in which Elsa Lancaster is the stepmother. Can you believe it?!
~~~~~~~~~~~~ Beauty & the Beast ~~~~~~~~~~~~
All of which were *wonderful!* I was shocked that Rebecca De Mornay could pull off such a good Belle (and it’s a musical, and she sings well!)… and we’d never seen Penelope (which is a reversal on the story), but we fell in LOVE with it – watched it THREE times, and will have to buy it, in the end, I suspect!
A little more ‘grown up’, but we enjoyed them both, just not as much. Personally I liked Beastly because of Neil Patrick Harris (but the book is better by miles, fwiw). But the Faerie Tale Theater version is very dark and scary. Even if Speed Racer’s mom is Beauty. It bothered my kids. It’s not ‘scary’, just disturbing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sleeping Beauty~~~~~~~~~~~~
Only three, here… but Christopher Reeves was *stellar* in BOTH of his roles. I have to tell you… it’s his best part, EVER… not as Prince Charming, but as the icky Spanish Prince that screams when a poodle chases him and speaks in a nasally British accent. Riotous! And of course there’s a twist to the Sesame Street version you probably already see coming…
Only three versions of this, too… one with the little guy from ‘Love Boat’, and the other with Billy Barty and Amy Irving… which was the cutest one. Then the Kermit version, which… I don’t get. Bruce?? Anyhow… in general, Rumple is kind of disturbing. Unless you read this version.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Little Mermaid ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Disney’s is hands-down the best. But ONLY in this instance… mostly we find others that we like better, which is amazing, in hindsight. The Faerie Tale Theatre version? Not so wonderful. But closest to the original. Which is actually a major downer, where stories are concerned.
Aquamarine was cute, in a teenie-bopper kind of a way, but it was shallow (haha, punny) for a mermaid movie. And of COURSE you have to include Splash. My kids liked Splash. My mother HATED John Candy in it when I was growing up, I remember it being a HUGE gasp factor, but in hindsight, he really wasn’t as bad as I remember. Or is it we’re desensitized compared to what we were in the 80s?
~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Frog Prince~~~~~~~~~~~~
All three had their cute/dumb parts. We liked the first one, for all of her air-headedness. The Disney version is a leap… and we fast forwarded the Shadow Man. Not so big on that one, but I got it for a buck at the library book sale, so… how could I not buy it? But Kermit’s was great, though. My kids loved poor, hungry Sweetums, and I liked the princess who can only beak spackwards. It was a twun fist on the story. And in order to break the spell, you have to figure out what they have to do: Bake the hall in the candle of her brain. What do YOU think it means?
My kids LOVE Robin Williams as the frog (NoTe: he does call the princess a bitch and later flips her off with his flipper, though… warning to sensitive parents). The middle one is more modern, and has GREAT animated frogs… it’s Brian’s favorite, with Martin Short as the sidekick and Christina Applegate as his true love. And the last one, you won’t find. Trust me. My copy is rare… and yes, she was the original movie “Annie”.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ Red Riding Hood ~~~~~~~~~~~~
The first one is done by the Twilight producer, and has Bella’s Dad (and the black wolf from New Moon) on it. I thought it might be too scary for the kids, but it was hands down ALL of our favorite versions. The second is a musical version with Joey from NSync as the wolf. It’s funny, but hokey. The third is another musical version, with the dude from ‘Coach’ and Isabella Rosellini. It was very well done.
Hoodwinked is… animated. That should tell you it’s 100% charicature, and deviates a LOT from the story. But it was a fun watch. The Faerie Tale Theatre’s version was clever and the wolf and Granny were quirky and fun (and Mary Steenburgen is always lovely). Hoodwinked Too? Not so good, in spite of Glenn Close, David Ogden Steirs, and Joan Cusack. It was ‘meh’.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ Three Little Pigs ~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Faerie Tale Theatre version has Billy Crystal & Jeff Goldblum, but it’s… meh. The Blues Clues version is cute, but simple (and at the end of a LONG line of stories). The puppet show one is actually very, very cute.
Disney did two – the ‘Who’s afraid of the big, bad, Wolf’ one, and then
also about a decade later, ‘Practical Pig’ – which was a return of the wolf (and his sons).
The Looney Tunes version is slapstick-y (as always), but Sesame Street’s is my personal favorite. It’s actually on our VHS tape, “Big Bird’s Story Time”, but you can see it on YouTube here. And then, a surprise favorite of ALL of us is this comedian’s version of the story!
~~~~~~~~~~~~ Still to Do ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Rapunzel, Thumbelina, Snow Queen, Aladdin,
Twelve Dancing Princesses, Jack/Beanstalk, Three Bears,
Puss in Boots, Pied Piper, The Nightengale, Emperor’s New Clothes,
Princess/Pea, Rip van Winkle, Hansel/Gretel
So as you can see, there are a LOT of options out there, and we’ve been having a ball watching them, comparing/contrasting, and laughing at the different takes on them. It’s been a fun year… and we’ve still got a long way to go!