Monday, September 26, 2011

The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films by Jack Zipes

The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films by Jack Zipes is the book that inspired this month's fairy tale film month along with all of the fairy tale film releases on the near horizon. I am also giving away one copy to a name drawn from the list of guest posters this month--you still have time to submit your own. The guest posts have inspired more comments and discussion than my regular posts, so thank you to all who have participated.

This is an essential book if you are wanting to read about fairy tale film history and analysis. First of all, it's by Jack Zipes. He's one of the most published voices in fairy tale studies and deservedly so. No, you may not always agree with his opinions and conclusions, but you need to know them. Also, this book discusses a wider range of films than similar books attempt. It's not just the greatest hits as I like to call them, such as Disney and Shrek and Company of Wolves, for example.

Which brings me to the two goldmines of the book: The Bibliography and The Filmography. The bibliography of any academic book is always a critical element of the book, leading you to more research and resources you may have missed. The one in this book is excellent. But the Filmography is wonderful, too. Zipes states it is a first "stab" at compiling a comprehensive list of fairy tale films. It's the most comprehensive I have seen to date. I would have loved to have had it when SurLaLune was new and I was compiling my own limited lists with limited resources.

Book description from the publisher:

The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films offers readers a long overdue, comprehensive look at the rich history of fairy tales and their influence on film, complete with the inclusion of an extensive filmography compiled by the author.  With this book, Jack Zipes not only looks at the extensive, illustrious life of fairy tales and cinema, but he also reminds us that, decades before Walt Disney made his mark on the genre, fairy tales were central to the birth of cinema as a medium, as they offered cheap, copyright-free material that could easily engage audiences not only though their familiarity but also through their dazzling special effects.
Since the story of fairy tales on film stretches far beyond Disney, this book, therefore, discusses a broad range of films silent, English and non-English, animation, live-action, puppetry, woodcut, montage (Jim Henson), cartoon, and digital. Zipes, thus, gives his readers an in depth look into the special relationship between fairy tales and cinema, and guides us through this vast array of films by tracing the adaptations of major fairy tales like "Little Red Riding Hood," "Cinderella," "Snow White," "Peter Pan," and many more, from their earliest cinematic appearances to today.
Full of insight into some of our most beloved films and stories, and boldly illustrated with numerous film stills, The Enchanted Screen, is essential reading for film buffs and fans of the fairy tale alike.

Table of Contents (what I always look at first):




Part I

1. Filmic Adaptation and Appropriation of the Fairy Tale

2. De-Disneyfying Disney: Notes on the Development of the Fairy-Tale Film

3. Georges Méliès: Pioneer of the Fairy-Tale Film and the Art of the Ridiculous

4. Animated Fairy-tale Cartoons: Celebrating the Carnival Art of the Ridiculous

5. Animated Feature Fairy-Tale Films

Part II

6. Cracking the Magic Mirror: Re-Presentations of Snow White

7. The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood Revisited and Reviewed

8. Bluebeard's Original Sin and the Rise of Serial Killing, Mass Murder, and Fascism

9. The Triumph of the Underdog: Cinderella’s Legacy

10. Abusing and Abandoning Children: "Hansel and Gretel," "Tom Thumb," "The Pied Piper," "Donkey-Skin," and "The Juniper Tree"

11. Choosing the Right Mate: Why Beasts and Frogs Make for Ideal Husbands

12. Andersen’s Cinematic Legacy: Trivialization and Innovation

Part III

13. Adapting Fairy-Tale Novels

14. Between Slave Language and Utopian Optimism: Neglected Fairy-Tale Films of Central and Eastern Europe

15. Fairy-Tale Films in Dark Times: Breaking Molds, Seeing the World Anew



Some reviews:

"Jack Zipes takes us beyond Disney and DreamWorks to the many films that draw on fairy-tale sorcery for their cinematic power. With fierce analytic energy, encyclopedic inclusiveness, and imaginative verve, he enlivens an expansive history that reaches back to Georges Méliès's enchantments and ends with the complex grotesqueries of Pan's Labyrinth and Little Otik." —Maria Tatar, Harvard University

"The Enchanted Screen is a labor of love and a major work of scholarship, encyclopedic in reach and rich in sustained and detailed thinking. The ‘unknown history’ of fairy-tale film is lucky to have found such a skilled and dedicated narrator." —Stephen Benson, University of East Anglia Norwich

"Last year, Zipes (emer., Univ. of Minnesota) contributed a foreword for Fairy Tale Films: Visions of Ambiguity (CH, Mar'11, 48-3760), a delightful collection edited by Pauline Greenhill and Sidney Eve Matrix. This year, Zipes presents an extensive, well-organized study of fairy tales in the film genre. Zipes's knowledge of films from a wide variety of cultures is admirable. In the silent era, fairy tales provided filmmakers worthy material free of copyright expense. From the 1930s on, the film industry was able to put old wine into new bottles with both color and sound, a la Walt Disney and filmmakers in other parts of the world. Taking a fresh approach to major films, Zipes avoides the heavy use of jargon and instead offers clear, direct commentary on the films themselves and their oral and literary sources ... Zipes gives the reader 10 pages of endnotes, 12 pages of bibliography, 38 pages of filmography, and a thorough index--all in fine print. The influence of this book will extend for decades. Summing Up: Essential. All readers."
--CHOICE, June 2011 (R. Blackwood, City Colleges of Chicago)

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