Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fairy tales in books and film

I watched Pan’s Labyrinth last night, a Spanish language film set in Spain during WWII. The heroine, Ofelia, is a young girl of about seven or eight whose widowed mother has remarried and is now expecting a baby. Ofelia escapes from the uncomfortable situation by telling stories to her baby brother inside her mother’s belly and by reading books of fairy tales. Although the adults around her try to suppress her imagination, Ofelia has gumption and often wanders off into the nearby woods. There, she discovers a magical labyrinth guarded by a fawn who tells her that she is in fact princess of a land underground and must complete three tasks in order to be reinstated to her rightful throne. We witness Ofelia’s tasks throughout the film and her difficulties in carrying them out in an adult world filled with turmoil and power struggles and devoid of imagination.

I loved this film because it reminded me of other, similar books and films from my childhood: The Never-ending Story, Labyrinth, Willow, The Princess Bride, The Castle in the Attic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Pan’s Labyrinth inspired me to pick up my new copy of The Book of Lost Things, as the epigraphs I mentioned a few day ago seem to indicate that this book will be similar. I don’t think that it will disappoint, for it begins “once upon a time.” I’m not sure what it is about fairy tales that has so entranced me since childhood. Perhaps because they tend to involve people or animals who are able to surmount their troubles in incredible ways while learning unexpected things about themselves during their journey. That’s just one quick stab at it. I’ll keep this thought in mind as I read The Book of Lost Things. More on this later...