Based on factual accounts, this is the story of two young girls that, somehow, have the ability to take pictures of winged beings... which certainly causes quite a stir throughout England during the time of the first World War. Everyone, except the girls who think it's quite normal, are excited about this "photographic proof" that fairies exist... even the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini pay the girls a visit.Written by
BOB STEBBINS <email@example.com>
The film is based on the true story of the Cottingley Fairies. In the summer of 1917, Frances Griffiths (then ten years old) and her cousin Elsie Wright (then sixteen years old) were living with Elsie's parents in the town of Cottingley in West Yorkshire. Using Arthur Wright's camera, the girls took a series of pictures of themselves with fairies in the nearby woodland brook of Cottingley Beck. (The woodland scenes in "FairyTale: A True Story" are filmed in Cottingley Beck, the actual location where Frances and Elsie supposedly encountered the fairies in 1917.) The photographs became public in 1919 (not during World War I, as depicted in the film), when Elsie's mother gave the photos to Edward Gardner, President of the Theosophical Society of Bradford. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published the photos with an article on spiritualism in "The Strand" Magazine in December 1920. Opinions over the authenticity of the photos were divided. Several photographic experts examined them and pronounced them "genuine," while other photo experts found "evidence of fakery." (A few experts who examined the photos noted that the "fairies" had "Parisienne-style haircuts," which were popular in the day.) In the end, no real harm came from the photos. The two girls never accepted any money for them, or tried to swindle anyone with their claims of fairy encounters. Years later, as adults, the girls admitted they had faked the photos using cardboard cutouts of fairies taken from a children's book. Elsie explained that they were too embarrassed to admit the truth about the photos after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes, accepted them as genuine. However, Frances insisted until her death that at least one of the "fairy photos" was real. Frances died in 1986, and Elsie died in 1988. The original photos, and the cameras the girls used to take them, are now in the National Media Museum in Bradford, England. See more »
The kind of movie that could almost persuade you that fairies were real. The story is that of the Cottingley Fairy photographs of the 1920s (taken by two Yorkshire girls who later revealed they were fakes) those fooled included celebrated writer Arthur Conan Doyle (played here effectively by Peter O'Toole) while cynics included magician Harry Houdini (a charming role for Harvey Keitel, who manages not to swear and keep his clothes on for once).
The supporting cast are excellent Paul McGann as the girls' dad/uncle; Tim McInnerny and Bill Nighy as journalist snoops; and Phoebe Nicholls as the girls' mother/aunt. The girls themselves are played with ease by Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl. Mel Gibson has a tiny cameo at the end (I don't want to spoil it by saying as what).
A thumbs-up, too, for the special effects achieved in this movie. The movie certainly is sentimental and does seem to come down on the side of the unknown and imply that the girls' claims were true, but it is a terrific family film I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.
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