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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
I don't know which frightens me more, that the children are lying or that they are telling the truth.
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..."I see only joy here." No truer words can be evoked to describe the purpose and effect of this beautiful film.
Charles Sturridge ('Brideshead Revisited' and 'A Handful of Dust') has assembled a cast that would be the envy of many other top flight producers and directors embarking upon a "serious" film. That is not to say this isn't a serious film, it is. It is marketed for children, naturally, but it has deeper levels that challenge the adult mind far beyond what one normally encounters in films directed towards adult audiences.
The quality of this script attracted such great actors as Peter O'Toole (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Harvey Keitel (Harry Houdini), Bill Nighy, Phoebe Nicholls, Paul McGann and a slew of other well-known British actors. You might also take note of Mel Gibson in an uncredited cameo at the very end.
Sturridge and his team of writers has come up with something beguilingly profound, flowing quietly beneath the simple story of two little girls who have managed to photograph fairies at the bottom of the garden. This is based on the famous "scandal" of the early 20th century when a similar event took place, only in the film the photographs are pronounce authentic whereas in the actual event in England the "experts" proved the photographs to be false. But the film does not pretend to represent the actual events but moves beyond them to a more fundamental issue of out times.
There is nothing "twee" about this movie either and it could have easily become mawkish and sugar-sweet in less committed hands.
I am left, after viewing this film, with Shakespeare's words ringing in my head... "there is far more in heaven and earth than meets [our] little philosophy."
In this blighted age of science and money-worship it is good to be reminded that we limit ourselves through our cynical prejudices and need to have everything proved scientifically, usually for profit.
When the condition of our lives and society has got you all blocked up, watch this little gem and weep for everything that has been lost to us. You will feel better afterward.
I will stop this commentary abruptly now by recommending 'Fairy Tale' to one and all. And get out the Kleenex box before you begin.
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