Fairy Tales: The history & hidden meaning of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

 

Transformation is an essential element in the fairy tale tradition. A change of appearance can signal or conceal a character’s true identity. While some characters alter their own appearance to escape or trick others, many are victims — transfigured as punishment. The spells that trigger these transformations are, in many cases, broken by a character’s moral redemption, or the compassion of another who sees beyond their altered appearance.

Talk | 10.30am Sunday 14 April

The story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has captured imaginations for millennia. Free at the Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) at 10.30am on Sunday 14 April we will be joined by the award-winning author, poet, and performance storyteller, Dr Kate Forsyth, for a fascinating talk delving into the rich history of this ancient tale in A Tale as Old as Time: The History and Hidden Meaning of ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

Book signing

At 11.30am in the GOMA Cinema Foyer, join us for a book signing of Kate Forsyth’s Long-Lost Fairy-Tales. Illustrated by Lorena Carrington, this new book available for purchase from the QAGOMA Store, is a selection of twenty-one little known wonder tales from around the world, brought back to life for the modern-day reader.

Dr Kate Forsyth

We asked Kate Forsyth about the importance of fairy tales in her writing.

Sophie Hopmeier / As an author of fiction, how have fairy tales influenced your writing?

Kate Forsyth / I’ve always loved fairy tales and myth, and I’ve always loved writing, so the two things have always been linked for me. My very earliest stories were filled with adventure and magic and mystery, and a kind of fairy tale atmosphere — a place where anything can happen. All of my books are very different, however. Some draw on fairy tales and myth explicitly, and others just carry faint echoes.

Sophie Hopmeier / As well as being a writer, you are also a master storyteller. What different qualities are brought out in stories when they are written or spoken?

Kate Forsyth / When I am adapting an old folktale for a live performance, I’m concentrating on reducing the tale down to its simplest and purest form, revealing the pattern of action within. All my stories are performed from memory, and so I need to create an interlinked chain of vivid images and phrases that help me remember which narrative component goes where. Poetic devices such as rhythm, rhyme and repetition are useful mnemonics and work so well in a live storytelling performance.

When I am drawing on a fairy tale in a novel, I am doing the opposite. I am expanding the story, developing a rich, complex world populated by multi-dimensional characters, and I am hiding the pattern of action within a woven web of action, dialogue and description. The fairy tale is a shadow story within my narrative, adding depth and symbolic meaning, and helping the reader make connections to wider themes.

Sophie Hopmeier / In your upcoming lecture you will be speaking about the history of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. What is it about this story which particularly fascinates you? Do you have a favourite version?

Kate Forsyth / ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has always been one of my favourite tales, but I have no idea why! I think it’s because it’s a story about a girl who was brave enough to face a monster and find the humanity within. It’s about seeking to understand what has been hidden, and about the importance of courage and compassion. I also like the way the girl must be strong and steadfast in her refusal, despite her terror of the Beast, and the fact that she goes to the Beast’s castle to save her father. I have a few favourite versions. The first is the myth of Eros and Psykhe, said to be the prototype for all the other versions. Psykhe must travel to the underworld and face the queen of the dead to save her beloved, which adds a greater dimension of peril and darkness to the tale. I also love ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’, in which the beast-husband is a white bear and lives in a castle of ice and snow, ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’, in which the beast is a lion and the girl must outwit the enchantress who cursed him, and ‘The White Stag’, in which the girl must undertake a series of seemingly impossible tasks to break the curse on her husband.

Sophie Hopmeier / Whilst most people know a handful of the most famous European fairy tales such as ‘Cinderella’, or ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, your new book focuses on lesser-known tales. How did you go about researching and selecting these stories, and why do you think they are important?

Kate Forsyth / There are just so many beautiful old stories, and it seems such a shame that so few people know them. I was also troubled by the fact that many people only knew the Disney version of a tale, when the original is so much darker and more powerful. Fairy tales are not just pretty amusing tales of magic and romance, they have a very important function as carriers of meaning and wisdom. I wanted to bring these old forgotten tales back to life, and help people discover tales that might move and enchant them.

Sophie Hopmeier / What ongoing role do you see fairy tales playing in contemporary life?

Kate Forsyth / As long as we have had language, we have been telling stories as a way to explore, illuminate and understand the human condition. Fairy tales are among the oldest and most enduring forms of storytelling, and their simplicity and vividness make them very memorable. This means they are more likely to survive and be passed down through the generations, while longer, more complicated stories are forgotten.

Fairy tales are often the first stories that children encounter, and so are the first time those children experience narrative transportation, the zen-like experience of being utterly immersed in a story. This absolute absorption in a story is the primary joy of narrative art, and it is addictive. Once we’ve been utterly entranced by one story, we want to have that feeling again and again.

Because fairy tales are narratives that cross the boundary of what is known into a realm where anything is possible, they help develop a vivid imagination and new ways of thinking. Ultimately this leads to creative problem-solving abilities and innovative thinking.

Fairy tales are also lesson tales — they teach us that there are right and wrong ways to behave, and that kindness will win out over cruelty, and courtesy over rudeness and selfishness.

Most importantly, I think, fairy tales offer us a stage in which to act out our anxieties, and to help us understand and manage our bewildering, complex human emotions. Fairy tales are full of dark, disturbing feelings — fear, envy, greed, grief, and lust — and it is a rare human who has not had to struggle to overcome such thoughts within themselves. So wonder tales help us deal with real-life situations within a safe and comforting environment, giving us the tools we need to navigate a world where the possibility of danger and harm is very real. Fairy tales are filled with joy, laughter, and wonder too, balancing out the darkness with light, and so they reassure us that, in time, the pain and suffering will end and all will be well.  They give us hope, the greatest gift of all.

Buy Tickets to ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition
Until 28 April 2024
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ brings together art, film and design that embrace exploratory stories of fantastical parallel worlds. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to explore the many dimensions of love in all its complexities.

‘Beauty and the Beast’

Drawing on both the nineteenth-century picture book illustrations of Gustave Doré, and Surrealist cinema, Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête (illustrated) has defined the public imagination of the 1757 story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont for generations. When Belle (Josette Day) protects her father by agreeing to live with the monstrous Beast (Jean Marais), she gradually develops feelings for him. The extraordinary cinematography and effects of this sumptuous film heighten the striking subtext that one can love another not in spite of, but because of their difference.

The costume for ‘Adélaïde’, (one of Beauty’s (Belle’s) scheming sisters in Cocteau’s retelling), is one of the few remaining items from the 1946 film set still in existence (illustrated) on display in the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition until 28 April 2024.

An enchanted red rose and a magic mirror (illustrated) also on display in the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition are two key elements in the 2017 live action film Beauty and the Beast. These objects were drawn from the Walt Disney Studios remake, directed by Bill Condon, and were inspired by the well-known 1991 animation. The rose beneath a bell jar and the mirror resting on a table showcase the craftsmanship involved in bringing the fantastic world of fairy tales to life on screen.

Production stills from ‘La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)’ (1946)

Production stills from La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946) / 35mm, black and white, mono, 96 minutes, France, French (English subtitles) / Director/script: Jean Cocteau; Cinematographer: Henri Alekan; Editor: Claude Iberia / Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day / Costume Designers: Antonio Castillo, Marcel Escoffier, Christian Bérard / Image courtesy: Société nouvelle de distribution (SND)

La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946) / 35mm, black and white, mono, 96 minutes, France, French (English subtitles) / Director/script: Jean Cocteau; Cinematographer: Henri Alekan; Editor: Claude Iberia / Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day / Costume Designers: Antonio Castillo, Marcel Escoffier, Christian Bérard

Adélaïde’ costume ‘La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)’ (1946) on display in ‘Fairy Tales’

Installation view of ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane featuring ‘Adélaïde’ costume from La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946) / Jean Cocteau (director), France 1889–1963; Marcel Escoffier (designer), Monaco 1910–2001 / Silk satin, wool cheesecloth, velvet, chiffon, straw / Collection: La Cinémathèque française, Paris / © Société nouvelle de distribution (SND) / 1996–98 AccuSoft Inc. All Rights Reserved / Photograph: N Umek © QAGOMA

Production still from Beauty and the Beast’ (2017)

Enchanted red rose under bell jar, and table from Beauty and the Beast (2017), Bill Condon (director), Sarah Greenwood (designer) / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Rose in a bell jar, Mirror & Table on display in ‘Fairy Tales’

Bill Condon (director), United States; Sarah Greenwood (designer), England / From Beauty and the Beast (2017); Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans / Installation view of ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane featuring ‘Rose in a bell jar’; Glass, plastic, wire; 61 x 36 x 36cm / ‘Mirror’; Mirror, plastic, paint; 45.7 x 21.6 x 5cm / ‘Table’; Wood, marble, artificial snow, resin, plastic; 76.2 x 101.6 x 101.6cm / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved / Photograph: N Umek © QAGOMA

TheFairy Talesexhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Dr Sophie Hopmeier is ‘Fairy Tales’ Assistant Curator and Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

#QAGOMA

Fairy Tales: Unmissable films & live music in April

 

In April, we explore the changing role of women in fairy tale cinema. Girls and women have been central protagonists of fairy tales for millennia, with the earliest recorded ‘Cinderella’ story dated to the year 7 BC. The experiences of women in fairy tales reveal much about the times in which they are told, as the rules, expectations, and possibilities for women’s lives have shifted. Cinema, a relatively new medium for storytelling, has become a site where older stories are reimagined to reflect contemporary gender politics. This month, familiar fairy tale narratives are unpacked and reenvisaged, as women and girls navigate complex social landscapes, discovering new worlds, and resisting injustice.

Screening this week & upcoming

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment’ is presented in conjunction with Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA) blockbuster summer exhibition ‘Fairy Tales’. ‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ which explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition as we introduce you to some of the works while curator Sophie Hopmeier picks her unmissable films each month during the program.

#1
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) MA 15+

Guillermo del Toro’s beloved story of enchantment set during the Franco dictatorship in Spain is a ruthless, but mesmerising coming of age fairy tale. Living under the thumb of her sadistic stepfather, Ofelia is led to an underworld realm populated by fairies and fantastic creatures such as a faun, who believe she is destined to be their immortal princess. Asked to complete three tasks, Ofelia’s quest leads her between the world of fantasy (rendered with an exquisite combination of animatronics, make-up and CGI) and the brutal, realistic depiction of a struggle between fascism and the republican resistance.

6.00pm, Friday 12 April 2024
Pan’s Labyrinth will screen from an archival 35mm print.

Production still from Pan’s Labyrinth 2006 / Director: Guillermo Del Toro / Image courtesy: Umbrella Entertainment

#2
Alice (1988) M

When Alice follows the White Rabbit into Wonderland she embarks on uncanny expedition into an astonishing landscape, encountering many dangerous and disconcerting adventures along the way. Jan Švankmajer’s first feature film is a strikingly original interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s nineteenth-century fairy tale, which strongly influenced the development of subsequent Surrealist art and film movements. Švankmajer’s Alice draws on this legacy, blending live-action and stop-motion animation and amplifying the psychoanalytic qualities of Carroll’s story.

1.00pm, Sunday 7 April 2024

Production still from Alice 1988 / Director: Jan Švankmajer / Image courtesy: Park Circus

#3
The Match Factory Girl (1990) Ages 15+

Aki Kaurismäki’s darkly humorous The Match Factory Girl is a ‘Cinderella’ story devoid of enchantment. Iris (Kati Outinen) lives with her mother and stepfather, who expect her to both serve them domestically, and hand over her pay packet from her job on the production line in a match factory. Dreaming of fairy-tale romance, Iris buys a special dress and goes out to a nightclub where she meets Aarne (Vesa Vierikko), who takes her home, thinking she is a prostitute. When Iris realises her prince charming is no such thing, she coolly seeks vengeance on those who have wronged her. Shot with Kaurismäki’s trademark unyielding flat tone and deadpan humour in the face of injustice, the film explores the difficulties of manifesting the ‘happily ever after’ ideal as a working-class woman.

3.15pm, Sunday 14 April 2024

Production still from The Match Factory Girl 1990 / Director: Aki Kaurismäki / Image courtesy: Palace Films

#4
Bluebeard (2009) Ages 18+

In this feminist retelling of Charles Perrault’s classic serial killer fairy tale, Catherine Breillat vividly captures the dynamic of curiosity, vulnerability and vengeance central to the original story, whilst reflecting on the nature of storytelling on screen. Cutting between the parallel worlds of two sisters reading Perrault’s story, and the story itself, the film throws the gendered power which underpins many of the great French literary fairy tales into sharp relief, pointing to the ongoing relevance of these stories in our lives today.

6.00pm, Friday 26 April 2024

Production still from Bluebeard 2009 / Director: Catherine Breillat / Image courtesy: Tigon Film

#5
Petite Maman (2021) G

The transition between girlhood to womanhood is a recurrent theme in fairy tales, and takes centre stage in this profound and luminous film by Céline Sciamma. When eight-year-old Nelly (Joséphine Sanz) accompanies her mother to her recently deceased grandmother’s house, she encounters another mysterious young girl (Gabrielle Sanz) in the woods. Capturing a child’s sense of wonder, Sciamma creates the possibility of time collapsing to transcend the inevitable cusp between child and adult.

3.15pm, Sunday 28 April 2024

Production still from Petite Maman 2021 / Director: Céline Sciamma / Image courtesy: Madman Entertainment

#6 Our wild card
Live Music & Film | Ticketed
Häxan (1922) Ages 15+

Benjamin Christensen’s wickedly humorous 1922 docufiction tracing the history of witches from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century is a tour de force of the weird, chilling, and supernatural. Blending an episodic account of the occult with lurid hallucinatory horror, Häxan holds a well-deserved place as one of the preeminent works of silent cinema.

Post classical composer Madeleine Cocolas will provide newly composed live accompaniment to the film.

6.30pm, Friday 5 April 2024
Häxan will screen from an archival 35mm print.
Buy Tickets

Production still from Häxan 1922 / Director: Benjamin Christensen / Image courtesy: Janus Films (SF)

Film props & costumes on display in the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition

From ‘La Belle et la Bête’ (Beauty and the Beast) (1946)

Jean Cocteau (director), France 1889–1963; Marcel Escoffier (designer), Monaco 1910–2001 / ‘Adélaïde’ costume from La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / Silk satin, wool cheesecloth, velvet, chiffon, straw / Collection: La Cinémathèque française, Paris / © Société nouvelle de distribution (SND) / 1996–98 AccuSoft Inc. All Rights Reserved

From ‘Peau d’Âne’ (Donkey Skin) (1970)

Production still from Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin) (1970); 35mm, colour, mono, 91 minutes, France, French (English subtitles); Director/script: Jacques Demy, France 1931–90; Producer: Mag Bodard; Cinematographer: Ghislain Cloquet; Editor: Anne Marie Cotret; Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Jacques Perrin, Delphine Seyrig; Image courtesy: Ciné-Tamaris, Paris / Jacques Demy (director), Agostino Pace (designer), Mine Barral Vergez (reproduction costumier), Paris; From Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin) 1970 2013; Reproductions of the ‘sky’, ‘moon’ and ‘sun’ dresses worn by Catherine Deneuve; ‘Sky dress’ costume: Taffeta, rhinestones, metallic fringe, beads; ‘Moon dress’ costume: Cloqué lamé, coated cloth, tulle, rhinestones, sequins, trimmings, embroidery; ‘Sun dress’ costume: Lamé, velvet, polyester, coated cloth, synthetic horsehair, rhinestone lace, sequins installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane; Collection: La Cinémathèque française, Paris

From ‘Labyrinth’ (1986)

Props and goblin king costume from Labyrinth (1986) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane

From ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ (2009)

Spike Jonze (director), United States b.1969; Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (designer), United States est. 1979 / Costumes from Where the Wild Things Are (2009) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane / ‘Douglas’ animatronic costume: Synthetic fur, synthetic hide, synthetic feathers, acrylic, cotton, latex, foam, polystyrene, nylon, fibreglass, lycra, polyvinyl chloride, speakers, animatronic power cables, plugs, fans, gyrostabiliser, cameras, video monitor; 260 x 96.5 x 96.5cm / ‘Max’ costume: Synthetic fur, resin, plastic, metal, wire; 170 x 45.7 x 45.7cm / ‘Carol’ animatronic costume: Synthetic fur, synthetic hide, synthetic feathers, acrylic, cotton, latex, foam, polystyrene, nylon, lycra, polyvinyl chloride, speakers, animatronic power cables, plugs, fans, gyrostabiliser, cameras, video monitor; 267 x 119.5 x 99cm / Collection: Warner Brothers Archives, Los Angeles / © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved

From ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (2010)

Tim Burton (Director), United States b.1958 / Colleen Atwood (Designer), United States b.1948 / Costumes from Alice in Wonderland (2010) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / (Left to right) ‘Alice’ costume; Silk, synthetic lace, plastic, metal / ‘Mad Hatter’ costume; Silk, synthetic lace, plastic, wood, metal, synthetic silk, yarn, velcro, synthetic fur, cotton, polyester, leather, synthetic fleece, silicone, glitter, synthetic hair, metallic thread, ostrich feathers, rubber, paint / ‘Red Queen’ costume; Silk, corduroy, synthetic jewels, plastic, polyester, synthetic lace, metal foil / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

From Mirror Mirror (2012)

Tarsem Singh (director), India/United States b.1961 / Eiko Ishioka (designer), Japan 1938–2012 / Costumes from Mirror Mirror (2012) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / Collection: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles

From ‘Cinderella’ (2015)

Kenneth Branagh (director), United Kingdom b.1960 / Sandy Powell (designer), England b.1960 / Glass slipper from Cinderella (2015) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane / Swarovski crystal / 20.3 x 19 x 7.6cm / Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company / © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

View the full film program (2 Dec 2023 – 28 Apr 2024)

Alice 1988
Alice in Wonderland 2010
Barbe bleue 2009
Beauty and the Beast 2017
Blancanieves 2012
Blaze 2022
Border 2018
Careful 1992
Cinderella 2015
Cinderella Moon 2010
Claire 2001 / Live Music & Film
Crumbs 2015
Donkey Skin 1970
Dreams 1990
Häxan 1922 Live Music & Film
Kummatty 1979
La Belle et la Bête 1946
Labyrinth 1986
Mirror Mirror 2012
Night of the Kings 2020
Pan’s Labyrinth 2006
Petite Maman 2021
Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha 1969
The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926 Live Music & Film
The Company of Wolves 1984
The Fall 2006
The Juniper Tree 1990
The Lure 2015
The Match Factory Girl 1990
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Princess Bride 1987
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 2013
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga 2014
The White Reindeer 1952
The Wizard of Oz 1939
Three Thousand Years of Longing 2022
Thrilling Bloody Sword 1981
Walkabout 1971
Wanderers of the Desert 1984
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021
Where the Wild Things Are 2009
Wild at Heart 1990

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication ‘Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Dr Sophie Hopmeier is ‘Fairy Tales’ Assistant Curator and Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

#QAGOMA

Fairy Tales: Unmissable films & live music in March

 

In March we venture into the surreal outer reaches of fairy tale cinema. The enchantment of fairy tales lies in their fantastical elements, which conjure uncanny images like pumpkin carriages, magic carpets, or houses made of gingerbread.

Fairy tales significantly influenced the development of Surrealism, with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) acknowledged as a forerunner to the twentieth century art movement. Cinema presents rich ground for the weird and wonderful forms of fairy tales to take shape in all their glory, presenting visions which are beyond reality, and drawing together the familiar and the strange in compelling ways.

Jean Cocteau ‘La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)’ 1946

Production still from La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (detail) 1946 / 35mm, black and white, mono, 96 minutes, France, French (English subtitles) / Director/script: Jean Cocteau, France 1889–1963; Cinematographer: Henri Alekan; Editor: Claude Iberia / Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day / Image courtesy: Société nouvelle de distribution (SND), Paris / © Société nouvelle de distribution (SND) / 1996–98 AccuSoft Inc. All Rights Reserved

‘Adélaïde’ costume | ‘La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)’ 1946

Installation view ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) Brisbane 2023 / Jean Cocteau (director), France 1889–1963; Film clip from La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) 1946; 35mm, black and white, mono, 96 minutes, France, French (English subtitles); Director/script: Jean Cocteau; Cinematographer: Henri Alekan; Editor: Claude Iberia; Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day; Courtesy: Société nouvelle de distribution (SND), Paris; 1996–98 AccuSoft Inc. All Rights Reserved / Jean Cocteau (director), France 1889–1963; Marcel Escoffier (designer), Monaco 1910–2001; ‘Adélaïde’ costume from La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) 1946; Silk satin, wool cheesecloth, velvet, chiffon, straw; Collection: La Cinémathèque française, Paris; © Société nouvelle de distribution (SND); 1996–98 AccuSoft Inc. All Rights Reserved; Photograph: N Umek © QAGOMA

While films like Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête 1946 (illustrated) is a paragon of surrealist fairy tale cinema, the strange and magical reimagination of older stories has continued and flourished, with fairy tale forms appearing in a vast array of filmmaking traditions.

Screening this week & upcoming

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment’ is presented in conjunction with Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA) blockbuster summer exhibition ‘Fairy Tales’. ‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ which explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition as we introduce you to some of the works while curator Sophie Hopmeier picks her unmissable films each month during the program.

#1
The Lure (2015) Ages 18+

This visceral and glittering interpretation of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ transposes the beloved tale to gritty 1980s Poland. When two carnivorous mermaid sisters come ashore, their tantalising siren songs and otherworldly aura make them overnight sensations as nightclub singers. A savage coming-of-age fairy tale with a catchy new-wave soundtrack, lavishly grimy sets, and outrageous musical numbers, The Lure explores its themes of sexuality, exploitation, and the compromises of adulthood with energy and originality.

6.00pm, Friday 1 March 2024

Production still from The Lure 2015 / Director: Agnieszka Smoczyńska / Image courtesy: Janus Films

#2
Thrilling Bloody Sword (1981) Ages 18+

A Taiwanese fantasy action remake of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, Thrilling Bloody Sword is a mind-boggling adventure. Set in a strange land, the daughter born of a queen and a comet is abandoned and taken in by a kindly group of outcasts. When she falls in love with a prince, their happily ever after is thwarted by a pair of wizards who control a bevy of bizarre creatures including an enormous set of teeth. This imaginative and unforgettable fairy tale reinterpretation is a delightful psychotronic romp.

6.00pm, Friday 8 March 2024
& 8.30pm, Friday 12 April 2024

Production still from Thrilling Bloody Sword 1981 / Director: Hsin-Yi Chang / Image courtesy: American Genre Film Archive, Austin

#3
Crumbs (2015) Ages 15+

In post-apocalyptic Ethiopia, where the vestiges of twentieth-century pop culture — from Michael Jordan to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — are worshipped as holy relics, a dormant UFO mothership hovering in the sky reawakens. Candy (Daniel Tadesse), a scavenger, embarks on a journey in search of Santa Claus through a surreal wonderland of characters including witches and Nazi knights. In this dream-like film, Candy’s and our own ideas about what constitutes a happy ending are called into question.

8.00pm, Friday 8 March 2024
& 3.00pm, Sunday 21 April 2024

Production still from Crumbs 2015 / Director: Miguel Llansó / Image courtesy: Lanzadera Films

#4
Dreams (1990) PG

Dreams is a series of eight, loosely related magical stories, based on Akira Kurasawa’s own dreams. In each vignette a Kurosawa surrogate played by various actors passively engages with surreal and archetypal situations including a fox’s wedding, an enchanted peach tree orchard, a weeping demon and a village forgotten by time. Shot with Kurosawa’s signature dynamic composition, this trancelike film highlights the close relationship between Japanese folklore, fairy tales and our unconscious fears and desires.

12.45pm, Sunday 17 March 2024

This screening will be introduced by Dr Lucy Fraser, University of Queensland

Production still from Dreams 1990 / Director: Akira Kurosawa / Image courtesy: Roadshow Films

#5
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) PG

On Valentine’s Day in 1900, a party of schoolgirls go on a picnic at the base of Hanging Rock in Victoria’s rugged Mount Macedon area. During the course of the afternoon three girls and their headmistress mysteriously go missing while exploring the rock. Seduced by the mysteries of the landscape, the ethereal young women vanish without a trace. Drawing on the fairy tale theme of lost children, Picnic and Hanging Rock’s uncanny reading of the Australian landscape has left an indelible mark on the national psyche.

3.15pm, Sunday 17 March 2024

Production still from Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975 / Director: Peter Weir / Image courtesy: Picnic Productions

Our wild cards
Live Music & Film | Ticketed
Claire (2001) Ages 15+

Loosely based on a 10th century Japanese story, Claire follows an elderly male couple on a farm in the 1920s American South who find a little girl from the moon inside an ear of corn and raise her as their own. This dreamlike black and white silent film was shot on an antique hand-crank 35mm (Mitchell Standard) camera.

Organist David Bailey will provide newly composed live accompaniment to the film on the Gallery’s 1929 Wurlitzer organ.

11.00am, Sunday 3 March 2024
Buy Tickets

Claire will screen from an imported 35mm print.

Production still from Claire 2001 / Director: Milford Thomas / Image courtesy: Milford Thomas

Upcoming in April
Live Music & Film | Ticketed
Häxan (1922) Ages 15+

Benjamin Christensen’s wickedly humorous 1922 docufiction tracing the history of witches from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century is a tour de force of the weird, chilling, and supernatural. Blending an episodic account of the occult with lurid hallucinatory horror, Häxan holds a well-deserved place as one of the preeminent works of silent cinema.

Post classical composer Madeleine Cocolas will provide newly composed live accompaniment to the film.

6.30pm, Friday 5 April 2024
Buy Tickets

Production still from Häxan 1922 / Director: Benjamin Christensen / Image courtesy: Svensk Filmindustri (SF)

View the full film program (2 Dec 2023 – 28 Apr 2024)

Alice 1988
Alice in Wonderland 2010
Barbe bleue 2009
Beauty and the Beast 2017
Blancanieves 2012
Blaze 2022
Border 2018
Careful 1992
Cinderella 2015
Cinderella Moon 2010
Claire 2001 / Live Music & Film
Crumbs 2015
Donkey Skin 1970
Dreams 1990
Häxan 1922 Live Music & Film
Kummatty 1979
La Belle et la Bête 1946
Labyrinth 1986
Mirror Mirror 2012
Night of the Kings 2020
Pan’s Labyrinth 2006
Petite Maman 2021
Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha 1969
The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926 Live Music & Film
The Company of Wolves 1984
The Fall 2006
The Juniper Tree 1990
The Lure 2015
The Match Factory Girl 1990
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Princess Bride 1987
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 2013
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga 2014
The White Reindeer 1952
The Wizard of Oz 1939
Three Thousand Years of Longing 2022
Thrilling Bloody Sword 1981
Walkabout 1971
Wanderers of the Desert 1984
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021
Where the Wild Things Are 2009
Wild at Heart 1990

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication ‘Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Dr Sophie Hopmeier is ‘Fairy Tales’ Assistant Curator and Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

Featured image: Production still from Claire 2001 / Director: Milford Thomas / Image courtesy: Milford Thomas 

#QAGOMA

Fairy Tales: Unmissable films in February

 

In February, the Fairy Tales Cinema program explores the changing face of fairy tales and the ways they blend with other storytelling traditions to reflect particular moments in time.

The fairy tale theorist and historian Jack Zipes has used the concept of the ‘meme’ to think about this ever-shifting continuity of storytelling, and the importance of fairy tales for cultural evolution. Memes, Zipes argues, play a similar role to that of genes in the biological evolution of humans. In genetics, successful mutations are passed on through reproduction, so that subsequent generations inherit advantageous evolutionary traits. As memes, fairy tales pass on ideas which give the receiver a cultural advantage.

Gustave Doré ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ c.1862

On display in ‘Fairy Tales’ / Gustave Doré, France 1832-83 / Little Red Riding Hood c.1862 / Oil on canvas / 65.3 × 81.7cm / Gift of Mrs S. Horne, 1962 / Collection: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

For instance, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (Gustave Doré’s 1862 painting on display in ‘Fairy Tales’ illustrated) warns girls off the dangers of talking to strangers, whilst ‘The Frog Prince’ provides important rules for marriage and mating. Because these stories contain ideas which ensure the safety and well-being of societies, they are passed on, with constant adaption to make their core messages valuable in different contexts.

Film is a key medium where this ongoing evolution can be seen, and each of these films reveals something about the time and place they were made.

Screening this week & upcoming

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment’ is presented in conjunction with Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA) blockbuster summer exhibition ‘Fairy Tales’. ‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ which explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition as we introduce you to some of the works while curator Sophie Hopmeier picks her unmissable films each month during the program.

#1
Mirror Mirror (2012) PG

Tarsem Singh’s fractured retelling of the Brothers Grimm’s ‘Snow White’ is narrated by the wicked and insecure Queen Clementianna (Julia Roberts). When her headstrong stepdaughter Princess Snow (Lily Collins) is abandoned in the woods and threatened by the mysterious beast which terrorises the icy kingdom, she is adopted by a team of seven bandit outcasts who train her as a fighter. With extraordinary costumes by Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka, this joyous romp brings a fresh and nuanced approach to the archetypal characters of the beloved fairy tale.

3.00pm, Sunday 18 February 2024
& 3.00pm, Sunday 14 March 2024

(Left) Tarsem Singh (Director), India/United States b.1961 / Eiko Ishioka (Designer), Japan 1938–2012 / Production still from Mirror Mirror (2012) / © 2012 UV RML NL Assets LLC. / Photograph: Jan Thijs / Image courtesy: Relativity Media / (Right) Eiko Ishioka (Designer); Tricorne Costumes (Costumier) / ‘Yellow dress with hood’ costume from Mirror Mirror (2012) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Silk taffeta, polyester, nylon tulle, synthetic taffeta / Collection: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles / Photograph: C Callistemon © QAGOMA

Watch | Director Tarsem Singh’s filmic adaptation of ‘Snow White’

Courtesy: Relativity Media

Watch | Dressing the Fairy Tale: Eiko Ishioka’s costumes on display at GOMA

Courtesy: Relativity Media

#2
The White Reindeer (1952) Ages 15+

This supernatural fairy tale set in the icy wilderness of Finnish Lapland follows lonely newlywed Pirita (Mirjami Kuosmanen). Consulting a shaman to draw her hard-working reindeer-herder husband to spend more time with her at home, Pirita’s wish backfires, transforming her into a vampiric shapeshifter destined to lure men to their deaths. Taking inspiration from the folklore and beliefs of the Sámi people, this stark folk-horror masterpiece draws on both avant-garde and documentary film techniques to highlight gender and societal inequality through the trope of animal transformation.

7.30pm, Friday 23 February 2024
The White Reindeer will screen from an imported 35mm print.

Production still from The White Reindeer 1952 / Director: Erik Blomberg / Image courtesy: National Audiovisual Institute – Kavi, Helsinki

#3
Wanderers of the Desert (1984) Ages 12+

The stories of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ are drawn from across the Arab world and India, and made an indelible mark on European Fairy Tales when they were translated in the eighteenth century. Wanderers of the Desert, the first film in Tunisian director Nacer Khemir’s jewel-like ‘Desert Trilogy’, lovingly explores the richness of Arabian folklore and Sufi poetry in their place of origin. When a young teacher arrives in a forgotten village, he becomes swept up in the mysteries of the town which has been abandoned by men, who are drawn to wander the desert for eternity.

1.00pm, Sunday 25 February 2024
& 1.00pm, Sunday 21 April 2024

Production still from Wanderers of the Desert 1984 / Director: Nacer Khemir / Image courtesy: Trigon Films

#4
Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) M

When self-contained academic Alithea (Tilda Swinton) unleashes an ancient Djinn (Idris Elba) in her Istanbul hotel room her work as a narratologist — or studier of stories — makes her wary of the three wishes she is offered, and leads her to ask for the life story of her new companion. This spectacular adaption of a short story by A.S. Byatt reimagines the stories of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ to reflect on the changing ideals of love, and the possibilities of magic in contemporary life.

On display in the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition, view the striped glass Blue and white Djinn bottle by Canberra Glassworks that Alithea haphazardly scrubs and breaks in George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022).

3.00pm, Sunday 25 February 2024

Production still from Three Thousand Years of Longing 2022 / Director: George Miller / Image courtesy: Roadshow Films

Watch | View the blue striped glass bottle at GOMA

View the full program (2 Dec 2023 – 28 Apr 2024)

Alice 1988
Alice in Wonderland 2010
Barbe bleue 2009
Beauty and the Beast 2017
Blancanieves 2012
Blaze 2022
Border 2018
Careful 1992
Cinderella 2015
Cinderella Moon 2010
Claire 2001 Live Music & Film / 11.00am, Sunday 3 March 2024 | Tickets on sale now 
Crumbs 2015
Donkey Skin 1970
Dreams 1990
Häxan 1922 Live Music & Film / 6.30pm, Friday 5 April 2024 | Tickets on sale now
Kummatty 1979
La Belle et la Bête 1946
Labyrinth 1986
Mirror Mirror 2012
Night of the Kings 2020
Pan’s Labyrinth 2006
Petite Maman 2021
Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha 1969
The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926 Live Music & Film / 11.00am, Sunday 3 December 2023
The Company of Wolves 1984
The Fall 2006
The Juniper Tree 1990
The Lure 2015
The Match Factory Girl 1990
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Princess Bride 1987
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 2013
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga 2014
The White Reindeer 1952
The Wizard of Oz 1939
Three Thousand Years of Longing 2022
Thrilling Bloody Sword 1981
Walkabout 1971
Wanderers of the Desert 1984
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021
Where the Wild Things Are 2009
Wild at Heart 1990

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication ‘Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Dr Sophie Hopmeier is ‘Fairy Tales’ Assistant Curator and Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

Featured image: (Left) Tarsem Singh (Director), India/United States b.1961 / Eiko Ishioka (Designer), Japan 1938–2012 / Production still from Mirror Mirror (2012) / © 2012 UV RML NL Assets LLC. / Photograph: Jan Thijs / Image courtesy: Relativity Media  / (Right) Tarsem Singh (Director), India/United States b.1961 / Eiko Ishioka (Designer), Japan 1938–2012 / Tricorne Costumes (Costumier), United States est. 2000 / ‘Swan dress’ costume from Mirror Mirror (2012) installed in ‘Fairy Tales’, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane 2023 / Silk, synthetic tulle, plastic, metal, nylon, feathers, resin / Collection: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles / Photograph: C Callistemon © QAGOMA

#QAGOMA

Fairy Tales: Unmissable films in January

 

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment’ continues to expand our ideas about fairy tales this month with free screenings on Fridays and Sundays.

Screening this week & upcoming

January brings together a selection of films which reflect the far reach of fairy tales. Adapting to different contexts, fairy tales such as ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and the ‘Arabian Nights’ find new resonance in settings such as the Australian outback and a prison in Côte d’Ivoire. Meanwhile directors such as Guy Maddin, Rob Reiner, and Aleksandre Koberidze reconfigure familiar fairy-tale elements to create new stories which range from wild pastiche to a comforting rediscovery of wonder in the everyday.

Fairy Tales Cinema’ is presented in conjunction with Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA) blockbuster summer exhibition ‘Fairy Tales’. ‘Fairy Tales’ unfolds across three themed chapters. ‘Into the Woods’ which explores the conventions and characters of traditional fairy tales alongside their contemporary retellings. ‘Through the Looking Glass’ presents newer tales of parallel worlds that are filled with unexpected ideas and paths. ‘Ever After’ brings together classic and current tales to celebrate aspirations, challenge convention and forge new directions.

Travel with us in our weekly series through each room and theme of the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition as we introduce you to some of the works while curator Sophie Hopmeier picks five of her unmissable films each month during the program… Here are five films screening in January you won’t want to miss.

RELATED: Journey through the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition with our weekly series

#1
Night of the Kings (2020) M

Set in ‘La Maca’, a prison deep in the forest of Côte d’Ivoire, where the prisoners rule, a new inmate must survive the night of the red moon by becoming the new ‘Roman’ or storyteller and enthralling his fellow prisoners until dawn. Drawing on the figure of Scheherazade from ‘Arabian Nights’ as well as West African griot traditions, Night of the Kings effortlessly blends social commentary with folktale.

6.00pm, Friday 5 January 2024

Production still from Night of the Kings 2020 / Director: Philippe Lacôte / Image courtesy: Rialto Distribution

#2
Careful (1992) M

In a fictional mountain town, wary villagers live in fear of avalanches triggered by the slightest noise, or even strong emotions. In this landscape infused with repression and rules, oedipal frenzies simmer just below the surface. An early masterwork by Guy Maddin, Careful is a rampant and hilarious melodrama, which reflects both the power and pitfalls of cautionary morality.

8.00pm, Friday 12 January 2024
Careful will screen from an imported 35mm print

Production still from Careful 1992 / Director: Guy Maddin / Image courtesy: Guy Maddin

#3
The Princess Bride (1987) PG

This beloved fairy-tale pastiche tells the swashbuckling tale of the farmhand Westley (Cary Elwes) and the princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) who must triumph over giant rodents and a murderous prince with the help of three unlikely kidnappers. Adapted for the screen by William Goldman, the story is framed by a grandfather’s tale read to his sick grandson. This family favourite is sure to delight on the big screen.

8.15pm, Friday 19 January 2024
The Princess Bride will screen from a 35mm print

Production still from The Princess Bride 1987 / Director: Rob Reiner / Image courtesy: Roadshow Entertainment

#4
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? (2021) G

In the town of Kutaisi, Lisa (Ani Karseladze and Oliko Barbakadze) and Giorgi (Giorgi Ambroladze and Giorgi Bochorishvili) fall in love at first sight in a chance encounter, but are thwarted by a curse, which magically transforms their appearance, so they cannot recognise each other. This dreamlike contemporary Georgian fairy tale is a gentle and heart-warming reflection on love, and the possibility of magic in the present day.

2.30pm, Sunday 21 January 2024

Production still from What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021 / Director: Aleksandre Koberidze / Image courtesy: Static Vision

#5
Walkabout (1971) M

In his hypnotic and scorching masterpiece Walkabout Nicolas Roeg transposes the ‘Hansel and Gretel’ theme of child abandonment to the outback, highlighting colonial anxieties about the Australian landscape, and the cruelty of Indigenous dispossession under the settler state. Following two children (Jenny Agutter and Luc Roeg) who are abandoned by their father in the desert and are helped by an Indigenous youth (David Gulpilil) on his initiatory walkabout, the film’s provocative beauty and horror still prompts meditation on the injustices of contemporary Australian society today.

3.00pm, Friday 26 January 2024
Walkabout will screen from an archival 35mm print.

Production still from Walkabout 1971 / Director: Nicolas Roeg / Image courtesy: Umbrella Entertainment

View the full program (2 Dec 2023 – 28 Apr 2024)

Alice 1988
Alice in Wonderland 2010
Barbe bleue 2009
Beauty and the Beast 2017
Blancanieves 2012
Blaze 2022
Border 2018
Careful 1992
Cinderella 2015
Cinderella Moon 2010
Claire 2001 Live Music & Film / 11.00am, Sunday 3 March 2024 | Tickets on sale now 
Crumbs 2015
Donkey Skin 1970
Dreams 1990
Häxan 1922 Live Music & Film / 6.30pm, Friday 5 April 2024 | Tickets on sale now
Kummatty 1979
La Belle et la Bête 1946
Labyrinth 1986
Mirror Mirror 2012
Night of the Kings 2020
Pan’s Labyrinth 2006
Petite Maman 2021
Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha 1969
The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926 Live Music & Film / 11.00am, Sunday 3 December 2023
The Company of Wolves 1984
The Fall 2006
The Juniper Tree 1990
The Lure 2015
The Match Factory Girl 1990
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Princess Bride 1987
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 2013
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga 2014
The White Reindeer 1952
The Wizard of Oz 1939
Three Thousand Years of Longing 2022
Thrilling Bloody Sword 1981
Walkabout 1971
Wanderers of the Desert 1984
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021
Where the Wild Things Are 2009
Wild at Heart 1990

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication ‘Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Dr Sophie Hopmeier is ‘Fairy Tales’ Assistant Curator and Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

#QAGOMA

Fairy Tales: Unmissable films in December

 

Fairy tales have always been a means of speaking truth to power; challenging injustice and providing hope. The ‘Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment’ free film program presents beloved classics alongside contemporary retellings and highlights how filmmakers have innovated on older stories to resonate in different times and contexts.

Screening this week and upcoming

Fairy Tales Cinema’ is presented in conjunction with Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA) blockbuster summer exhibition ‘Fairy Tales’. Curator Sophie Hopmeier picks five of her unmissable films each month during the program.

RELATED: Journey through the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition with our weekly series

#1
The Night of the Hunter (1955) M

A crazed and deadly preacher (Robert Mitchum) chases two children across a Gothic southern landscape in a story saturated in fairy-tale themes of lost children and a shimmering, poetic atmosphere. Lillian Gish stands as the children’s protector, fighting off one kind of old-time religion with another. A box office failure on its release, Laughton’s film is now widely considered his masterwork.

1.00pm, Saturday 9 December 2023
The Night of the Hunter 
will screen from a rare, imported 35mm print

Production still from The Night of the Hunter 1955 / Director: Charles Laughton / Image courtesy: Park Circus

#2
Kummatty (1979) All Ages

This poetic, ethereal film by Govindan Aravindan is steeped in the folklore and landscape of Kerala, India. Pied Piper-like trickster Kummatty (played by famed musician and dancer Rammuni) visits a village every year, where he entertains children with music and magic tricks, before transforming them into animals. One boy misses the breaking of the magic spell and must live in the form of a dog, awaiting Kummatty’s return.

6.00pm, Wednesday 6 December 2023
Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project The Film Heritage Foundation and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory, in association with General Pictures and the family of Govindan Aravindan. Funding provided by the Material World Foundation.

Production still from Kummatty 1979 / Director: Govindan Aravindan / Image courtesy: Cineteca di Bologna

#3
Blancanieves (2012) M

This exquisite silent Spanish film transposes the Brothers Grimm’s story of Snow White to 1920s Andalucia. Carmen (Macarena García) lives an unhappy life with her invalid father and abusive stepmother (Maribel Verdú). Suffering from amnesia, she joins a travelling band of six bullfighters with dwarfism and discovers her innate talent as a matador. Pablo Berger’s adaption of this classic fairy tale is at once romantic and melancholy.

1.00pm, Saturday 2 December 2023

Production still from Blancanieves 2012 / Director: Pablo Berger / Image courtesy: Rialto Distribution

#4
La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1946) PG

Drawing on both the nineteenth-century picture book illustrations of Gustave Doré, and Surrealist cinema, Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête has defined the public imagination of the 1757 story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont for generations. When Belle (Josette Day) protects her father by agreeing to live with the monstrous Beast (Jean Marais), she gradually develops feelings for him. The extraordinary cinematography and effects of this sumptuous film heighten the striking subtext – that one can love an other not in spite of, but because of their difference.

3.00pm, Sunday 17 December 2023

Production still from La Belle et la Bête 1946 / Director: Jean Cocteau / Image courtesy: Société nouvelle de distribution

#5
Labyrinth (1986) PG

The evolution of fairy tales on screen from the 1970s onwards was influenced by master craftsman, puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson. Labyrinth is a fairy tale from the viewpoint of Sarah, a sulky teenager who envisions herself as a put-upon princess while babysitting her infant stepbrother. Sarah (Jennifer Connolly) wishes to be free of the crying child, and the wretched obligation to her (not so wicked) stepmother. Her wish is granted by the Goblin King (David Bowie), who takes the baby, thrusting Sarah into an adventure in a parallel world – filled with an ever-changing labyrinth, talking creatures, a peach of forgetting, and an otherworldly ballroom sequence – to retrieve him. The dreamlike logic of the film shifts between states of childhood and adulthood as Sarah realises she is not as ready as she thought to be grown up.

3.00pm, Sunday 3 December 2023

Production still from Labyrinth 1986 / Director: Jim Henson / Image courtesy: Park Circus

#6 (Our wild card)
Live Music & Film | Ticketed
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

Join us for an enchanted journey through the tales of the Arabian nights in The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926. Painstakingly made over three years, Lotte Reiniger’s intricately hand-cut silhouette animation is the earliest surviving animated feature film and remains one of the most magical fairy-tale films of all time.

Dva (Linsey Pollak and Tunji Beier) will perform a newly composed live accompaniment on experimental wind instruments and percussion. Sophie Hopmeier spoke with percussionist Tunji Beier about the Live Music & Film event for The Adventures of Prince Achmed.

Get tickets Live Music & Film
Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA
11.00am, Sunday 3 December 2023

Production still from The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926 / Director: Lotte Reiniger / Image courtesy: British Film Institute, London

View the full program (2 Dec 2023 – 28 Apr 2024)

Alice 1988
Alice in Wonderland 2010
Barbe bleue 2009
Beauty and the Beast 2017
Blancanieves 2012
Blaze 2022
Border 2018
Careful 1992
Cinderella 2015
Cinderella Moon 2010
Claire 2001 Live Music & Film / 11.00am, Sunday 3 March 2024 | Tickets on sale now 
Crumbs 2015
Donkey Skin 1970
Dreams 1990
Häxan 1922 Live Music & Film / 6.30pm, Friday 5 April 2024 | Tickets on sale now
Kummatty 1979
La Belle et la Bête 1946
Labyrinth 1986
Mirror Mirror 2012
Night of the Kings 2020
Pan’s Labyrinth 2006
Petite Maman 2021
Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975
The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha 1969
The Adventures of Prince Achmed 1926 Live Music & Film / 11.00am, Sunday 3 December 2023
The Company of Wolves 1984
The Fall 2006
The Juniper Tree 1990
The Lure 2015
The Match Factory Girl 1990
The Night of the Hunter 1955
The Princess Bride 1987
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 2013
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga 2014
The White Reindeer 1952
The Wizard of Oz 1939
Three Thousand Years of Longing 2022
Thrilling Bloody Sword 1981
Walkabout 1971
Wanderers of the Desert 1984
What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? 2021
Where the Wild Things Are 2009
Wild at Heart 1990

The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ presented in conjunction with GOMA’s blockbuster summer exhibition screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024.

The major publication ‘Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

From gift ideas, treats just for you or the exhibition publication, visit the ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition shop at GOMA or online.

‘Fairy Tales’ merchandise available at the GOMA exhibition shop or online.

The Australian Cinémathèque
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image. The Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA provides an ongoing program of film and video that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere, offering a rich and diverse experience of the moving image, showcasing the work of influential filmmakers and international cinema, rare 35mm prints, recent restorations and silent films with live musical accompaniment by local musicians or on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Dr Sophie Hopmeier is ‘Fairy Tales’ Assistant Curator and Assistant Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA

#QAGOMA