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

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

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

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

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

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