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.

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

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

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

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

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