Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movie of
the Month:
Part 29

I recently
the follow-
ing DVD
for Video Librarian, and thought the results were worth sharing.

Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories [***]
(David Kaplan, 1992-1997, US, 12+ mins.)

Bettelheim suggested that traditional fairy tales, with the darkness of
abandonment, death, witches, and injuries, allowed children to grapple
with their fears in remote, symbolic terms. If they could read and inter-
pret these fairy tales in their own way, he believed, they would get a
greater sense of meaning and purpose. Bettelheim thought that by en-
gaging with these socially-evolved stories, children would go through
emotional growth that would better prepare them for their own futures.

--Wikipedia entry on Bruno Bettelheim

This unique release offers three short literary adaptations from
1992-1997. Christina Ricci stars in the first as a less-than-
innocent Little Red Riding Hood. In adapting "Conte de la Mére
Grande," director David Kaplan (Year of the Fish) eschews
dialogue and shoots in Expressionist B&W. As in the famous
fairy tale, Red meets Wolf (Timour Bourtasenkov), an androg-
ynous dancer in stylized garb, en route to Granny's house.

Once she arrives, Red finds meat and wine on the table, and digs
in, even though the talking cat (a puppet) explains their grim
provenance. After that, Wolf asks her to disrobe and climb into
bed, which she does before taking a break (for "pee-pee" as nar-
rator Quentin Crisp puts it). It isn't clear if Wolf means to
seduce or to kill her, but her final act clarifies the matter.

Billed as a "cautionary tale," Heinrich Hoffman's Little Suck-a-
revolves around a boy (an adult Cork Hubbert) with poor
impulse control. This time, Kaplan films with color and sound. Af-
ter tucking him into bed, his mother (Evelyn Solann) warns that
he'll lose his thumbs if he sucks them, but he can't resist, and a
pale tailor (Jim Hilbert) with scissors pays a late-night visit.

Kaplan returns to silent-film mode with the Brothers Grimm's The
Frog King
, which relays the tale of a girl (Eden Riegel) and a par-
ticularly grotesque frog (another puppet) who retrieves her lost
doll from a well in hopes that she'll sleep with him. (Their conver-
sation plays out though a series of title cards in which the words
"in your bed" get bigger and bigger.) When the girl reneges, the
frog follows her home to ensure that she honors her promise.

This set includes commentary on all three films from folklore
scholar Jack Zipes and Kaplan, who cites artist/filmmaker Jean
(La Belle et la Bête, Orphée) and author/child psycho-
logist Bruno Bettelheim (The Uses of Enchantment) as influen-
ces. Fans of Terry Gilliam, the Brothers Quay, and Guy Maddin,
and will surely find this collection of interest. Recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part 28: Carancho

Endnote: Click here for my review of Penelope, a post-mil-
lennial fairy tale with Christina Ricci and James McAvoy.
Slightly revised from the original text. Image from MUBI.

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