Tuesday, February 20, 2018

'Paddington's Director Signed On To Bring Disney's 'Pinocchio' To Life

From The Hollywood Reporter:
Paul King, helmer of the whimsical and acclaimed Paddington movies, has been chosen to direct the movie, with the studio hoping to being production this fall.  
Chris Weitz and his Depth of Field partner Andrew Miano are producing. Jack Thorne, who penned the surprise hit Wonder, is rewriting the script.
We also liked this gem of 'commentary', buried in the short article:
Disney... is currently in the midst of bringing to life, Blue Fairy style, its animation library...
Interesting metaphor and an intriguing line of thought to follow.

Stay tuned to Once Upon A Blog for an upcoming article on Fellini's wish to create a live-action Pinocchio, and some other fairy tales too.

Fellini's 'Pinocchio' and Other Unfilmed Fairy Tales

In the wake of the update on Disney's live-action Pinocchio getting a new director (see HERE for the quick news post), we thought it about time we finish this archived draft and give you some more Pinocchio news you might not have been aware of.

Did you know Roberto Benigni, who went from wowing the world with his film, Life is Beautiful to freaking everyone out with his Pinocchio, originally talked with Fellini about making Pinocchio, with himself (Benigni) as the lead?
While the Benigni Pinocchio film flopped, it did return the Italian sense of comedy to the story and there is a strong sense - or at least, various homages - to Fellini throughout. Perhaps it flopped partly because it didn't translate well to English (and the actual dubbing into English certainly did much more harm than good!) but in putting Pinocchio on film, Benigni did little more than try to remain faithful to Collodi (many would say "too faithful") and never brought a fresh filmic sensibility to the story, so that it would work in the different medium (ie. film, as opposed to the original, which was a serialized story). Fellini, though, had quite different plans for his version, which unfortunately never came to be.

Would it have been better, as in better received and a better-made film? Who's to say. The trouble with making Pinocchio 'a real boy', literally, is that the character, and his journey and stories, easily become the stuff of nightmares. the very least that can be assumed is that it would have been 'Fellini-esque' and therefore a very, very different result.
Here's an extract from the book I, Fellini by Federico Fellini, Charlotte Chandler (1994*), describing his love for Collodi's Pinocchio, a little of what he had hoped to do with the story (but never did) and how he felt about fairy tales in general:
A film I have always wanted to make is Collodi's Pinocchio. it would be different from the Disney version. in my Pinocchio, every time the marionette said something untrue to a woman, it would not be his nose that grew. 
When I was little, a book seemed to be something to throw at your brother... When I was eight or nine years old, I had my first happy meeting with a book that became a good friend to me throughout my life - Pinocchio. It's not just a wonderful book, but it's one of the great books. I feel that it has had an enormous influence on me. It was the beautiful pictures which first caught my attention. It was the way I wished I could draw. 
Through Pinocchio, I learned I could love a book, that a book could offer a magical experience, and this was, as it turned out, not just a book for childhood, but one that could be read forever, I have read it several times in my life since my early childhood discovery.
The end of the book is the poorest part because Carlo Collodi, as a nineteenth-century man, moralizes when the puppet becomes a boy. It is sad because, losing his marionettehood, Pinocchio loses his childhood, the marvelous life of knowing animals and magic, in return for becoming a good, conforming idiot.
Pinocchio was born in Romagna, just like me. I wanted to make the story as Collodi intended it, with live actors, but in the spirit of the great Chiostri illustrations. When I was young, I used to practice drawing by trying to copy those drawings, but I could never achieve what Chiostri did. I had many ideas for showing Pinocchio in the Country of Toys in the film I would make. 
Fellini's self-portrait/caricature
with Ginger and Fred
I did not identify with Pinocchio, but with Gepetto. Creating Pinocchio was like making a film. I could see the relationship between Gepetto's carving out Pinocchio and my carving out a film. Gepetto was making the marionette from a piece of wood, but little did he know that soon he would not be in control. With every chip he carved away, Pinocchio was becoming more. It is exactly the way I feel when I am directing a film, as the film starts to direct me. Gepetto though he was the one in charge, but the more he carved, the further he got away from it. 
Pinocchio was one of my favorite friends. If I could have made the film, with live people as I wanted to do, I would like to have played the part of Gepetto, and there was only one perfect actor to play Pinocchio - Giulietta**. 
I have always been fascinated by the fairy tales of Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen. Imagine - "Rapunzel." "The Princess and the Pea," "The Littel Mermaid"! I would love to bring those fairy tales to the screen. I have this vision of the princess there in her nightdress, so uncomfortable and unable to sleep, on top of a mountain of mattresses, not realizing that it is a pea under the bottom of the first mattress that is the cause of her distress. The scene is so developed in my mind that sometimes I feel I have already made the film. Poor romantic little mermaid who gives all for love, yet we understand, because each of us searches throughout life for love. "The Emperor's New Clothes" is such a profound concept. Fairy tales are one of the greatest expressions of man by men. Another reason I was attracted to Jung was his revealing interpretation of fairy tales as part of our subconscious history. 
Life is a combination of magic and pasta, of fantasy and of reality. Films are the magic, and pasta is the reality, or is it the other way around? I have never been very good at distinguishing between what is real and what is not..."
And here is another extract from an interview with Rolling Stone, titled Fellini's Language Of Dreams (referencing his ENORMOUS sketch and notebook, some of which can be seen online):
RS: Aside from the circus and the artists Of Rimini, what else influenced you creatively as a child? 
Fellini: Fairy tales. My grandmother used to tell them to me. She was a farmer, a peasant, and her stories ‑ since she lived in the country and was surrounded by animals ‑ always concerned horses, cats, owls, bats. So we grew up to respect and be very curious about them. And still today, when I eat a chicken, I'm afraid that suddenly it will become a prince once it's inside me! [Laughing] I've always had ‑and still have‑ this feeling. 
Also, when I was eight or nine, Pinocchio: The Story of a Puppet was an enormous influence. It isn't just a wonderful book, for me it's one of the great books ‑ equal to Homer's Odyssey and Kafka's The Trial. And for my generation, it was our first happy encounter with a book. When you're small, a book is something very strange that belongs to the world of adults ‑ something that has to do with school, something that takes away your freedom ‑ unless there are beautiful pictures inside. And mostly it was something you could throw at your brother when you were fighting [laughing). But ultimately, it was something that didn't belong to you. The encounter with Pinocchio was like coming upon a magical object ‑ it was a big bridge between life and culture ‑ so it had a special meaning, almost exorcistic. 
Now the author, Carlo Collodi, lived in the nineteenth century, so he had to conclude the book in a certain moralistic way. It ends with the transformation of the puppet into a boy. That, however, is the least interesting, and even the saddest part of the book. But, of course, it's true that we all lose the magical, childhood, Pinocchio part of our being ‑ being in touch with animals, with the night; with mystery ...in contact with life the way it should be. And with this loss, we become good idiots, good students, good husbands, good citizens. 
Pinocchio is a marvelous book because you can read it forever ‑ when you're a child, when you're young, when you're old. It has the simplicity of the Bible and lacks all presumptuous consciousness. And, indeed, it really is a work of magic. You can open it like a book of oracles, readjust one line, and it will help you. All your doubts and problems find an answer on those pages.
We think we will never quite be able to think about Pinocchio again, without remembering Fellini and his enthusiasm. It certainly will make us look at Fellini films a little differently too.

A little sidebar on the current 'Pinocchio' news to end: it should be noted, despite all this discussion of Collodi's serial story and the difficulties of translating the Italian sensibility of those stories for a non-European understanding (or affection), the live-action version of Pinocchio coming from Disney is not a remake of Collodi's book, but of the Disney classic animated film, so it will likely be even further removed from its origin in that sense. Not that, that is necessarily a bad thing. It just makes it different. That the film will be made in this era (2018 on), with the current social US American climate, in combination with the resurgence of interest in tale origins and research (such a the wonderful  #FolkloreThursday phenomenon), means this version-to-be still has many possibilities. Though intended, at pitch time, as a straight remake of the 1940 film, it's been the 'revisioning' of the classic stories (such as 'Maleficent' and Branagh's 'Cinderella' that have been most successful across the board - critically as well as in combination with popularity) that have made the most difference to how society is now viewing these tales. It will be an interesting case study either way.

NOTE: All illustrations, apart from Fellini's self-caricature, are by Fellini'/s favorite Pinocchio illustrator, Carlo Chiostri.

* Fellini was interviewed, with it also being tape recorded for his exact words, in 1980 and the book was originally published after his death (1993) in German as Ich, Fellini. Most of the book is written/related in Fellini's words.
**Giulietta was Fellini's wife.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

'Cautionary Tales' (or What If The Lies Our Parents Told Us Came True?)

End Title Illustration detail from 'Cautionary Tales'
Do you remember hearing this phrase as a child? “If the wind changes your face will stay like that!”

Gutenberg.org has a whole book of them, many of which are likely familiar, though in much shorted form, and all designed to scare children silly into behaving better. Though all of us grew out of these worries before adulthood, what would happen if the warned consequences of these frowned-on behaviors became real?

If you're not aware of the short film 'Cautionary Tales' by Us (writing and directing duo, Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor) you should be. This short film, created in 2016, is built on the folklore of, well, cautionary tales' and has garnered a lot of attention at film festivals, including receiving a nice crop of awards. (Check out the laurels below! And this is just a listing of the better known awards.)
The short was recently been uploaded to vimeo (in January 2018) and is finally available for the public to view for free.

Here's the synopsis:
A bizarre incident as a young boy left Aaron with an unusual facial disfigurement that has plagued him all his life. Isolated and vulnerable, Aaron seeks comfort in the friendship and understanding of an unexpected group of outcasts.
The directors were recently interviewed by Short of the Week, and had this to say about the inspiration for their work:
“The whole idea stemmed from the lies parents tell their children”, the directors reveal in conversation with Short of the Week. “We found it fascinating that parents tell their children not to lie, but they constantly do just that. We focused on the somewhat dark cautionary tales parents use to scare their children into behaving…We loved the idea of imagining a world in which these tales had come true and these kids have lived their whole lives with these disfigurements”.
Wikipedia has a great and simple explanation for what a cautionary tale actually is:
cautionary tale is a tale told in folklore, to warn its hearer of a danger. There are three essential parts to a cautionary tale, though they can be introduced in a large variety of ways. First, a taboo or prohibition is stated: some act, location, or thing is said to be dangerous. Then, the narrative itself is told: someone disregarded the warning and performed the forbidden act. Finally, the violator comes to an unpleasant fate, which is frequently related in expansive and grisly detail.
 And now for the film.

The audience feels empathy for the main character, Aaron, right from the opening and this inventive story is quickly told. It's not just about him though. It's surprising and touching, and well worth eight minutes of your time to watch:
Be sure to stay through the end titles to see the cautionary tales used, as illustrated by Giulia Ghigini (there are detail examples of the illustrations in this post) and, even if you didn't recognize them all in the film, you likely will then.
What cautionary tales were you told as a child?

Friday, February 9, 2018

'Snow White: The Return of the Little Things' Presented by the Puppets of Angel Heart Theatre (UK)

"A visually striking version of Snow White..."
This new steampunk-inspired version of Snow White by Angel Heart Theatre that has been touring the UK during the Winter season, is so very lovely and unique looking. We wish there was more info, photos of footage online. They appear to be close to wrapping this show with only a few performances left and by all accounts, it's worth making an effort to see (and taking any young humans along with you for a great introduction to theater as well.

You can see a few photos on their Facebook page, which shows many other beautiful puppets from different productions as well, all of which seem to have stories carved into them...
Here's the blurb promoting the show:
"Far, far away there lies a curiously mechanical kingdom in which everything ticks but nothing laughs. It is ruled by The Queen Who Never Smiles and she is determined to control everyone and everything, even time itself. Snow White knows what it is like to live in such an unhappy land, and our tale begins when she must flee for her life to escape the Queen's terrible jealousy. Seeking refuge in the mysterious Wild Wood, Snow White discovers she is not the only one who refuses to live in a world without laughter. Under the trees, little steps are being taken to bring about big changes."
Our Doc the Dwarf began life as Doc the Block: rough cut from a block of lime wood on an old Imp band-saw, then carved free-style with a couple of hand-forged chisels, before head, limbs and torso were all stitched, glued and pinned together, after which he was lovingly costumed and finely finished with a twinkle in his eyes. He's a right cheery chap with Northern soul and he'd love to meet anyone from that neck o' the woods
The show, one of three set for Dorset, is scheduled for Winfrith Village Hall on February 14, at 3.30pm.
Call 01305 853 783 for tickets and information.
We found mention of an earlier, alternate title: 'Snow White - The Return of the Little People' which makes us even more curious about this show... And we also discovered a wonderful pre-show opportunity (which gives us a teeny bit more info about the production as well):
The Puppetorium Pre-Show Workshop (1.15pm)Inspired by the 'Steam-Punk' look to be found in the show 'Snow White: The Return of Little Things', this accompanying workshop offers a unique chance to join James and Dave in 'The Puppetorium'. Here, marvellously quirky, makeshift (and take-away!) puppets will be created from a variety of found, re-cycled and scrap materials. Everything is provided and safe guidance given. This creatively buzzing workshop is led by two highly skilled makers, with over 60 years experience between them! Places limited. Cost £3. Suitable for ages 7+ Contact each venue for details.

While there is no video trailer available for their Snow White, you can see some of Little Angel Theatre's work on their show 'A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings' based on the story of the same name by Gabriel García Márquez. It's amazing and beautiful and very unique. This show is one of those theatrical wonders that caught our attention some time ago but beyond collecting notes and images, we never got time to complete the post, so we're very glad we have an excuse to bring it to your attention now! Enjoy:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

ABCs 'Once Upon A Time' Series Finale (aka 'The End' - for real) Coming In May (HEAs Guaranteed)

Note: yes we know we haven't included photos from this current season but we haven't ever quite been convinced that it was still OUAT that was being aired, so instead, we're indulging nostalgia for the fans.

It would seem no one on social media is shocked at this news. We knew it had to happen - and soon - but whatever our mixed feelings* about Once Upon A Time, it's the end of an era for fairy tale folk, and for having fairy tales getting some attention in a network series on a regular basis. Though story-wise, we agree it's high time the Happily Ever Afters were given out once and for all, (and those following since the beginning were given a proper wrap up at the end of season 6, with 7 only being a 're-boot'/experiment), it will still be a sad day to say goodbye to a series that has inspired a whole new generation to discover - and love - fairy tales in many variations.

From EW:
After seven years, 156 episodes, and countless twists on beloved characters, OUAT will officially say farewell in a series finale slated for May. Here’s an official statement from (the series creators). 
Kitsis and Horowitz: “Seven years ago, we set out to create a show about hope, where even in the darkest of times, a happy ending would always be possible. But we never imagined the happy ending that was actually in store for all of us – years and years of adventure, romance, magic and hope. We’re so grateful to our brilliant collaborators – the cast, crew, and writers – as well as our partners at the studio and network for making this journey possible. But most of all, we want to thank the fans. Their fierce loyalty and devotion was the real magic behind Once Upon a Time. We hope they join us for these last few hours as we journey to the Enchanted Forest for one more adventure.” 
EW: You already executed your plan for what you envisioned a series finale would be in the season 6 finale. So what’s that feeling like now trying to find a way to wrap everything up in a hopeful way? 
Horowitz: That’s something we’ve thought about long and hard entering this season. For us, the season 6 finale really was a series finale in the sense of ending a six-year story and paying off a lot of that. For us, this is more the feeling of Once Upon a Time, so rather than bringing everybody back to do it again, it’s more about trying to have nods to the past seven years, but really make it about what is that hopeful, optimistic worldview that Once Upon a Time has always embodied. We want to leave the audience with that.
And they promise that there will be many familiar faces returning for the "final-finale" this time, though no confirmation on whom just yet.
* Fan-fiction and cosplay with a budget versus empowering fairy tale based-fantasy that freshens well-worn tales for a whole new generation.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Chervona Vorona Creates Fairy Tale Worlds Infused With Her Heritage

Chervona Vorona isn't new to having her work go viral. It's likely you've seen a few of her images over the years without even realizing who created them. The picture at the head of this post, and the set it's from, are currently making the rounds on the internet, and the papier-mâché beast is certainly an impressive addition to the lovely styling and work of this Ukrainian artist's photography, and well worth the attention. Rather than just focus on this trending set of photos which incorporate her design, creations of costumes, props, her photography and digital work, we thought we'd also hand-pick some other pieces of her work to showcase a little of the variety she's created that you may not have seen before, with an emphasis (for us) on those that evoke untold tales.

Though most of her work doesn't appear to have titles, she calls this first one, "We Are Sewn To Our Land", which is a great expression of her whole artistic approach:

The following are a very brief selection from her various portfolios. Some have multiple pictures in the same shoot, (see the kitsune example below) while others are stand-alones. Either way, we think each of these shows her preference and propensity for creating stories in a frame.
(You can see some of Chervona Vorona's digital process in creating one of the kitsune portraits, in a brief video HERE.)

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Paradox Magazine:
Tell us a few things about your studies and your decision to become a photographer. 
Chervona Vorona: I studied to be an illustrator. But my job is only remotely related to my education. First I worked as a stylist and a decorator, but photography was what I needed to complete my aspirations. 
What is the role of imagination in your work? Your work is full of fairy tale images. 
Chervona Vorona: Fairy tales, this is the most important thing, my main inspiration, therefore, my images are of different ages, but they are all united by magic or a hint of it.
Maybe it’s because of the books read in childhood. Although I now read mostly fairy tales! Imagination is very important in my work! But of no less importance are things like observation and resourcefulness.
Darina (Dary), or Chervona Vorona, as the internet knows her, makes her own props and costumes and apparently often starts with headpieces, building the look from there. Her talents include altering old dresses, like the one for Beauty and the Beast, for which she used an old wedding dress, and the traditional folk-design wings she constructed for her "Wings of Hope" spread), as well as doing the styling of the shoots and digital work afterward.
A nice personal touch is that Dary also uses dresses designed and created by her grandmother, Zoya, who, at 66 was finally able to fulfill a life-long dream, after working most of her years to date in a factory to raise her granddaughter and two other children. The Rapunzel dress below is one of Zoya's creations.

And here are a couple more shots from the striking Beauty and the Beast shoot:

As a bonus here's a very quick video of Dary creating the Beast puppet:
We love how Darina makes creative use of her heritage, often in subtle ways in the intricacies of the designs or placement of things and people, and isn't afraid to try different styles (like this HERE - yes, that Julia Margaret Cameron-looking photo is hers!) as well as 'traditional' ideas of fairy tales, in creating photographic tales and designs. It gives her work a unique and memorable flavor.

You can find much more of Dary's photography on her Facebook page HERE and her Instagram HERE.

Sources: HERE, HERE and HERE