Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Spoonful of Dreams

Once upon a time . . . .

No, that's another story.

I've always loved fairy tales, especially the animated fairy tales and their more dramatic counterparts of my childhood. I have a collection of all the Cinderella stories, from Walt Disney to Leslie Caron as Ella with the dirty face, bare feet, and promise of living in the palace of the Duke one day. There is a growing collection of fairy tales from all over the world that includes Baba Yaga and her house on chicken legs that walked about the Russian countryside and a Cinderella from China who wore fur instead of gold, silver, and bronze dresses and shoes that a tree planted on her mother's grave shook over her when she wanted to go to the ball. Yes, that includes Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the latest version of Cinderella set in China once again but featuring a cyborg heroine with outgrown prostheses.

I love fairy tales and all they represent, so it seems a little strange that I would briefly wonder why a friend would have a list of children's movies in her Amazon wish list and very little of adult fare. I said briefly. 

That comes from someone that used to treat godchildren, nieces, and nephews to the movies when my own children were no longer available. I used the children as camouflage so I could go to the theater and watch a children's movie -- or twenty children's movies. I enjoy the simple pleasure of animation and stories with happy endings, even the latest version of Snow White with Julia Roberts as the evil queen in Mirror, Mirror. I added that one in streaming version so I can save space because my DVD shelves are full to bursting -- and not only with fairy tales. I have Doctor Who, all the adaptations of Jane Austen's stories, and more high brow fare like Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge and Sophie's Choice and Remains of the Day. I'm a fan of a lot of different types of movies, high and low.

So why do I keep coming back to the fairy tales and what does that say about me?

I could say they are simple pleasures from my childhood, like books I've loved and kept, which also include fairy tales. I could say it says I have a childlike nature or haven't forgotten what it's like to be a child (don't go there!) or simply that I'm saving them for my grandchildren, except my grandchildren live in the far reaches of the country.

Simply put, because I enjoy them. Not everything is do or die and the drama to end all dramas. Not everything needs to be so dire and full of hidden meaning that academics will quarrel over and write about for centuries.

Sometimes it's about a story that always has a happy ending and no one worries about what happens after the wedding.

Did I mention I have all the Broadway and Hollywood versions of Cinderella? Even the one where Julie Andrews plays Cinderella? Yes, I also have the one that was televised live from Broadway with Leslie Ann Warren as Cinderella and the lovely Celeste Holm as the Queen. Walter Pidgeon played the King and Stuart Damon, once of General Hospital fame, was the Prince. That was before Leslie Ann Warren had her teeth fixed and was a bit gawky and long legged as a newborn colt.

I think the reason is all of the above and a few I haven't even though of yet. In this hectic world where everything needs to be done tomorrow and everyone is scrambling for their shot at fame (usually on reality TV) or a piece of a much bigger pie than they have, it's a pleasure to return to stories that delighted me as a child and made me first want to write stories of my own, to fantasize about happy endings and troubles that wouldn't last forever no matter how awful they were.

If you have children's movies and fairy tales tucked away in your DVD closet or on the shelf that is meant for your children and grandchildren, take them out and watch them or read them. Fairy tales never get old and never lose their charm. That's something we all need to remember and embrace so that we don't get old and lose our charm. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. And a fairy tale, read or watched, helps life go down a little easier, too.


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