Fairy Tales Re-imagined: part two

March 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm (Conferences) (, , , , , )

Fairy Tales Re-imagined was a two day symposium (10-11 March 2011) exploring the evolution, and contemporary relevance of, fairy tales. You can read part one of Fairy Tales Re-imagined here.

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Warning: contains adult themes and language.

Old Tales, New Platforms: the creation of Re-enchantment

(Chair: Prof Norie Neumark)
Sue Maslin (Producer, Re-enchantment), Sarah Gibson (Writer/Director, Re-enchantment), Rose Draper (Designer, Re-enchantment)

  • Professor Norie Neumark introduces today’s Re-enchantment panel by talking about the project.
    Says the term “multi-platform” is too cold for this work that involves and allows new forms, knowledge, and experiences.
  • Today’s Re-enchantment short being screened is ‘Fairy Tale Sex’. (Available at the Re-enchantment website + ABC’s iView.)
  • A lot of today’s Re-enchantment information is the same as yesterday. Currently exploring the Hansel & Gretel section of the site.
  • Fun fact: it’s believed that German gingerbread houses were inspired by Hansel & Gretel, not the other way around (- Gibson).
  • Gibson’s encouraging people to contribute to the user gallery on the Re-enchantment site. Anyone have some fairy tales artwork they’d like to share?
  • Rose Draper (Re-enchantment digital animator) talks about linear vs non-linear storytelling processes.
    In non-linear you have no control over how content is accessed and experienced. Both Gibson & Draper are from linear backgrounds.
  • Draper showing the different design stills from the development of Cinderella’s Wheel of Fortune (on the site).
  • Great images of different ways they communicated site design. Picture attached so you don’t feel too left out.
  • Gibson: non-linear positives: layering, potential to work poetically; interactivity.
    Disliked: things “disappearing into the bowels of IT”; every image being an accession number.
    As Maslin elaborates – the IT requirements turn ‘an intuitive process into a logical process’.
  • Maslin outlines challenges of producing an innovative project like Re-enchantment eg no established business model, rapid technological change.
    When #Reenchantment started, flash was big news. #changingtimes
  • Maslin encourages anyone looking to do a transmedia project to talk to universities, rather than traditional funding channels.
  • Q&A! Q: Any similar projects in the world that you could draw inspiration from, or share knowledge with?
  • A: No, tried what we wanted until we were told we couldn’t. (- Gibson)
    Pan’s Labyrinth website was inspiring in its world creation. (- Maslin)
  • I have to say, the second half of that panel was exactly the sort of information I was wanting to get from this symposium.

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Working Creatively with Fairy Tales

(Chair: Dr Esther Milne)
Joy Norton: The Curse of The Witch

  • Their darkness fascinates and scares. Assign to Witch the attributes of the “other”.
  • The association of witches with herbal law and healing has been lost over time.
  • In Hansel & Gretel facing their fear of the witch facilitates their emotional growth, learning responsibility.
  • Sleeping Beauty: life can keep us unconscious and asleep when we ignore our darker aspects (witch).
    Something new at the right moment brings life in.
  • Rapunzel: if we’re not careful, our hungers and desires can make us abandon our commitments.
  • Norton encourages us to meet our witch, accept what she has to offer, and start a unique journey into a new and wonderful life.

Adam Hunt: Advertising People are Cultural Thieves

  • Adam Hunt is providing an entertaining vitriol about the sad state of the advertising industry.
  • All purchasing is emotional, not rational. “How else do you explain high heeled shoes?”
  • Successful advertising makes you smile, presents an idea. (“If they feel good, they might just buy your product.”)
  • Fairy tales give advertisers an easy way to present an idea – hook into cultural subconscious.
  • Great example of advertising (& cultural thievery):

Raid advertisement

Dr Meredith Jones and Suzanne Boccalatte: Hairy Pictures and Narratives

  • Jones & Boccalatte are talking about their book Hair.
  • Boccalatte’s interest in hair stems from her journey from hairy half-Italian to laser treatment. Has offered to show us her (hairy) legs later.
  • Exploration of hair as appealing and appalling. “Hair is chaos” – impossible to control. (- Boccalatte)
  • Rapunzel : hair as desireable, magical, shared experience. Cutting of hair=separation from mother &/or castration.
  • Historically: heads shaved as punishment eg for adultery. French women who’d slept with Nazis: hair publicly shaved, and were tarred, packed onto trucks & paraded through the streets.

  • Gender duality of hair associations/expectations. Cosmetic hair removal treatments. Pictures of merkins!
  • Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard – lure of the hairy beast. Desire.
  • Hair as a keepsake, hair is memory, hair as life, hair as death.
  • Trunkbook.com – submissions (art & stories) open for the next book, on the theme ‘blood’. NB: Will only publish 1 menstrual & 1 vampire submission.

Audience Q&A

  • Q: Why do witches have pointy hats
    A: (by an audience member) Comes from traditional Welsh dress.
  • Q: What about changes to hair during menopause?
    A: Hair as journey: puberty and menopause, phases represented by hair. (- Jones)
  • Lots of questions for Adam Hunt to elaborate on how his anti shape discrimination ad got banned & cost him his job.
    Ad was done as part of the Gruen Transfer. Hunt placed shape discrimination on the same level as racial & sexual discrimination… A. Denton & W. Anderson loved it, but it breached the ABC’s policies & scared advertising clients of Hunt’s employer.
  • Audience keen to discuss the role of hair in Tangled and The Ring.
  • Someone who presumably wasn’t here yesterday has asked if new fairy tales can be created.
    A: World is full of modern fairy tales. “Like Charlie Sheen.” (- Hunt)
    True Grit as modern Red Riding Hood. (- Boccalatte)
    Old becomes new in the retelling. (- Norton)

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The Forbidden Room: From Bluebeard to CSI

(Chair: Thomas Caldwell)

  • @cinemaautopsy opens the final panel, The Forbidden Room, with a summation of the tale Bluebeard in his excellent radio voice.

Dr Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario: The Bloody Business of Fairy Tales

  • Dr Rozario wins bonus points for quoting Tolkien in her definition of fairy tales.
  • There are many different ways blood appears in fairytales: on Cinderella’s shoe, congealed on the floor, in a bathtub…
  • Rozario describes the evolution of the Bluebeard tale, with full synopses of different versions.
  • Different appearances of wishing for a white, pale woman with blood-red lips in tales eg Snow White
    In one: a man, having cut his finger, wishes for a woman who looks like his now blood-stained ricotta (only, y’know, more poetically).
  • Rozario outlines modern “Bluebeard” tales eg episodes of Buffy; Dexter; The Mentalist.

Pref Cathy Cole: Bluebeard’s Room – the lure of crime fiction

  • Bluebeard: empowerment through the need to know, solving the mystery, overcoming dangerous situation.
  • Tension created by clue placement. Anticipation of reference in every description, object, line of dialogue.
  • Suspicion as a survival skill.
  • Desire resistence… test of reader’s stamina & morality. To enter the forbidden room or not?
  • Would some of Bluebeard’s wives have been complicent or accomplices in his habits? Contemporary narratives say yes.
  • Bluebeard is an interesting character – charismatic, generous, sexual, foreign. Easy to hate him when he is different?
  • Growth of fear in culture, instilled from young age eg don’t accept candy from strangers, don’t go down dark alleys…
    …allure of crime fiction is ability to lift the lid on this fear, explore it from a safe vantage point.
  • Tropes of Bluebeard eg.need to marry wisely, choose well.
    Can’t help but be reminded of @margolanagan‘s Singing My Sister Down.
  • Cole presents Wikileaks/Assange as modern mystery – Bluebeard or Wife archetype?

Dr Terrie Waddell: The Forbidden Room in Cinema Narratives.

  • Waddell’s favourite fairytale: 12 Dancing Princesses (Brothers Grimm) -> exploration of this sense of entitlement to intrude on female space.
  • Importance for a woman to have a room of her own eg Wide Sargasso Sea, Tomb Raider, The Exorcist, The Hours, Pan’s Labyrinth.
  • Forbidden room as womb: place of safety, place of change. Violation of it= horror eg Rosemary’s Baby
  • “shadow projections of ego discomfort” – Waddell <- perfect description of Prof Cole’s earlier Witch/curse conversation.
  • Waddell’s exploring the archetypes in Repulsion– elements of Persephone, Artemis, Medusa.
  • Forbidden room as a liminal compass to the self – time must be taken to feel each character and narrative strand.
  • Waddell finishes with a J.M. Barrie quote: “Everytime a child says ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there’s a a little fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” ❤

Audience Q&A

  • First panel where chair has engaged speakers in discussion-@cinemaautopsy raises Bluebeard/Adam&Eve parrallels; & torture-porn (eg Saw) as spectacle.
  • Great audience questions & discussion in this session… the portrayal of female serial killers (eg Monster, I Spit On Your Grave)
    …if crime writers have an ethical responsibility to portray violence realistically…
  • And that’s it! I’ll be attending the ‘In Conversation with Jeff Lindsay’, but probably won’t have the battery power to tweet it.

Gustav Doré: Bluebeard

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