Reality, Magic, and Other Lies

Reality, Magic, and Other Lies

Fairy-Tale Film Truths

Pauline Greenhill


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Reality, Magic, and Other Lies: Fairy-Tale Film Truths explores connections and discontinuities between lies and truths in fairy-tale films to directly address the current politics of fairy tale and reality. Since the Enlightenment, notions of magic and wonder have been relegated to the realm of the fanciful, with science and reality understood as objective and true. But the skepticism associated with postmodern thought and critiques from diverse perspectives—including but not limited to anti-racist, decolonial, disability, and feminist theorizing—renders this binary distinction questionable. Further, the precise content of magic and science has shifted through history and across location. Pauline Greenhill offers the idea that fairy tales, particularly through the medium of film, often address those distinctions by making magic real and reality magical. Reality, Magic, and Other Lies consists of an introduction, two sections, and a conclusion, with the first section, "Studio, Director, and Writer Oeuvres," addressing how fairy-tale films engage with and challenge scientific or factual approaches to truth and reality, drawing on films from the stop-motion animation company LAIKA, the independent filmmaker Tarsem, and the storyteller and writer Fred Pellerin. The second section, "Themes and Issues from Three Fairy Tales," shows fairy-tale film magic exploring real-life issues and experiences using the stories of "Hansel and Gretel," "The Juniper Tree," and "Cinderella." The concluding section, "Moving Forward?" suggests that the key to facing the reality of contemporary issues is to invest in fairy tales as a guide, rather than a means of escape, by gathering your community and never forgetting to believe. Reality, Magic, and Other Lies—which will be of interest to film and fairy-tale scholars and students—considers the ways in which fairy tales in their mediated forms deconstruct the world and offer alternative views for peaceful, appropriate, just, and intersectionally multifaceted encounters with humans, non-human animals, and the rest of the environment.


Pauline Greenhill:
Pauline Greenhill is professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Her most recent books are Clever Maids, Fearless Jacks, and a Cat: Fairy Tales from a Living Oral Tradition (with Anita Best and Martin Lovelace) and The Routledge Companion to Media and Fairy-Tale Studies (with Jill Terry Rudy, Naomi Hamer, and Lauren Bosc). Her fairy-tale research has been published in Feral Feminisms; Law, Culture, and the Humanities; Marvels & Tales; Narrative Culture; Studies in European Cinema; and Theoretical Criminology, among others.