Thursday, January 27, 2011
An Eerie Little Fairy Tale on the 'Cottingley Fairies'
A Compelling fantasy drama loosely inspired by the famous “Cottingley Fairies” incident of 1917 which even attracted the attention of the Great Arthur Conan Doyle, this beautifully photographed movie is actually based more on Steve Szilagyi’s best selling book of the same name.
Set in post-war Britain of the 1920's when believing in fairies nearly reached mass hysteria and respectability following the discovery of the “Cottingley Fairies”; it revolves around young photographer Toby Castle (Die Another Day's Toby Stephens) who returns to England heartbroken after losing his new bride down a crevasse on the first day of their honeymoon in the Alps.
He returns home cynical and dismissive, despite living in the same society where new ideas about the after-life and spirituality are seeping into the mainstream. His views soon change though when he meets the mysterious Beatrice Templeton (Frances Barber) who shows him a photograph of her daughters playing with fairies.
Toby is soon convinced that they are indeed real after seeing them for himself and he sees a way in which he can be re-united with his lost love. This view isn't supported by Beatrice's religious husband (played with aplomb by Ben Kingsley), a manic fundamentalist preacher whose less than tolerant attitude ultimately leads to violence.
Winner of the 1998 Méliès d'Or award, Nick Willing’s “Photographing Fairies” is a rather serene film touching on many themes: grief, love, despair and afterlife while also exploring Edwardian society’s interest in supernatural possibilities outside the established realm of those days. Accompanied by a wonderful score, this is a little known British gem that you may never catch on TV.
Incidentally, this is one of the 2 movies that were made based on the “Cottingley Fairies”, the other being 1998’s “Fairy Tale: A True Story” – a more factual narrative starring Peter O'Toole and Harvey Keitel.