24th Mar2015

‘FairyTale: A True Story’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Paul McGann, Florence Hoath, Elizabeth Earl, Harvey Keitel, Peter O’Toole, Bill Nighy, Peter Mullan, Mel Gibson | Written by Albert Ash, Tom McLoughlin | Directed by Charles Sturridge


Do you believe in fairies? If the answer is yes, don’t worry because a lot of other people seem to too, hell even Arthur Conan Doyle did.  FairyTale: A True Story may only be loosely based on the facts of the Cottingley Fairies and the photographs that fooled so many people, but is there harm in believing in a little magic sometimes?

When two young girls take pictures of fairies excitement grows when the photographs are tested by experts and found to be real, or at least hard to fake.  When Arthur Conan Doyle (Peter O’Toole) and Harry Houdini (Harvey Keitel) refuse to call it a hoax this seems to be the final confirmation that is needed for the world to believe in the magical beings.  Though some still try to prove them wrong.

Whether you want to believe in fairies or not is fairly inconsequential to this movie because in truth it is only based on the real life events, although the fact behind it do include the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle being fooled by the children.  In the movie Houdini states that there is no harm in believing something is real when it is done in a way that isn’t harming anybody or defrauding them of money so why does it need disproving? I’d argue this is the truth of the reality of the Cottingley Fairies.  The girls never profited from the fakery and did finally reveal that the pictures were fake, and in the end all the revelation did was to end the magic that surrounded the famous photographs.

The most surprising thing about FairyTale: A True Story is the number of stars on show in the film.  Peter O’Toole and Harvey Keitel have to be the two most notable, but with Paul McGann, Bill Nighy, Peter Mullan, and a brief cameo from Mel Gibson this is a very impressive cast.  The acting ability of the cast is shown on the screen and easy to see, especially the excitable Bill Nighy as Edward Gardner the man who introduces Arthur Conan Doyle to the two girls and their pictures.

Getting away from the whole reality behind FairyTale: A True Story, there is a deeper meaning behind the movie.  In it we see a family dealing with death and also the effects of a World War on the lives of the people waiting at home for the return of the people fighting for their country.  The hope of an afterlife is a way for people to deal with the idea of death and grieving for people who have gone, and in a way if the proof is found that fairies exist, there is a belief in the film that arguably angels could too, leading to an idea that there is something after death and the people who have been lost are not gone forever which is further explored in some scenes.  If anything FairyTale: A True Story is a fairly harmless tale of two children who wanted to believe in magic and wanted to take away the pain of a grieving mother.

With a surprisingly good cast for at first glance is a fairly small British film FairyTale: A True Story is one of those films that brings a little magic to the screen.  With good special effects for the time and with a story that may take many liberties with the facts the film manages to shed a little light on one of the biggest fakes that fooled seemingly intelligent people like the author who created Sherlock Holmes, and why is that? Because sometimes it’s okay to believe in magic in movies, if it at least brings a little happiness to your day.

**** 4/5

FairyTale: A True Story is available on DVD in the UK now, courtesy of Icon.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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