More Netflix movies being removed this weekend.
Last night’s soon-to-be-unavailable pick is Fairy Tale: A True Story.
It’s a twenty-year-old film and an English production. I had never heard of it until I saw it on the removal list, with some decent user ratings. As such, I never would have watched it if it weren’t coming of the available movies. But looking at that short list last night, this seemed the most appealing to me. Even then, I probably would have passed on it (and almost did) because they have it categorized in “family films” for “5-7 year-olds”. While I may have been in the mood for a “true story” (whatever that may mean), I really didn’t want to watch a show for kindergartners.
As soon as I began watching it, I knew there was something wrong with the categorization. First of all, for the American under-10 audience, following the accents and setting might require more attention than is readily available. Second, an opening scene puts at a showing of “Peter Pan” during the First World War. To understand, one really needs to not only know the Peter Pan story (in, at least, the play form if not the book form) and understand the historical context, both of the book and of the war.
The film also features Harvey Kietel, which to me just cries out “adult content.”
In any case, I decided to stick it out.
What I found was a dramatization of the “Cottingley Fairies” sensation in 1917. I happened to notice that it came out roughly the same time as the film Photographing Fairies, on the same subject, which Netflix also pulled from the streaming library without my watching it.
I’m not sure if knowledge of the true events is a help or a hindrance in watching the film. I was only mildly acquainted with the photographs; having one or two of them before, but never knew more about their origins. I have a suspicion that for the British audience, the story is a little better known than it is here. If you’d prefer to see the movie version first, then go watch it before reading further.
Essentially what happened is that in 1917, two young girls (16 and 9) took some photographs showing them playing with fairies. Eventually, their mother began circulating the photos and they made their way to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who published them in a widely-circulated magazine. For several years, it was quite the phenomenon in England, with heated arguments about the veracity of the pictures. The interest continued into the 80s until the girls’ deaths in old age, as they continued to maintain that the photographs were real.
The film was an interesting way to retell the story. It was filmed at the original location, and sports an top-tier cast. I still think that 5-7 year-olds would find it tedious, but I’ve not screen-tested that theory. It makes me wonder how the film was marketed back in 1997, and how it did with various audiences.
I’m not sorry that Netflix forced my hand and got me to watch this one.