The Wonders Film Series – Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Fantasy

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This holiday season tap into a world of wonders with this lineup of fairytales, folkslore, and fantasy films presented by VIFF. These classics and cult favouries are told and retold by Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm, Scheherazade, Walt Disney, Jean Cocteau, Guillermo del Toro, Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg, to name but a few.

The Wonders Film Series
Featuring Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Fantasy

  • Dates: December 20, 2023 to January 4, 2024
  • Address: VIFF Centre (1181 Seymour St, Vancouver)
  • Tickets: Available online now. $8 for youth, and adults can save on multi-ticket packs and passes.
The Wonders Fairytales VIFF 1

Family-Friendly Highlights in the Series

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Walt Disney’s first animated feature film is a Technicolor musical adapted from the Brothers Grimm tale, first published in 1812. The movie premiered December 21, 1937 before an audience that included Judy Garland, Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich, and proved a smash hit. Get tickets »

People don’t talk about Tomm Moore the way they talk about Hayao Miyazaki or Pixar, but they should. Each of the Irish animator’s three features is a precious jewel, firmly planted in ancient Celtic mythology but shimmering with vitality and intelligenceWolfwalkers is a worthy follow up to The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. Get tickets »

La Belle et la Bête
Jean Cocteau’s sublime adaptation of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont’s fairy-tale masterpiece. Cocteau’s film begins with a plea for “childlike simplicity”. And who could resist such an exquisite fairy tale, a medieval tableau brought to life? Superbly shot in limpid monochrome by the great DP Henri Alekan, it’s a tender, romantic film with living statuary (the baroque castle is courtesy of designer Christian Bérard) and an elegant — yet cuddly — beast (played by the director’s lover and muse, Jean Marais and modelled after the latter’s Alaskan husky). It’s every bit as enchanting as Cocteau intended, and an enduring influence on directors like Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson. Get tickets »

Into the Woods
Mix and matching Jack and the BeanstalkCinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel, Steven Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical is like Shrek for grownups: smart, sophisticated, imbuing these classic characters with psychological depth and emotional complexity. Disney’s screen version – directed by Rob Marshall (ChicagoNine) stays close to the structure and intent of the original stage version, and doesn’t soften the shift to a darker register in the second half. It also comes jam-packed with rich character parts performed by an all-star cast: Meryl Streep as the witch, Emily Blunt as the baker’s wife, Johnny Depp as the wolf, for starters. As for the music, it’s never sounded better. Get tickets »

The Wonders Fairytales VIFF 2

The Wizard of Oz
A cultural touchstone for generations, MGM’s musical adaptation of Frank L Baum’s turn of the century fantasy novel is so deeply embedded in the popular imagination that some critics have suggested you can find its traces in almost every American movie made in the latter half of the 20th Century. Over the Rainbow won the Academy Award for Best Song that year. Get tickets »

The Red Shoes
The son of a shoemaker, Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Red Shoes in 1845, a fable about a young girl possessed by a pair of magical dancing shoes. A century later, the Anglo-Hungarian dream team Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger settled on the fairy tale as the basis for the climactic ballet sequence in what, even now, is recognized as the greatest dance film ever made. The fairy tale’s themes are mirrored in the movie’s backstage drama, a triangle between the great ballet impresario Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook), who demands absolute commitment to the art with no distractions, and young lovers, composer Julian Craster (Marius Goring) and ballerina Vicky Page (Moira Shearer). The stage is set for a showdown, and indeed the 17-minute Red Shoes ballet is one of the most unforgettable cinematic sequences ever committed to celluloid. The film became Powell and Pressburger’s biggest international success and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Get tickets »

The Walt Disney Studio hit a creative peak with this second animated feature, a beautifully rendered version of Collodi’s 1883 cautionary tale. Although the character of Pinocchio was significantly changed from the original book (Collodi’s more mischievous Pinocchio accidentally kills the cricket with a hammer), this is the darkest of Disney movies, the visuals influenced by German Expressionism, and with no less than four villains lining up to tempt and exploit the little wooden boy. At its heart, though, it all comes down to what it means to be human… In the summer of 2023, Time Out magazine named Pinocchio the Best Animated Movie of All Time. Get tickets »

Beauty and the Beast
After decades in the doldrums, Disney animation enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s, with Beauty and the Beast setting a new bar. Taking cues from Cocteau’s live action film, the movie has little sympathy for Belle’s human suitor, the arrogant Gaston, and even the Beast has to work on himself before he’s worthy of our feisty and resourceful heroine. This was the first Disney animated feature to be written by a woman (Linda Woolverton), and it became the first to be nominated for Best Picture. Three of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s songs were nominated for Best Original Song, and the title track won. Get tickets »

Presented with a short film:  Sleeping Betty (Claude Cloutier, 2007, Canada) 9 min
Betty can’t (or won’t) wake up. The King calls on his subjects to rescue her and they all respond to the call: Uncle Henry VIII, Aunt Victoria, an oddly emotional alien, a funky witch and a handsome prince. But will a kiss really be enough to wake the sleeping princess? Winner: Best Animated Short, Genie Awards.

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T
Dr Seuss — Theodore Geisel — wrote the screenplay for this wildly original and deeply Seussian musical. Filmed in “Wonderama” (actually, Technicolor), this unforgettable film’s highlights are numerous, but the Shlim Shlam Ballet — one of numerous songs by composer Frederick Hollander for which Dr Seuss wrote the lyrics — may be the most significant, if only for the crazy instruments, surreal choreography and the debut of future West Side Story star George Chakiris. Intended as a Wizard of Oz fantasia, the movie bombed at the time but has a dedicated cult following. Get tickets »

For the full lineup, film info, and to purchase tickets visit VIFF online. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram for more updated about this film series and more throughout the year.

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