In 1997, FAIRY TALE A TRUE STORY was released, the film did moderately well at cinemas across the UK and also in the United States and Europe, the film although a massive blockbuster boasted an impressive cast, Peter O Toole, Harvey Keitel and a fleeting glimpse of Mel Gibson in the closing throws of the film to name but three. It was however the two young girls who were the stars of the show and the fairies of course. Based, on true events, this is a compelling and emotive movie and one that every-one should have in their collection. It is a charming and well-made motion picture that I know appeals to all age groups, as one cannot fail to be moved by the film and its storyline. The proceedings on screen were aided greatly by a fragile, melodic and heart-warming musical score by Zbigniew Preisner, the use of music within the movie is stunningly effective, it is the music at times that conveys the emotion of the scenes and has to it an otherworldly and magical persona.
The composers light and delicate touch colours and enhances beautifully many of the scenes, Zbigniew adding an abundance of fragility and wonder to each and every frame of film that he lovingly and carefully ingratiates with his elegant and poignant tone poems that caress and wrap themselves around each move and every scenario that we the audience are watching at times in awe of the power of the story, the images and the music which are flawlessly and seamlessly as one and working together. The use of alluring and tantalising piano is masterful and establishes the sense of magic and the atmosphere of the mystical wonderfully. It is an effecting work and I dare anyone not to be both mesmerized and affected emotionally by this subdued but at the same time highly charged sensitive music.
The compact disc of the soundtrack was available in 1997 at the time of the films release, but sadly it has become as rare as well, Fairies at the bottom of the garden, so maybe its time for a re-issue, it is in my opinion one of the composers most attractive scores, filled with a plethora of themes that are overflowing with melody and also ooze poignancy. He first came to the notice of many via his score for THE SECRET GARDEN which was in 1993, and yes there are certain stylistic similarities to the score from that and Fairy Tale, Preisner, utilises a heart rending violin solo at times within the score that just floors anyone or any listener, as it strips back and lays bare its musical heart for all to hear, it’s sound is so sincere and pure it is difficult to not be taken a back and affected. The composer also employs a harp at certain points within the work that acts as support for the violin or at times the strings, either adding to the impassioned performance or punctuating it with subtle musical comma’s and full stops.
Preisner also makes maximum use of chimes and music box like effects throughout creating a wonderous and charming sound, which he underlines with strings and woodwind, often the chimes acting as an introduction to both woods and strings before they begin to establish the full thematic glory of the cue.
Most of the cues on the soundtrack are short, under two minutes, but there are also a handful which have a duration of more than 4 minutes, in which the composer develops further his musical notions and brings them to a fuller fruition. However, saying this the briefest cues are still so wonderfully alive with melodic content that it really does not matter how long or short they are. The incredibly enthralling music just washes over the listener and becomes slightly addictive as the listener (at least this one) returned to the CD many times for repeated listens. Think it’s the way in which Preisner constructs his music that interests me more than anything else, especially in the case of FAIRY TALE, he begins subdued and unassuming with maybe woodwind or harp that plays the hint or wisp of a motif, then he adds to this another instrument such as guitar that is gingerly introduced and this embellishes the opening musical phrases, he then at times continues with the two or three instruments, which complement and play like a musical form of tag with each other as they begin passing the theme back and forth, savouring it and expanded upon each before returning it or passing it on, as they do they make the piece stronger and give it a more pronounced and established sound. And then on other occasions the composer brings into the equation a more powerful addition, maybe in the form of strings, piano, subtle horns or muted percussion. Either way Preisner’s music beguiles, enchants and fascinates.
The film is also an impressive piece of cinema and based on true events that apparently took place in rural England in the early 20th Century. It is a movie that is in fact so well done you do believe in Fairies. In 1920 the Author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was asked by the Strand magazine to write a piece on Fairies, Conan Doyle who was famous for his creation Sherlock Holmes began work on the article and whilst doing so heard about sightings of fairies in Cottingley. Doyle became friends with Harry Houdini, with whom he maintained a friendship for several years and they would often exchange letters and views on the subject of the supernatural and the phenomenon of fairies.
The film includes both Conan Doyle and Houdini, the latter had devoted himself to exposing fraudulent mediums of people who claimed to have seen any type of supernatural phenonium and in the film questioned the two girls who claimed to have seen the fairies. The subject matter is handled delicately and also sympathetically by director Charles Sturridge, who enlists the help of a strong cast to make this a thought provoking and engaging slice of cinema.
It is a movie that everyone should see at some point and is aimed at children of all ages, even those who don’t believe, after seeing FAIRY TALE A TRUE STORY, I am convinced you will be a Believer.