Monsters in the Movies, the fantastic book by director John Landis from DK Canada moves on to the next chapter. Leaving mummies behind, I know turn my attention to Myths, Legends, and Fairy Tales, a widely populated region and I couldn’t think of a better place to start with it than Ridley Scott’s dreamlike take on fairy tales.
Now whether you prefer the film with the score by Tangerine Dream, or Jerry Goldsmith, the preferred version is The Director’s Cut, and I was happy to settle in and watch this one. I haven’t seen it in a long time.
Stunning to look at the production value in this film is simply gorgeous, and it looks like it is all on screen. All the tropes one would expect from a fairy tale are on the screen, unicorns, fairies, a princess, elves, a young hero, and a terrifying monster that signifies more than just being a baddie.
A young princess, Lily (Mia Sara) signifying innocence cavorts for the day in the wood with a forest-child, Jack (Tom Cruise). While the forces of Darkness (Tim Curry) – personifying the Judeo-Christian belief of the devil in a most literal version (which makes it interesting when he calls out for his father to save him) – scheme around the young lovers, Jack shows Lily a rare sight, a pair of unicorns.
When Lily inadvertently draws one of the unicorns in Darkness strikes, claiming the beast’s horn, and plunging the world into a horrible winter that is only the prelude to the end. Darkness plans to tempt and seduce Lily and sacrifice the last unicorn as the sun sets, plunging the world into eternal night.
It’s up to Jack and a small company, Gump (David Bennent) the elf, Oona (Annabelle Lanyon) and a pair of little people, Screwball (Billy Barty) and Brown Tom (Cork Hubbert), to stop Darkness and restore balance (even Darkness knows he can’t be banished forever) to the forest, and the world.
The sets (on the 007 Pinewood Studios before it succumbed to fire during production), the production design, the makeup (especially for Tim Curry) is nothing short of jaw-dropping, the film itself isn’t always Scott’s best, but it is a beautiful watch. Cruise, now, actually seems out of place in the film, while everyone else seems to work.
The story needed to be a touch stronger, something that is served well by the director’s cut, and there are some interesting thoughts on sin, good and evil, but it’s not quite enough. Still the beauty of the film helps to balance, and perhaps distract from that a little.
I’ll be curious to see what other interesting creatures and characters I’ll meet or get reacquainted with as I traverse this interesting chapter in DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies.
Pick one up and take a stroll through some cinematic fairy tales tonight!