FairyTale: A True Story (1997) starring Florence Hoath, Elizabeth Earl, Paul McGann, Phoebe Nicholls directed by Charles Sturridge Movie Review

FairyTale: A True Story (1997)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Elizabeth Earl and Florence Hoath in FairyTale: A True Story (1997)

Do You Believe?

With her father declared missing in action Frances Griffiths (Elizabeth Earl) is sent to live with her cousin Elsie Wright (Florence Hoath) and her family in the country, away from all the hustle and bustle of World War I. Frances and Elsie soon discover they have a joint interest in fairies and spend all their time down at the beck at the bottom of the garden where with the aid of their father's camera take pictures of fairies. Soon these pictures come to the attention of not only Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Peter O'Toole) but also his friend Harry Houdini (Harvey Keitel) who find themselves at odds over the pictures as Harry believes them to be fake whilst Arthur believes they are real and publishes them in "The Strand".

For those who do not know "FairyTale: A True Story" is inspired by the "Cottingley Fairies" the photos which cousins Elsie and Frances took in 1917 which became big news because of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in them and for decades after were at the centre of plenty of speculation until finally in the early 1980s the cousins admitted to faking the pictures. In fact I remember as a child when the news broke that these photos which had garnered so much speculation for years were fake with the cousins explaining how they did it.

Peter O'Toole in FairyTale: A True Story (1997)

But here is the thing about "FairyTale: A True Story", whilst we have this story surrounding the cousins and their fairy photos with friends Sir Conan Arthur Doyle and Harry Houdini investigating the movie isn't really about them or the press trying to prove them as fake. Nope "FairyTale: A True Story" is all about as children we have the capability to believe in everything and see the world through clear, uncynical eyes but as we grow older we are forced to declare those things as childish. And as an adult it makes it almost a nostalgic movie which makes you think back to then you were child and anything was possible.

But at the same time "FairyTale: A True Story" works for a younger age group with its old fashioned feel, a story telling prowess which puts it in to the same group of movies as "The Secret Garden". It means that whilst you may not get the nostalgic aspect of the movie the innocent family storyline is simply gorgeous. And at the same time the performances are just as gorgeous with Elizabeth Earl and Florence Hoath delivering captivating performances with innocence and a twinkle in their eyes as the young cousins. Plus there are all the grown up performances with Peter O'Toole bringing dignity to the movie whilst Billy Nighy brings that awkwardness to his character which makes him comical.

What this all boils down to is that "FairyTale: A True Story" is a joyful little movie which works for all the family. For grown ups it makes you remember more innocent times whilst having that mix of drama and humour for children who still have the innocence of youth.