Fairtytale Fever: Hansel & Gretel latest to get Hollywood treatment

IT seems fairytales aren’t just for little kids anymore with more and more Hollywood blockbusters re-telling the old fables with new, often dark twists.

It’s not that far a stretch to assume that after killing one witch as children, Hansel and Gretel would make a career out of it. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton play the bounty hunting siblings who, armed to the teeth with guns and automatic crossbows, rid the world of witches, one by one.

If its breadcrumbs, haggard witches with long noses and warts and happy endings you’re after, then you might be disappointed with this new twist on the classic fairytale. The seriously ugly witches aren’t just keen on chowing down on children this time, they’re hell-bent on sacrificing them to the blood moon. Coupled with the somewhat over-the-top gore, killings by beheading and machine gun massacres, swearing and nudity, this version of the fairytale was definitely made for adult audiences.

It’s surprising, in a good way, how many fight sequences were jammed into the 88 minute film. Whether it was hand to hand combat against witches attempting to flee on broomsticks or trolls coming to the rescue, plenty of punches were thrown, ammunition fired and blood spilled. But if the action scenes aren’t appealing, there’s always the topless Renner scene to pull the ladies in.

While it’s not quite the story we remember from our childhood, it was refreshing to see the fairytale stripped of its sugar coating and given a high dose of adrenalin, attitude and all-round badassery. You can catch Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters in cinemas from February 7.

But it seems Hansel and Gretel isn’t the only fairytale to undergo a Hollywood makeover. Kristen Stewart took on the role of Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012 but she was far from the singing, rosy-cheeked cartoon Snow we all know and love. Instead, she was a pretty ruthless, fierce, warrior-esque princess – a move that gave the movie a darker, war-like atmosphere opposed to a happy kids flick.

Similarly, in 2011, the beloved plaited hair and wicker basket of Little Red Riding Hood was twisted into a grim tale of death and animal sacrifice. Fully equipped with a love triangle, a werewolf hunter and a town full of scheming, lying and overwhelmingly paranoid residents, Red Riding Hood definitely turned the original tale into something much more sinister.

Fans of the fairytale genre also have much to look forward to with Guillermo del Toro remaking the classic Beauty and the Beast, rumoured to star Harry Potter’s Emma Watson. James Franco is also set to star in Oz the Great and Powerful, a look at the magical Land of Oz, set before Dorothy and Toto wind up there, released on March 8.

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I wrote this piece for Meld. You can see all my work for the magazine here.

Thanks for reading!

Isolation: the Harry Potter fanfiction with a twist

We all know the story of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – how Harry, Hermione and Ron go on a hunt for Horcruxes, defeat the Dark Lord in the epic Battle of Hogwarts and live happily ever after. But what if the story was reshuffled, the scenes played out differently and the characters were paired off with partners you’d least expect?

Rebecca Jones, a 23-year old Brit and a self-confessed “huge” Potter fan who, like the rest of us, cried when she didn’t receive a Hogwarts letter, has done exactly this with her story, Isolation.

Poster designed by Lizeth Palacios Amador

Isolation is a fanfiction work in progress – literature written using settings and characters from an existing piece of literature, film or television series. While Isolation adheres quite closely to the actual timeline of the Deathly Hallows, there are some major changes, the most prominent being the pairing of Hermione with Slytherin’s Draco Malfoy – a ship (fangirl code for couple) commonly referred to as “Dramione”.

For his safety, the Order sends Malfoy into hiding; a room at Hogwarts with Hermione being the only company he receives. Initially, it’s all fiery arguments, banter, insults and the steady breaking down of sanity on both sides. But as the War progresses, each finds their loyalties being put to the test and slowly but surely, love blooms.

While Dramione may be an unconventional couple to some, Jones says she adores the pairing. Had their relationship been included in the actual books, she thinks it would have represented a love that conquered all the odds.

“Draco is that wonderfully complex and conflicted character; the tortured soul and I think Hermione has a very forgiving nature, but she’s also feisty enough to keep him in line.”

If the number of reviews and favourites are anything to go by, it’s clear Jones isn’t alone in her adoration of Dramione. The story, which is currently 42 chapters and over 230,000 words, has received over 7000 reviews, 5000+ favourites, been translated into seven foreign languages and has inspired countless graphics, fan-made YouTube videos, trailers and artworks.

The story began with a few scribbled notes written on a long bus ride and upon arriving home, Jones began the first chapter. One of those bus notes turned into somewhat of a tagline for the story – “Now your blood’s filthy too.”

Chapter 6: Tiles

“Filthy Mudblood.”

Something snapped in her. He actually saw it; the flicker of something dark in her eyes, something almost feral. He tried to shift but another wave of nausea from Granger’s attack flushed his brain, and he squinted his eyes to try and focus on her.

“Mudblood,” she repeated in a husky hum, raising her wand slightly.

He spat out a startled grunt as she stabbed her palm with the tip of her wand, dragging it across her flesh to create a thin red slit. She stalked into the bathroom then, nearing him and displaying her fresh wound. He watched with a morbid fascination as a ribbon of blood glided down her middle finger, and two ruby pearls rained down to splat against the ivory floor by his feet.

“You find this filthy?” Hermione questioned with a wavering tone, crouching down so she was at his level. “You think my blood is filthy?”

“Granger-

“DO YOU?” the witch yelled, leaning forward to snatch his hand.

“What the hell are you doing?” he asked, accepting that he was starting to panic in response to her dubious movements. “Granger, what the hell?”

She quickly drew a similar slice across his hand, and a combination of his shock and still-sluggish reflexes didn’t allow him to interfere as she slammed their palms together with a wet slap.

“There,” Hermione spat, holding their twisted and sticky handshake firm as she spoke. “Now your blood’s filthy too!”

Strength surged into his muscles with welcoming heat, and it went straight to his arms, tearing his seeping hand from her grasp and throwing her away from him. She screeched across the floor, much like she had this morning, but he was too busy staring at his red-stained skin to note the irony.

The worst thing was he couldn’t distinguish her blood from his. It was all the same shade…and he had no idea what that meant.

What’s most interesting about Isolation is how the protagonists stay true to the personalities written by Rowling, despite being thrust into a completely obscure relationship and setting. Their love isn’t instant, in fact it takes them several chapters before they can even tolerate each other; their quips and banter reminiscent of their relationship from The Chamber of Secrets, with the word “Mudblood” constantly being thrown around.

But eventually, as they break each other down and their prejudices are slowly but surely challenged, feelings change.

Jones says she truly has no idea why her particular Dramione story is so popular – especially because a few fans have expressed their delight that Draco’s character hasn’t strayed far from the actual series.

Jones at Kings Cross Station, London

Isolation has been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, Dutch, and Slovak. Initially thinking no one would read it, Jones says she’s extremely flattered and thankful for the worldwide attention her story has received.

“There’s something very oddly wonderful about finding out that people on the other side of the world are reading something you’ve written.”

In the latest chapter of Isolation, Draco is right in the middle of the chaos and danger of the Battle of Hogwarts, searching for Hermione who along with Ron and Harry, are hell-bent on destroying the last Horcruxes. With only three or four chapters left, fans are preparing for an epic reunion between the lovers, with fingers crossed they get a happy ending.

For Jones, it’s a bittersweet moment, coming to the end of a story which she’s been writing since 2010.

“I am quite sad that it’s coming to a close. I understand that it’s just a fanfiction, but I’ve been writing it for over two years now and I’m rather attached to it,” she says.

“At the same time, I’m quite relieved and happy that it will be ending soon because it means I didn’t abandon it or lose interest.”

With plans for an epilogue, other Isolation-related fanfiction and perhaps exploring some of the other character’s relationships, such as Blaise Zabini and Luna Lovegood or Theodore Nott, there’s still plenty for Potterheads to look forward to from Jones.

*Certain words from the excerpt were edited for publication.

This piece was written for MELD MAGAZINE