An honest soldier receives a ruby whistle, a comparable dance, an unbeatable deck of cards and a magic sack for being kind to three beggars. He defeats a bunch of devils by playing cards and catches ...
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In northern England around 1900, the worker John O'Brien lives near poverty in a small house in the worker's district. He falls in love with Mary, the teacher of his highly intelligent ... See full summary »
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A variety of European folk tales are retold in nine new stories. A soldier captures Death in a magic sack. A fearless young man sets out to learn to shudder. A boy with a destiny that frightens a tyrant is sent on an impossible task that will see him wed the princess, or dead. A storyteller must spin tales to stay alive. A woman bears a hedgehog-child who grows up to live alone in a castle until he does a king a favor and gets the princess's hand in return. A princess must keep silent while she works to free her brothers from an evil spell. A princess runs away from wedding her father and disguises herself as an ugly forest creature. A young boy must overcome a heartless giant. A princess searches the earth for her stolen bridegroom. Written by
Jim Henson originally wanted the storyteller to be a puppet. 'Ron Mueck even designed and built a puppet head to try out this concept. See more »
When people told themselves their past with stories, explained their present with stories, foretold the future with stories, the best place by the fire was kept for... The Storyteller.
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Despite its pedigree, the most interesting things about this series are not the animatronics or puppetry, which, while charming, are little more than sideshows, at least in the story I saw, A STORY SHORT. In fact, loathe though I am to admit it, the programme's chief pleasure lies in that most ancient art, storytelling.
John Hurt, in Rowley Birken QC-mode, grotesque, medieval make-up, relates a story about story telling, seated by the fire, accompanied by a cynical dog. One winter's day, starving and poor, he spots a fellow beggar thrown out of the Royal Kitchen by the nasty cook. The Story Teller tricks this latter into giving them an excellent soup. Furious, the Cook pleads with the King for permission to boil the villain, but, pleased with the Story Teller's wit, the monarch offers him a reprieve - for 100 nights, he must tell the King a new story: if he fails to do so, he will hand him over to the cook.
The story may be old, but it's told with great gusto. Anthony Minghella's script is excellently dramatic (as befits a playwright), witty, and with some disturbing concerns beneath the fun, such as fears for the self, or the culturally self-generating power of storytelling, linked to the continuation of ideological power. For a programme aimed at children, it is bracingly self-reflexive (with little nonsense about film being the new oral culture); despite the Americanised style, there is a charming sense of medieval bustle, its grotesqueness and arbitrary terror, as well as its magic and power.
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