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FairyTale: A True Story (1997)

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In 1917, two children take a photograph, which is soon believed by some to be the first scientific evidence of the existence of fairies.

Director:

Charles Sturridge

Writers:

Albert Ash (story), Tom McLoughlin (story) | 2 more credits »
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Harvey Keitel ... Harry Houdini
Jason Salkey ... James Collins
Peter O'Toole ... Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Lara Morgan Lara Morgan ... Jean Doyle
Adam Franks Adam Franks ... Adrian Doyle
Guy Witcher ... Denis Doyle
Joseph May ... Houdini's Assistant
John Bradley John Bradley ... Portly Gentleman
Anna Chancellor ... Peter Pan
Florence Hoath Florence Hoath ... Elsie Wright
Phoebe Nicholls ... Polly Wright
Leonard Kavanagh Leonard Kavanagh ... Stage Manager
Elizabeth Earl Elizabeth Earl ... Frances Griffiths
Paul McGann ... Arthur Wright
Anton Lesser ... Wounded Corporal
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Storyline

Based on factual accounts, this is the story of two young girls that, somehow, have the ability to take pictures of winged beings... which certainly causes quite a stir throughout England during the time of the first World War. Everyone, except the girls who think it's quite normal, are excited about this "photographic proof" that fairies exist... even the great Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini pay the girls a visit. Written by BOB STEBBINS <stebinsbob@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Believe.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for brief mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 October 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fairy Tale: A True Story See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,515,323, 26 October 1997, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$14,036,249, 11 January 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is based on the true story of the Cottingley Fairies. In the summer of 1917, Frances Griffiths (then ten years old) and her cousin Elsie Wright (then sixteen years old) were living with Elsie's parents in the town of Cottingley in West Yorkshire. Using Arthur Wright's camera, the girls took a series of pictures of themselves with fairies in the nearby woodland brook of Cottingley Beck. (The woodland scenes in "FairyTale: A True Story" are filmed in Cottingley Beck, the actual location where Frances and Elsie supposedly encountered the fairies in 1917.) The photographs became public in 1919 (not during World War I, as depicted in the film), when Elsie's mother gave the photos to Edward Gardner, President of the Theosophical Society of Bradford. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published the photos with an article on spiritualism in "The Strand" Magazine in December 1920. Opinions over the authenticity of the photos were divided. Several photographic experts examined them and pronounced them "genuine," while other photo experts found "evidence of fakery." (A few experts who examined the photos noted that the "fairies" had "Parisienne-style haircuts," which were popular in the day.) In the end, no real harm came from the photos. The two girls never accepted any money for them, or tried to swindle anyone with their claims of fairy encounters. Years later, as adults, the girls admitted they had faked the photos using cardboard cutouts of fairies taken from a children's book. Elsie explained that they were too embarrassed to admit the truth about the photos after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the legendary creator of Sherlock Holmes, accepted them as genuine. However, Frances insisted until her death that at least one of the "fairy photos" was real. Frances died in 1986, and Elsie died in 1988. The original photos, and the cameras the girls used to take them, are now in the National Media Museum in Bradford, England. See more »

Quotes

Polly Wright: Thank you.
Elsie Wright: For what?
Polly Wright: For the photographs.
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Soundtracks

See the Conquering Hero Comes
from "Judas Maccabeus"
Composed by George Frideric Handel (as Georg Friedrich Händel)
Arranged by Christopher Blood
Performed by the combined brass ensembles of St. Peter's & St. Oliver's Schools, York
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User Reviews

A Thoroughly engaging, dreamy and beautiful period film!
18 June 2002 | by Lee-107See all my reviews

After watching this film I realize that it is not so much about whether it "was really" true or untrue...the essence of the film, made amply clear is the Belief of the two girls in fairies that made them see them in the first place. On a metaphysical level the film says that if you really believe in something, however odd or outlandish, it will come true or be true. There's no sense in being contentious about the basis of this film because that is very much valid as I have pointed out above. To do so, as I see some people have done over here, is to not only misunderstand the message of the film but to downplay its other qualities.

The acting of Florence Hoath as Elsie and Elizabeth Earl as Frances is really impressive. Both have done complete justice to their characters. The rest of the cast, Paul McGann as Elsie's father, Peter O'Toole as Arthur Conan Doyle and Harvey Keitel as Houdini are also really good. I also absolutely agree with most of the reviewers here that the early 20th century has been evoked very well. But of course, the best thing about the film is the cinematography. It's gorgeous! The woods where the girls encounter the fairies are evoked beautifully, they're appropriately dreamy and realistic. Praise must definitely be due to the set decorators who have done a brilliant job with the house that the Wrights live in and especially the room which Elsie and Frances share. It's a dream garret room! The music is also quite good. I thoroughly recommend this film, certainly for those who believe in Believing things and also for those who like to watch a really well made period film.


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