Fairy Tale: A True Story
By Nancy Warren,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Two girls convince a nation that fairies are real.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The girls do apparently deceive people deliberately, but without malice.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that wounded soldiers fill the train station where young Francis meets her relatives. There is some intense material (e.g. Francis's father is missing in World War I, but she clings to the belief he will return). Kids will absorb a bit of 1917 England, and meet historical figures Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini.
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Based on 9 parent reviews
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A magical film
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What's the Story?
FAIRY TALE: A TRUE STORY is the historically based story of two young girls in 1917 England who claimed to have photographed fairies, convincing hundreds of their existence, including the formidable Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story begins when Francis, whose mother has died and whose soldier father (cameo by Mel Gibson) is missing in World War II, comes to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousin Elsie. The cousins quickly bond over their mutual fairy fascination. To convince Elsie's parents that fairies exist, Frances borrows her uncle's camera and takes photos of the fairies, which eventually end up in the hands of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (creator of Sherlock Holmes). When Doyle publishes the photos in his magazine, they create a national sensation. Hundreds of would-be believers flock to the girls' creekside fairyland.
Is It Any Good?
With deft camera work and riveting acting, the movie captures both the inventiveness of youth and the eccentricities of history. To focus on the question of whether or not the photos are real is to miss the essence of this fascinating story. The movie blurs fact and fantasy, taking us into a war-weary England in which everyone would like to believe in, if not see, something magical. The main characters here aren't deceptive, but pure-hearted, and their fairy friends are authentic as playmates. Both girls have suffered tremendous loss, and whether real or imaginary, the fairies bring them tangible joy.
An opening scene shows Peter Pan on stage, begging the audience to believe in fairies. This is but the first plea. Not only does the movie beg us to believe, but it also populates its world with fairies. Though countless special effects must have been required to bring the fairies to life, technical wizardry never overpowers their grace. Fantasy worlds and imaginary friends are integral to childhood, and kids will identify with Francis and Elsie's ability to summon fairies and persuade adults they exist.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about why so many people flocked to the fairyland? What did the fairies mean to them?
- In theaters: October 24, 1997
- On DVD or streaming: October 6, 1998
- Cast: Harvey Keitel, Jason Salkey, Peter O'Toole
- Director: Charles Sturridge
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, History
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: Parental Guidance Suggested
- Last updated: June 8, 2023
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