Fairy Tale: A True Story

Movie review by
Nancy Warren, Common Sense Media
Fairy Tale: A True Story Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Two girls convince a nation that fairies are real.
  • PG
  • 1997
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The girls do apparently deceive people deliberately, but without malice.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKAAustin March 4, 2020

A magical film

This is a really lovely film about two little girls who see fairies at the local creek. They take photos of them that become a big sensation, attracting the int... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 and 10-year-old Written byABLE J August 31, 2017

Inspirational, well organized, and unique, but not funny or a with a light mood.

"Fairy Tale, A True Story" was a movie with many flaws but also many features. It had an interesting and on topic plot, though changes of personality... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old April 2, 2010


It may be the best true story fantasy I've ever seen next to Mermaid.

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?

Movie details

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