Parents' Guide to

Fairy Tale: A True Story

By Nancy Warren, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 6+

Two girls convince a nation that fairies are real.

Movie PG 1997 99 minutes
Fairy Tale: A True Story Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 8+

Cute film

This is a very cute film but there are some curse words in it. The word a$$, and D*&m.

This title has:

Too much swearing
age 7+

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 interest of Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. One girl's brother has recently died; her cousin's father is missing in action (World War I). The fairy-sightings bring hope and comfort. Yes, as another reviewer mentioned, a soldier with a damaged face appears in the movie. The little girl who meets him evinces no shock or fear, but instead makes friends with him, so it does not alarm the viewer. My 9-yr-old girl LOVED this movie. 12-yr-old son acted very jaded but actually enjoyed it too. My daughter, who is extremely tender and sensitive, might have been a little nervous at the scenes with the bad guy when she was 7; but nothing bothered her in this now. The "scary" scenes are very mild: bad guy grabs the girls in the woods on a bright sunny day, and a friend shows up almost immediately to scare him away; bad guy breaks into their home one dark night, and a satisfying (to the viewer) supernatural occurrence sends him fleeing. The only part that gave me pause was the opening scene, when for a brief moment I was afraid we were watching a public lynching. Very quickly I realized it was one of Harry Houdini's shows, and I told the kids, and everybody enjoyed it. No consumerism (hooray!); characters are almost all decent, pleasant people, even when they disagree with one another; no sex; very minimal swearing (only 2-3x briefly); no drinking, or drugs, and even very little smoking, considering the time period in which it is set. My husband and I enjoyed it very much. We would love more family movies of this type: no stupid fart jokes or the equivalent, no portrayals of parents being the goofs that their kids make fun of or whose kids outsmart at every turn, etc. I'm tired of movies that make parents into the bad guys, or the killjoys, or that simply portray parents as stupid dolts. Or that have fun at someone else's expense. This one is gentle and loving yet still totally entertaining for all ages.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9):
Kids say (1):

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.

Movie Details

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