Childhood lessons are commonly told through folklore tales; the life lesson often being that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The messaging, however cliché, is important to learn as we navigate life’s’ hardships. We all know that beauty fades and it is our emotional strength that will stay with us.
To celebrate the theatrical release of Ivan I Tverdovsky’s Zoology on 29th September – we showcase some of our favourite fable stories in films.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a well-known example of this metaphor. A young Prince is cursed to remain a beast forever unless he learns how to be selfless and kind. Through this, he finds true love from Belle who accepts and loves him despite his beastly looks. This lesson is about loving someone for who they are and not for what they look like on the outside.
Penelope is a British fantasy romantic comedy film starring Christina Ricci as Penelope, a young girl, from a wealthy family, who is born with the nose and ears of a pig. The film is an adaptation of the classic fairy tale and legend of the pig-faced women. Penelope is born with this deformity after a vengeful witch placed a curse on her family many generations before. It is said that the curse can only be lifted if ‘one of her own kind’ learns to love her which Penelope’s parents assume means that she must be loved by a man of extreme wealth and noble birth. Penelope’s parents try to find her suitors to marry her and to break the curse but all of them run away as soon as they see her face. The curse is finally broken when Penelope says she does not want to break the curse as she is happy with the way she is. The power of self-love, and Penelope loving herself for who she is is how the curse was eventually broken.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Horns is a dark fantasy thriller horror film about a man, Ig Perrish, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, Merrin. Perrish wakes the morning after his girlfriend’s memorial to find two protruding horns on the top of his head. He later discovers these horns have the power to make people tell Ig their deepest and darkest secrets and desires. Ig begins to use them to manipulate the people around him with the motivation of finding his girlfriends’ killer.
The horns first seem to be a physical manifestation of Ig’s guilt. The town’s people believe it is an acknowledgment that he committed the crime. The horns also cast Ig as an outsider as he believes he was only liked and accepted when he was with his girlfriend.
Ig’s horns were a physical response to the evil that surrounded him; the burden of his girlfriend’s death, the ostracism from the outside world, and the guilt his father put upon him.
Both Horns and Zoology show that a physical deformity is placed upon the characters in order for them to bring about internal change within themselves as well as finding their place in society.
This dark fantasy classic by Tim Burton features Johnny Depp as young Edward, who is given sharp blades and scissors instead of hands by The Inventor. He is an unfinished creation who appears frightening and monstrous but in reality is a soft and gentle natured boy. This film perfectly encapsulates the lesson of not judging a book by its cover.
The film shows how Edward can be accepted and loved by the people in his life despite his outward flaws. Although there are obstacles to overcome like jealous and distrusting people, Edward shows even as an incomplete creation he is still able to feel emotions and connect to other people.
Both Edward Scissorhands and Zoology are similar in the fact that both characters experience extreme isolation and loneliness until they meet people in their life who accept them for who they are.
HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING
This British film is about a mentally unstable advertising executive, Denis Dimbleby Bagley, played by Richard E Grant, who suffers a nervous breakdown while making an advert for pimple cream. His moral dilemma over the ethics of advertising results in a boil that grows on the side of his neck. This boil has a face and a voice which it uses to make cynical and ruthless commentary on Denis’s life and the advertising world, wildly contrasting to Denis’ newfound conscience. The boil is a physical manifestation of all that is ugly and grotesque in Denis’ advertising world.
The boil gradually begins to take on a life of its own, similar to Natasha’s tail in Zoology. Natasha’s tail, however, never defines who she is as instead, she learns how to live with and without it.
This film focuses on a destructive board game which changes the lives of two groups of people spanning twenty-six years. Together, they must enter the world of Jumanji and finish the game for good.
A particularly important part in the film is a young boy’s transformation into a monkey because he cheats during the game. This transformation is a punishment for breaking the rules. This scene shows that there are always consequences for your actions. The transformation into an animal is his punishment for ignoring right and wrong.
His contribution to winning the game in a truly moral way earns him his redemption as he has learned his lesson and can, therefore, return to his former human self.
Zoology is a modern fable about a woman, Natasha, who works in a zoo in a small coastal town. Natasha is lonely a spectator to her own life. The beautiful story follows her journey of self-discovery and personal growth as she negotiates romance and professional obstacles with her physical deformity. Natasha is stuck and it seems that life has no surprises for her until one day – she grows a tail and turns her life around.
ZOOLOGY will be released in UK cinemas on the 29th September.