Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors (or, in this case, contributors!).
In Kihachiro Kawamoto’s animated short A Poet’s Life (1974)—based on a short story by Kobo Abe—a factory worker fired for demanding higher wages sends “words to shore up [other workers’] withering spirits.” His mother, meanwhile, is inexplicably woven into a sweater and subsequently sold to a general store, where she lies folded and untouched in a dark storeroom. When a terrible winter befalls the town, and everybody freezes to death, a mouse in search of a warm nest wounds the sweater: “Accidentally, her teeth pierced the heart of the mother.” The sweater bleeds, turns bright red—the only color in the film—and then soars like a ghost out of the store and through the lifeless, snow-covered town until she finds her son standing frozen in the street. She slips herself around his arms and torso, and he is revived. What’s more, “[he] suddenly realized that he was a poet.”
In William March’s fable “The Young Poet and the Worm” (1940), an ethnocentric white male poet appraises his own “plump, pink body” as well as “this rich, perfect world which God created for man’s pleasure!” Whereupon a worm, down below, replies: “I don’t know about that, but there’s one thing I do know from my own experience: the perfection of man was assuredly made for the pleasure of worms.”
In Tim Burton’s 2003 film Big Fish—based on the novel by Daniel Wallace—Steve Buscemi plays a “famous” poet named Norther Winslow. We encounter his character twice: first in the little tucked-away Southern town of Spectre, where he has for twelve years, spellbound by the town, struggled to compose a single three-line poem (“The grass so green / The skies so blue / Spectre is really great!”), and then again years later in an anonymous bank, where he suddenly brandishes a pistol and commences to rob the place, though the bank contains about as much money as a career in poetry: none. At this point, the film’s protagonist, Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor), a friend from his Spectre days who inadvertently robs the bank with him, suggests that Winslow head to Wall Street. The poet takes the advice—no “words to shore up withering spirits” from him—and soon becomes a millionaire.
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by multi-issue contributor Jaydn DeWald.