Fairytale magic in chroma-key, green-screen and shoulder-pads: an appreciation of Faerie Tale Theatre

Back in the 80s, when everyone was wearing neon headbands and parachute pants, I was obsessed with Shelley Duval’s Faerie Tale Theatre. These were live action versions of classic tales, featuring all star casts and notable directors (like Tim Burton). Every weekend, I’d go to the video store and rent a VHS tape.


Lee Remick as The Snow Queen
Lee Remick as The Snow Queen

I recently re-watched their version of “The Snow Queen,” with Melissa Gilbert as Gerda, Lauren Hutton as the Summer Queen and Lee Remick as the titular Snow Queen. The effects are as cheesy as those 70s Dr. Who episodes, the acting somewhat stilted, and the pacing was off. The mood of the piece is off, as well. Are Gerda and Kai supposed to be little kids or young adults? Is it supposed to be scary or funny? In short, it didn’t hold up to my memories. In short, it is very dated.

I like my fairytales dark, and for the most part, Duval’s versions are vectored towards the kids. Still, the series was the spark of my life long interest in fairy tales and folk tales.

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