Fairy Tale: A True Story

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2

Content: -1

World War I is coming to a close and the English are weary. Maybe that's why the whole country becomes caught up in a news story about two little girls' photos of live fairies living in a country garden. Elsie Wright (Florence Hoath), a 12-year-old, and Frances (Elizabeth Earl), her 9-year-old cousin, take the pictures to prove to Elsie's parents that fairies do exist. The girls spend hours by the enchanting creek observing the tiny human-like creatures with gossamer wings flitting about. Word of the photographs spread like wildfire, attracting the curiosity of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Peter O'Toole) and his skeptical friend, the famous magician Houdini (Harvey Keitel). The peaceful village is soon turned into a hubub of reporters and tourists, worrying Elsie and Frances that the fairies will be frightened away. They are delightful, precocious youngsters, both suffering from deep losses. Elsie's older brother died recently of pneumonia and Frances' mother has died and her father is missing in action. This allegedly true story is too wordy and confusing for children under 10, and too unbelievable for most adults. It is now generally accepted that four of the five photos were faked, and the fifth is still in dispute. However, the film is a delightful tale and scenes of the English countryside are magnificent.

This is a supposedly true account told in an almost documentary style, intended to prove that fairies exist. Doyle, the world famous creator of Sherlock Holmes, becomes the strongest supporter of this theory. He also refers to sessions with a medium and conversations with his dead son. Houdini, too, does not rule out the existence of fairies, even though as a magician he knows the power of trickery and the gullible nature of the public. The ghost of Elsie's deceased brother makes a brief appearance for some unexplained reason. Angels are explained to be on a higher level than fairies, elves and gnomes, but nevertheless in the same "family." By the end of the film, Elsie's mother even sees them. Two exclamatory profanities and one moderate crude expression are heard, but the movie has no violence or sexual content. A wounded soldier with a disfigured face might upset young children, and a reporter frightens Frances when he grabs her in the garden. The Wright family is very close, and face the turmoil in their lives with dignity and unity. A FAIRY TALE will appear to most as a charming children's film, but it is deceptive in not revealing that subsequent events showed the photos to be fake. Therefore, the film receives a negative rating.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Paramount Communications, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, NY, NY 10023-7780

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Once - Moderate

Obscene Language: None

Profanity: Twice - Exclamatory (Good God, God knows)

Violence: Few times - Mild (man grabs little girl, vandalizes house)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Once (man gets drunk)

Other: Fairies presented as real; Remarks indicate that communing with the dead is acceptable; ghost of dead boy appears; fairies presented as real.

Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: 10 and older

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