What a gem. I bought the DVD on a whim (Play and their damn sales) and after half an hour we all agreed that we were enjoying this very much. I was very disappointed afterwards to read so much negativity about it.
Yes, the three witches are obsessed with their looks and the attainment of perpetual youth which is a stereotype. Yes, all the bad women are ugly which is another stereotype. Yes, our heroine is a beautiful blonde which is yet another stereotype. Yes, the heroine can only shine when her heart is not broken which means the witch can only be defeated through a man’s love. All these factors sound bad but take the last point – our hero is unable to beat the witch by any means except by the accident of giving his heart to the heroine.
The princes are so greedy and power-hungry that they all get themselves killed in their attempts to attain the throne. They don’t care at all about each other.
The hero as one commentator said in the comments of the Body Impolitic blog is a “thick as a brick” and has to be turned into a mouse (a funny looking mouse, mind you, ok, a rodent of some sort) before he realises that the woman whom he is trying to impress isn’t worthy. He spends a significant part of the finale cowering with his mother behind a cabinet (for so long that Adam started urging him to do something). When he does stand up to Lamia, he can only do under the protection of the snowdrop and he stills fails to beat her.
A lot of criticism is aimed at Claire Danes and while I suppose it does irk that she is an American keeping a Brit out of work - well that hardly happens the other way does it? Her character does moan a bit but she was tumbled from the sky, did hurt her leg and did get kidnapped by a lad that called her mother so I think she was justified in a bit of whinging.
Una is a clever character – she totally manages her own escape from captivity even though she has to wait eighteen years to do so.
Anyway, it is funny, exciting, intricately but lucidly plotted, has a great cast and I want to watch it again – right now - even though it's not perfect, I am bored of clearly shallow women being the objects of desire – it reflects badly on women and men. I would have liked a twist in the bore that is primogeniture to see the first born child actually become monarch but since it is a fairy tale, I’ll let that slide.
More disturbing (and it does surprise me that few commentators have mentioned it) was the threat of rape to Yvaine from Captain Shakespeare. You can argue that she knew she was in no danger, the captain’s mate knew she was in no danger and quite probably the rest of the pirates knew she wasn’t in danger (which makes their macho posturing a little more distressing because a nod, a wink and a hurghhh to rape isn’t, oddly enough, manly) but we, the audience, didn’t know she was in no danger.
It has also been compared to The Princess Bride and, quite frankly, if someone wants to aim a gender gun at that, please do.
And finally, goats and chariots are funny: