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REVIEW : Hansel & Gretel (2007)

April 2, 2009

Videovista also have my review of Yim Pil-sung’s Hansel & Gretel.

Over the past month I have been reading and watching a lot of stuff that consciously plays around with pre-existing forms of imagery.  For example, Blindness (2008) seemed to address not just metaphorical blindness but also the idea of blindness as a metaphor.  I also sat through not only Stephen Moffat’s direction-less Jekyll (2007) but an equally uninspiring theatrical reworking of the original novella by James MacLaren entitled (somewhat unoriginally) Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

One of the main problems with Hansel & Gretel is that while it plays around with the idea of Hansel and Gretel, it really does not have anything to say.  It is a film that draws heavily from the del Toro tradition of stories about abandoned children and in bringing together those two traditions, all it really manages to do is make us realise that del Toro’s stories are hardly revolutionary.

However, in thinking about this film and Blindness I could not help but wonder whether there isn’t some kind of bell curve for reinventions.  Fail to do enough and your story comes across as hackneyed but do too much and the story gets lost or, as in the case of Blindness, the metaphor effectively becomes so flexible that it becomes effectively meaningless, thereby leaving the writer looking like a pretentious pseud.

On a completely unrelated subject, this month’s Videovista also featured my review of the old TV mini-series Escape from Sobibor (1987), which, if nothing else, shows how films such as Schindler’s List have helped make mainstream media a good deal less squeamish about the Holocaust than it used to be.

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