Faeries (1999)

“Two children holidaying on a farm are transported to Fairyland but after one eats a charmed fairy-cake they are given three tasks to complete before they can return to their own world.”

-Anonymous, IMDB

Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)…

This is another one of my more cheaty posts, as while there is a woman who becomes a Princess in this film, she’s not the main character. Brigid, the Princess-to-be, starts off as a secondary character who becomes very important to the story as the film goes on, but the ‘perspective’ we are meant to view the events of the film are through the eyes of young siblings Nellie and George. Brigid is essential to the plot, but this is Nellie and George’s adventure through Faerieland, not hers.

I decided to talk about this movie anyways because it tickled a particular fancy of mine I didn’t really think I had, mainly a good ol’fashioned Faerie story (Yes Faerie, not fairy). The Faeries in this film are the kinds that will trap you in their world, all because you had a sample of their cake while visiting. They’re all very well meaning, but rules are rules, and that’s a type of Faerie that I feel like we don’t really see represented a lot in kids media in North America. I think we tend to stay closer to the kinds of “Fairies” you usually see in Disney or Barbie movies. The “Fairy” is more likely to be a friendly nature spirit, with no mention of them dooming you to uncertain fates if you don’t follow their rules.

I didn’t realise I had a hankering for a Faerie film until I watched this movie. Unfortunately this film misses the mark quite a bit. Story wise I think Brigid should really have been the main character, Nellie and George are both a bit dull and I’d rather the focus be on Brigid and her journey from farmhand to Faerie Princess. You could still have the kids in the story, but have them be accessories to Brigid, and not the other way around.

How I picture it is this: Have Brigid be the lovely, kind, orphan farm girl who gets pushed around by her employers. Nellie and George could be her employers kids, or their nephew and niece… regardless of their relation they can be a bit kinder to Brigid, and be there to help her out on her adventure. Set up that Brigid is lonely and unsatisfied with her lot in life, maybe show how she’s a bit more connected to nature and a big believer in Folklore. That would certainly make it a lot easier to swallow how she almost immediately gives up her human life to marry the Faerie Prince (After knowing him less than five minutes!).

That’s admittedly a pretty funny part of the film, seeing Brigid and the Faerie Prince immediately partner up. The Faerie Prince at least has an excuse as there’s a prophecy saying that he’s destined to wed a “Beauteous Brigid”, so when a human woman named Brigid strikes his fancy it makes a bit more sense that he immediately wants to jump to marriage. Brigid on the other hand, has not only has just met the Faerie Prince, she only just found out Faeries existed at all. You’d think she’d need a bit more time to process everything that’s just happened, but the film tries to handwave it away by giving her a line about how she feels like she’s known the Prince all her life… so I guess there’s just something in the universe giving her the all clear to get married and give up being a human and become a Faerie.

Almost immediately after becoming a Faerie the consequences of giving up her human life pop up, as Brigid’s best friend gives birth and Brigid has to sneak off to see the baby, which leads to more trouble for the Faeries that Brigid and the kids have to solve. The film never really brings up what happens after the events of the movie, where Brigid’s friends and family haven’t seen her for ages and are left wondering where she is, and Brigid can’t even reveal herself because Faeries in this universe are invisible to humans unless you know how to look for them. It’s an understandably sad thing to think about, which is why it’s so odd that the film didn’t give themselves an out like making Brigid a friendless orphan, like I suggested earlier. Is it original? No definitely not, but at least you don’t question Brigid’s decision to stay in Faerieland.

I should give some mention to the visuals of this film, as it’s how it came up on my radar. I had heard this film described as awful looking, but it’s more that this film’s visuals are a tad disjointed. The characters are traditionally animated in a more realistic style, which I think was a bit tough for the animators at times (There’s more than a few scenes of characters with faces that feel a bit ‘off’). There’s a few instances of the characters becoming CGI for specific shots, mostly when they’re being flown around by the Faeries, and the CGI models are pretty rough (Though credit to the movie makers, they knew it was best to keep the CGI characters far from the camera, so while it’s still not great looking it could’ve been a lot worse).

The backgrounds are a mix of 2D paintings, CGI scenes, and miniature sets. The character’s aren’t really blended into the CGI and miniature environments, which is a shame because the miniature sets in particular are really adorable. They’re used in the Faerieland locations so there’s tons of whimsical, earthy detail, and it made me wish that the rest of the film was stop motion animated because I’d love to see more. Maybe something like James and the Giant Peach, where it’s a mix of live action for the human world and stop motion animation for the Fantasy world? There’s definitely no way it’d fit within this productions budget, so that’s more me daydreaming about what this film could’ve been.

While I did enjoy this film a bit, the pace of the film is a bit slow, so I’m not sure how well it’d go over for a high-energy movie night. This won’t be the highlight of the evening, that’s for sure, but if you’re like me and you want a bit of a Faerie fix, this might give you the smallest dose to keep you going while you try and track down a better film.


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