Fairy-Tale Files: Invocating What You Ask For

Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors, readers, editorial assistants, or contributors.


Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors, readers, editorial assistants, or contributors.


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Whether sending Dorothy back to Kansas or summoning a Saturday morning genie, magical phrases are part and parcel of the fantastic. Where would Cinderella be without her fairy godmother’s Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo? It’s speculated the phrase’s origin arose from the work of Russian realist Ivan Turgenev, though Bibbidi’s melody shares an uncanny similarity with the Tin Pan Alley tune “Hello My Baby.” Whatever the case, it’s the perfect spellcaster’s song, not to mention a one-off opportunity for the likes of South Park’s Mr. Garrison, and, where else, but a 2012 Gatorade commercial tied to the FIFA World Cup.

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The 80s were a Xena-less time. Fortunately there was She-Ra: Princess of Power. The twin sister of He-Man, She-Ra begins life as Force Captain Adora (it’s a long story involving a guy who turns his body into various weapons, including a hasty rocket). Seven syllables—“For the Honor of Grayskull”—is all it takes in terms of the Reagan-era mysticism that transforms Adora into the freedom fighter She-Ra, her alter ego known to a talking owl and a witch with the strongest Brooklyn accent since Tony Danza housekept his way into Angela Bower’s heart, sans the swirly Filmation sequencing.

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The trifecta “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice” conjures you one bio-exorcist, much to the deceased chagrin of Adam and Barbara Maitland, along with their caseworker, Juno. An early collaboration between Tim Burton and Danny Elfman, Beetlejuicewith its purloined handbooks and cameos by Robert Goulet and Dick Cavett—pairs interior designers with goth teens in a morbidly comedic attempt to explain the afterlife. The end product is a film that grossed more than $73 million and propelled Michael Keaton to Bat-status while giving Geena Davis something to haunt between pop flies with Madonna and cliff leaps with Louise.


This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by poetry editor Jon Riccio.