Between Attraction and Narration: Early Film Adaptations of Fairy Tales


  • Peter Verstraten


Mots-clés :

early cinema, theatrical staging, story-telling, excess of the marvelous


Adaptations of fairy tales were particularly popular in the years of early cinema. In the period preceding the year 1903 films consisted of a series of animated tableaux since filmmakers had difficulties in telling a coherent story. Allusions to a well‐known tale could then function as a guide for the spectator. At the same time, filmmakers were fond of experimenting with cinematic tricks, such as stop‐motion techniques and superimpositions. The fairy tale offers a legitimate backdrop for these tricks and these film adaptations even display an excess of the marvelous at the cost of the actual story itself.

Biographie de l'auteur-e

Peter Verstraten

Peter Verstraten is a lecturer of Literary Studies at the University of Leiden with a special focus on cinema. In 2009 his Film Narratology was published at the University of Toronto Press. It was the translation of his fairly successful Dutch edition. He has written (in Dutch) a study on key themes in Film Studies (2008) as well as a book on the relation between cinema and postmodernism. His dissertation was entitled Screening Cowboys : Reading Masculinities in Westerns (1999), which he defended at the University of Amsterdam. He has also published on a variety of films, such as Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life, Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot le Fou, Spike Jonze's Adaptatio, Michael Haneke's Caché, Todd Solondz' Palindromes, and on the phenomena of cult/camp and novellizations. Further, he is affiliated to a debating club that organizes annual meetings on ‘psychoanalysis and culture’.




Comment citer

Verstraten, P. (2010) « Between Attraction and Narration: Early Film Adaptations of Fairy Tales », RELIEF - Revue électronique de littérature française, 4(2), p. 237-251. doi: 10.18352/relief.547.



II. Nouvelles fonctions de l’illustration pendant le long XIXe siècle