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HEROES, SUPERHEROES AND WITCHES

Scary fairy tales of evil stepmothers and wicked witches, of monsters and fire spitting dragons, cruel kings and evil spirits are not things of the past. They are not confined to our childhood. Far from it. We also crave them as adults and movies – and video games, and games of chance - deliver them.

The things we learn to fear in childhood are symbolic of the dangers in the world and defeating them, overcoming them, squashing them, is one of the ways we contain our fear of them.

Fairy tale stories make great movies because they tackle such primal fears and present filmmakers the opportunity to make films on a grand scale. World domination is at stake. Kingdoms are under threat. And here’s the thing, it’s ‘kingdoms’ – not republics. The symbolism is clear: a king is a symbol of a wise, just man, a leader and a protector. In chess, his power limited and is second to the queen … but the loss of a queen does not end the game.

Movies have digested all these dark elements and regurgitated them many times since the history of the medium, over 100 years ago. (That seems a remarkably short time, somehow, when you start thinking of the history and evolution of cinema!)

Movies have borrowed heavily from comics and graphic novels, and while the princess in the fairy story is pretty and her world full of light and flowers, there is danger lurking … until the hero swoops her up. Much darker stories have been created for adults who crave similar sensory excitement in stories with which they can associate. Frank Miller’s Sin City comes to mind, a place set in the dark basement of mankind’s soul.

Video games, too, have, plundered this treasure of story telling tools, as have games of chance, whose graphic illustrations are almost interchangeable with movie posters – eg Spartacus, Montezuma or Wild West, as seen for example at online casino site netbet

These images conjure up the stories that show how the best of human nature defeats the worst. We are reassured.

Published November 18, 2015

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