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Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales from Hans Christian Andersen - family and children's DVD / television series DVD review
Featuring: Shelley Duvall, Alan Arkin, Art Carney, Mick Jagger, Edward James Olmos, Carrie Fisher
Distributor: E1 Entertainment
DVD release: 14 July 2009 Runtime: 211 min.
(1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, DVD, NTSC
DVD features: Aspect ratio 1.33:1, Audio tracks (English - 5.1 Surround Sound, Dolby Digital 2.0), Four Faerie Tale Theatre episodes (Emperor's New Clothes, Nightingale, Snow Queen, Thumbelina)

E1 Entertainment is recapturing the magic of the original Faerie Tale Theatre from the early '80s and giving a whole new generation the opportunity to grow with the classics of youth. What could be more fantastic? Well, E1 is doing something many companies are foolish not to do themselves: they are going with the originals of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre. This is fantastic for multiple reasons, but two in particular stand out: 1) the originals are filled with superb actors, sets, costumes, dialogue, and a magical quality that cannot be reproduced, and 2) If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Shelley Duvall proved herself a master storyteller and educator with her theatre series, and children have succeeded in embracing theatre arts as well as the classics of juvenile literature because of her.

Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales from Hans Christian Andersen collects four "Happily Ever After" episodes, including The Emperor's New Clothes (Alan Arkin, Art Carney, Dick Shawn), The Nightingale (Barbara Hershey, Mick Jagger), The Snow Queen (Lee Remick, Melissa Gilbert), and Thumbelina (Carrie Fisher). Each episode is just under an hour in length for a total runtime of 211 minutes for the entire DVD. The award-winning series strikes it rich with this fabulous bouquet of fairy tale classics.

The Emperor's New Clothes tells the tale of two conmen who weasel their way into the emperor's employ by bragging about their magic cloth which only the intelligent can see and the stupid cannot. The selfish, silly emperor won't admit to not seeing the fabric, so the conmen's ploy succeeds and the emperor experiences horrible humiliations. Along with the bad comes great good; lessons are learned.

The Nightingale brings together two unlikely souls and binds them in friendship, respect, and love. Seeing past the exterior of dull gray feathers, an emperor hears the song of a special nightingale and thinks the creature is the most beautiful and special in the world. No one else enjoys the beauty of the Nightingale's song or personality because he doesn't have the colorful feathers to draw their eyes. After a time of painful separation, the nightingale and the emperor reconnect and heal each other's souls.

The Snow Queen follows a young girl's perilous journey to save her friend. Traveling through magical worlds and meeting creatures with great powers could mean a terrible end if Gerda's heart is not true. Focus and determination will get her far, but the real test is meeting the remnants of her friend and trying to bring his soul back to her.

Thumbelina is a beautiful but miniscule woman filled with dreams that are as unlikely as faeries. When the thumb-sized woman is kidnapped, her life is turned upside-down. Only when she meets her perfect prince do the colors of her life become vivid and real.

The Faerie Tale Theatre productions are meant for school-aged children and, though fantastic, are not ideal for younger audiences. The theatre comes alive in these productions, and younger audiences may find the dialogue and settings more difficult to follow. For viewers young or old, the masterful storytelling and enticing mix of theatre arts and movie magic makes for a very enjoyable family night. Faerie Tale Theatre is represented online at www.faerietaledvd.com.
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reviewed by Sonia R. Polinsky
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