The Fairest of Them All - 10 Fairy-Tale Movies for Adults


No, you pervs, these are not X-rated versions of fairy-tales. When I say they are for adults, I mean they are too intellectual, idolatrous, scary, violent, and, ahem, sensual for kids to enjoy or even understand. These ten magnificent examples come to show that maybe we have grown-up, but we’re still children at heart.

In no particular order:

Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau)


Call me old-fashioned, but I find Cocteau's homemade visual effects way more charming and bewitching than Disney's recent, big-budget live-action adaptation. Just like George Mèlies before him, Cocteau found in cinema a way the best medium to become an artist and a magician.


Tale of Tales (Matteo Garrone)

Il racconto dei racconti | 2015 | Italy, France, UK

Giambattista Basile’s works have been languishing in obscurity in comparison to the more popular stories by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault, so Matteo Garrone decided to pay tribute to this Italian poet with three unconventional tales that are more heartbreaking than enchanting.


Three Wishes for Cinderella (Václav Vorlícek)

Tri orísky pro Popelku | 1973 | CZECHOSLOVAKIA

In this feminist take of Cinderella, our protagonist couldn't care less about royal blood or marrying the (silly) prince: she only craves for equality, liberation, and to prove that she's smarter than everyone else. The prince is just a stepping stone.


Donkey Skin (Jacques Demy)


Behind all the flamboyance, those lavish costumes and a French cast to die for, that includes Catherine Deneuve, Jean Marais, Delphine Seyrig and Jacques Perrin, among others, there lies an incest subplot that makes you wonder what kind of stories they told children back in the old days. Sleep now, little kid, or your father will try to marry you. Yuck. Not only the stories by Charles Perrault or the brothers Grimm were cruel and gory, apparently, they were also quite twisted.


The Living World (Eugène Green)

Le Monde Vivant | 2003 | France

The Living World has knights, ogres and faithful lions, but in Green's below-budget production, knights wear jeans, ogres don't appear on screen (as you'll only see their claws), and lions are played by golden retrievers. Just like a kid who prefers a cardboard box than the toy inside the box, Eugène Green knows that imagination is what rules the world.


The Company of Wolves (Neil Jordan)

1984 | UK

Neil Jordan and co-writer Angela Carter take Little Red Riding Hood’s already terrifying premise to the next level with a Gothic horror film that’s equally fun and disturbing. Little Red Riding Hood was always meant to be about menarche, but I didn’t know it was such an ordeal.


Blancanieves (Pablo Berger)

2012 | Spain

In this retelling of Snow White, Pablo Berger transfers the whole story to the south of Spain in the 1920s and tells it as a movie from the silent era. Berger gets rid of the magic mirror but keeps the poisonous apple, and adds to his adventurous formula some flamenco rhythms and bullfighting scenes. You can’t get more Spanish than this.


Sleeping Beauty (Ado Arreta)

Belle Dormant | 2016 | France

Sleeping Beauty may be the most suitable choice for kids of this whole Top Ten as this movie is the most straight-forward one. Prince Charming looks for the titular heroine, finds her, wakes her up and they live happily ever after. The End. Even Disney's version has more plot devices than this one. But Arrieta's intentions are different: his nostalgic approach is more interested in the magical glamour of queens and fairies than the devious plan of witches and ogres.


Beauty and the Beast (Juraj Herz)

Panna a Netvor | 1978 | Czechoslovakia

The grotesque Beast costume should give you a hint that this is not your typical sweet and adorable fairy-tale adaptation, where the relationship between Beauty and Beast is creepy and passionate at the same time.


Time Has Come (Alain Guiraudie)

Voici venu le temps | 2005 | France

In Alain Guiraudie’s gay-friendly fable, there are hero, princesses and phones coming from trees. But there are also ruthless assassins, drug use, highly-erotic sex scenes and a not-so-easy plot in a movie that’s clearly not for the youngsters.

See also

Bluebeard, directed by Catherine Breillat (2009) | The Little Mermaid, directed by Karel Kachyna (1976) | Orpheus, directed by Jean Cocteau (1950) | The Pied Pier, directed by Jacques Demy (1972) | Valerie and Her Weeks of Wonders, directed by Jaromil Jires (1970)