Monday, October 19, 2009

Nibble Nibble Little Mouse - Hansel & Gretel and Halloween

Hansel & Gretel
by Scott Gustafson

Halloween is approaching and this year I have a whole different perspective on it. It's always been one of my favorite holidays for many reasons. From the serious remembrance of our ancestors and consideration of the supernatural through to whimsical decorating and dressing up by adults and children alike, there's lots to celebrate for many different people. This year, as I try to figure out what costume my 2 year old is going to wear, the thought of gingerbread houses and strangers with candy is giving me nightmares!Hansel and Gretel in the Woods
(Artist Unknown)

There's no doubt Hansel and Gretel is one of the scariest popular fairy tales out there - parents that go beyond neglectful and purposely leave their children to die in the wood, a cannibalistic witch... it's the stuff of nightmares. And at Halloween candy and nightmare houses suddenly abound, turning our suburban streets into very different places. I fully understand the paranoia of parents only accepting wrapped candy and chocolate and the sensibility of those who will accompany their children door too door (I will be one of them). While there's no question of doing both of these while my child is so young I know I will have to come to terms with sending my son out into the wilds of suburbia and using his judgment on whether or not to accept the treats offered to him (and this extends beyond Halloween too, of course).

Gingerbread house at the Festival in Qormi, Malta

In the meantime, here's a house made of sweet breads and candy, inspired by Hansel and Gretel that I wish we COULD have visited. On Saturday (October 17, 2009), in Qormi, Malta a local cultural and folkloric festival was held called Ljel f'Casal Fornaro. Qormi is known as 'la casa del fornaio' - 'the house of the baker' - and baking of all sorts is a huge part of this event. One local pastry chef was inspired by Hansel and Gretel and made/created/constructed a complete gingerbread house.

From a TIMES OF MALTA on the festival:
Man does not live on bread alone... A staggering 250kg of chocolate, 1,200 lollipops, 40kg of assorted sweets, 50 bags of marshmallows and 250 pieces of chocolate make up this Hansel and Gretel-inspired house of sweets. The brainchild of pastry chef Ronnie Caruana, this suite of sweets is more than one month in the making. It will go on display during Lejl f'Casal Fornaro in Qormi on Saturday (October 17th, 2009).

Staggering indeed.

I was always curious as a child how such a thing could possibly be constructed in the middle of the wood, surviving the elements, without very strong magic. And why, if that were the case, could the witch not conjure up something she herself would find palatable. But perhaps that's the point.

Image from Project Gutenberg - Artist unknown

At least Hansel and Gretel survive the experience (or so the story says anyway). Did you ever wonder how such an experience would affect the siblings? Well, we're apparently we're about to find out.


Norwegian co-writer and director of the horror comedy ‘Dead Snow’ Tommy Wirkola is putting a little twist on the whole dark children’s tale of Hansel and Gretel. This new idea explores what happened to Hansel and Gretel 15 years after the gingerbread house incident. They have become bounty hunters that specialize in tracking down and killing witches.

Hansel and Gretel

by Cattish (deviantART)

Adam McKay (one of the Producers) said this about the movie:

“The idea is, they’ve grown up and they hunt witches. It’s a hybrid sort of “old-timey” feeling, yet there’s pump-action shotguns. Modern technology but in an old style...

Sounds promising. Unfortunately this next comment has me cringing and thinking the producers (McKay and Will Ferrell) are thinking marketability, not story:

"We heard it and we were just like, ‘That’s a freakin’ franchise! You could make three of those!’ “
Yikes. Unless by that they mean making Red Riding Hood a werewolf hunter...

Hansel and Gretel

by Laura Palmer (lpspalmer on deviantART)

Then Tommy Wirkola added these comments about the film a couple of months later:

“It’s an action-adventure horror movie that finds Hansel and Gretel fifteen years [after their first witch incident] and they’ve grown up to become merciless witch hunters. Blood and gore and action, all the stuff that I love. I’m working on the first draft now so it’s a little ways off, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s definitely an R-rated movie, the first draft has a lot of blood and guts. First and foremost, it’s an action movie, I think, with horror elements. And of course some dark humor as well. But the action and horror are the most import feelings I want.”

From the twenty or so announcements about the film I've read, people (generally) really like the idea. Reviews on the Director's previous movie "Dead Snow" are very positive with people finding a good balance of comedy against the horror.

Hansel & Gretel
(Artist Unknown)

The film will be live-action and heavy on the effects. No casting has been announced yet but Will Ferrell is confirmed as staying off-camera and sticking to his Producer's chair on this one. The budget is reportedly on the tiny side for any kind of film so I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing considering the effects load. Let's hope the film has some substance and doesn't end up as a B-Grade slasher instead.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is currently due for release in 2011.

Hänsel und Gretel by Cory Godbey
(You can see more of Cory's work in this previous post HERE)

*Sources for quotes about the film are HERE and HERE.
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