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Film: Fairy Tale A True Story
Fairy Tale: A True Story is a 1997 film about two young girls, Elsie (Florence Hoath) and her cousin Frances (Elizabeth Earl), who claim to play with fairies. One day, to prove to Elsie's parents that they aren't making it up, the girls take several photographs of them. Shocked, her mother takes the photos to an expert and they are declared genuine. Word gets out, and the girls become instant celebrities and the press and fairy hunters descend on their home.

The film also stars Harvey Keitel as Harry Houdini and Peter O'Toole as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Age Lift: Elsie is twelve in the film but was sixteen in real life. Frances was also nine but gets bumped down to eight.
  • Agent Mulder: Pollie Wright.
  • Agent Scully: Harry Houdini's portrayal in the film.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: One of the real girls confessed on her deathbed in the 1980s that they faked the whole thing with paper cutouts.
    • The real Frances however maintained that one of the photographs was genuine. She also never denied seeing the fairies.
  • Blitz Evacuees: A variation. Although it is set during World War I when there was no Blitz, Frances's situation is quite similar.
  • Character Name Alias: When the story is published in The Strand magazine, the girls' names are changed to Alice and Iris.
  • Cheerful Child: Frances.
  • City Mouse: Averted. When Frances comes to Cottingley, the rest of the girls at school are the ones shown as ignorant.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Elsie mostly wears black clothes to symbolise she is still mourning her brother. The first time she wears white is when Sir Arthur comes to visit. Afterwards she is shown wearing more colours.
  • Composite Character: Edward Gardener was merely the chairman of the Theosophical Society. The movie combines him with the speaker who was at the meeting Polly Wright attended, for convenience purposes.
  • Conflict Ball: Numerous tourists and fairy hunters trampling the beck searching for the fairies momentarily leads the girls to believe the fairies won't speak to them again. They're wrong.
  • Death by Adaptation: Frances's mother. In reality she went to live with the Wrights along with Frances.
  • Fairy Companion: Well duh.
  • Fiery Redhead: Inverted. Elsie is the redhead but is the quiet one while Frances is the Fiery Blonde.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Defied by Elsie in her speech at the end.
  • Guardian Angel: Elsie's deceased brother Joseph is implied to be the family's. The topic comes up later when a sick boy wants the girls to ask the fairies to cure his sickness.
    Elsie: Fairies can't make you feel better. You'll have to ask your Guardian Angel to do that.
  • The High Queen: Alluded to with the fairies' Queen Mab.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Both Houdini and Doyle.
  • House Fey: Initially just in the beck behind the house but they eventually visit the house.
  • The Ghost: Frances's father. Until the end.
  • If It Bleeds, It Leads: The character of the journalist desperate to uncover the truth behind the fairies.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Frances and her corporal. Also Elsie and Houdini sort of.
  • Missing Mom: Frances's mother is dead. When Aunt Pollie tucks her in, they look at a photo of a woman and Pollie says "I miss her too".
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There's Arthur Wright and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • The Oner: Towards the end where the fairies fly through the garden, up and down the chimney and into the Wrights' living room.
  • Oop North: In the form of Cottingley, Yorkshire.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Mr Gardener gives a talk about angels as part of his movement.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Essentially most of them appear as the standard Winged Humanoid type, though one is shown having a tail like a mermaid and a miniature horse is also seen.
  • The Pollyanna: Frances.
  • Posthumous Character: Joseph.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Frances is Red, Elsie is Blue.
  • Shrinking Violet: Elsie, though only because she's still grieving for her brother.
  • Supernatural Proof Father: Arthur Wright, which is true to real life. He doesn't believe until he sees a fairy at the end.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: A non-romantic example. Elsie is uptight while Frances is wild.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film is story of The Cottingley Fairies, which is followed pretty close to fact - except those were definitely fake, while this film leaves the veracity of the girls' photographs uncertain. (There are actual fairies shown, but so are painted paper cutouts, and we never see the girls taking the photographs.)
    • What's more is that Frances was already back living with her family by the time the second set of photographs were taken.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The reporter who sneaks into the house and finds the cut-outs of the fairies gets scared off but we never find out what became of him. Especially since the photos weren't exposed as fakes until the 1980s.
  • World War One: The film takes place in England during the war.


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alternative title(s): Fairytale
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