14 April 2002 | tinker99
Wonderful, Magical, Spiritual!
Photographing Fairies was loosely based on the book of the same name by Steven Szylagi. It deals with a fictional fairy incident of two girls, in post World War 1 England, who claimed to have photographed fairies; as seen through the cynical eyes of a photographer bent on proving the girls false. Charles Castle, a British photographer who specializes in trick photography. He is a man haunted by the death of his wife. Following a visit to a Philosophical Society meeting where he debunks the mystical by explaining tricks of the camera along side Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he is approached by a woman who has taken a photograph of her daughter with a fairy standing in her hand and is asked to try and disprove the pictures using empirical logic and the modern camera obscura. This begins his adventure into a world he has never believed in and has gone out of his way to disprove. What he finds is unexpected and spiritually magical. Photographing Fairies is as surprising and touching a movie as it is haunting. High-quality cinema at its best - great acting, a clever story, superb special effects, spell binding soundtrack, and an intriguing examination of the religious and philosophical questions we all face. Love, death, grief, spirituality, and rebirth / redemption; these are the critical elements that weave throughout this movie. Toby Stephens gives a stunning performance as a character, Charles Castle who radiates Humanity and feeling, portraying the personal conflict of a man grasping for understanding years after the tragic accidental death of his wife on their honeymoon. Ben Kingsley offers a ruggedly convincing yet disturbing performance as the country preacher (and father of the girls) ministering to his flock amidst the spiritual void of his times in a post WWI English village. He masks the feelings of pride, avarice, rage, homicide, jealousy, infidelity, gluttony, nearly all the seven deadly sins and more. His is the perfect counter to the fantasy elements and brings a convincing sense of realism to the storyline. The girls in this movie are surprisingly innocent in their well-scripted dialogue and action scenes. They are pivotal characters to the childlike view that pits adult sensibilities and reason to the spiritual test.
The music was a subtle treasure throughout the movie. Its main theme is played as everything from a dance tune to a funeral dirge, and it will stay with you far after the movie. It is that `haunting' quality of the tune that adds that extra ethereal touch to the total effect of the movie. The 'death song' is a part of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, and has been recorded by Sarah Brightman as Figlio Perduto. The movie has definite religious undertones. Photographing Fairies makes no distinctions about beliefs. The preacher-father character is the pastor for a small church, and the heaven ideas can be adapted to suit almost any taste. Its challenge is to the basis of belief itself, and begs to ask a single daunting question "What if heaven were as real as a place?" Much of the magic that makes Photographing Fairies such a resounding success is the elements of love / death / and the longing to recapture ones state of personal grace. A feeling of redemption as real and achievable as the magic of a child's innocence. No matter what your philosophical/religious beliefs are, you will be moved by what you feel in this movie. Its touching message will compel you to view this movie over-and-over again.