Television: The 10th Kingdom

The 10th KingdomThis was a miniseries about a woman from New York City who gets pulled into the world of fairy tales (the Nine Kingdoms).  The woman, whose name is Virginia, travels with her father, a prince who has been enchanted to look like a dog, and a man who is really a wolf (and in love with her).  They are trying to retrieve the magic mirror that will let them return to Manhattan and the prince is trying to save his kingdom.  A wicked queen is trying to take over the kingdom with a dog who has been enchanted to look like the prince.  Everything is very complicated and fairy tale references abound.  Chance plays a big part in the whole adventure, but it is highly entertaining and surprisingly well-woven together.  The story is interesting and enjoyable.

One of the things I found most interesting was the mythology of the Nine Kingdoms themselves.  The story took place two generations after the great fairy tale women supposedly ruled and made the lands great – and it was stressed that it was the women who made the kingdoms what they were (in general, their husbands were barely mentioned).   I was also surprised by who the five women were – Queen Snow White, Queen Cinderella, Queen Riding Hood (?), Gretel, and the Lady Rapunzel.  Gretel’s rank was not stated, how Riding Hood became a queen was never explained, and why Rapunzel was listed as a lady and not a princess was likewise never explained.  Snow White was the most talked about as she was the prince/dog’s grandmother and actually showed up as a fairy godmother sort of figure when they found her grave (death evidently isn’t as permanent in the Nine Kingdoms as it is here).  Her husband was also the only one mentioned – on her tomb and in the town based around where they fell in love.  As far as the movie was concerned, the other women may as well not have had husbands (and perhaps Riding Hood and Gretel did not, we don’t know).  It was interesting that in this world, though, it was clear that women are the historical leaders, both good and bad.

I found the interesting ways they worked in various references, artifacts, spells, curses, and effects from different tales and legends from around the world fascinating.  They were surprisingly varied and often quite subtly employed.  I most liked that the writers were clearly working from the classic Grimms’ versions of the German stories, especially Snow White, rather than the cleaned up and shortened versions we most often hear told today.  For example, the poisoned comb was a major plot point.  Many of the other details usually left out of the story were used as well.  The parts of the story that took place in New York were not as good as those in the Nine Kingdoms.  They felt more clunky and it just didn’t make as much sense.  The miniseries got a lot better once all the characters had fully crossed into the fairy tale world.

I very much enjoyed this miniseries.  It was fun and well told, if a little strange at times.  I doubt that my husband would have enjoyed it as much as I did, but I think that it required a certain appreciation for the type of story that they were telling.  I would definitely recommend it for fans of fairy tales and fairy tale retellings.  It is an entertaining experience, although a long one as well.  And the DVD breaks always come right when you want to know what is going to happen next!

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