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7 August 2006
MR OVER THE WEEKEND + COMMENTARY: Why did Hollywood label 'NANNY MCPHEE' magical realism?
Topic: August 2006

[8.10.06]—Opening this Thursday, running through August 20: Amphibian Stage Productions version of the play, Icarus. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, at Texas Christian University, Hays Theater, 2800 S. University Drive, Fort Worth. Admission: $20. Info: 817-923-3012.

[8.14.06]—Reading for Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child. To be held 12:30p at Stacey's Bookstore, 581 Market Street, San Francisco. Free admission. Info: 415-421-4687


[08.07.06]—Bookslut offers this wonderful interview with small press editor extraordinaire Gina Frangello, who has been a strong proponent of magical realist writing within the literary world.


[8.07.06]—The Longest Pregnancy by Melissa Fraterrigo—In a review column from the Associated Press—"…Fraterrigo's stories have been called 'blue collar magic realism,' and she likes that description." Swallow's Tale/Livingston Press, 2006

[08.06.06]—Salamanca by Dean Francis Alfar—Writes Sylvia L. Mayuga for INQ7: "Salamanca makes a good case for magical realism a la Pinoy, although it gives pause for thought on English as the medium for Filipino magical realist literature. Strange, when you consider that our first exposure to this variety of storytelling from the marvelous Latin American writers led by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was in books originally written in demotic Spanish."


Hmmm. I finally saw the movie last weekend on DVD. It was charming, with a perfect cast, terrific sets and a delightful (if perhaps predictable?) plot.

I guess I should have predicted this as well: It's definitely not magical realism. Once again, Hollywood gets it wrong.

Why do they do this? It's ridiculous to say that 'Nanny McPhee' is magical realism when it's clearly fantasy from the get go. A mysterious title character with an untraceable background arrives (either by miracle or prayer) at the home of a man who needs quality childcare for his atrocious children. The new nanny has a magical cane through which she delivers her 'lessons' in the form of implicit spells. The fairy-tale like quality of the storyline is supported systemically in both plot and script when a household servant girl, Evangeline, shares in the grim delights of reading and telling actual fairy tales to the children. Likewise, Nanny McPhee herself suggests to Evangeline in the "happily ever after" scene how the girl is, in fact, the ending to the story.

Folks, fantasy tropes run rampant in this film. The arrival and magical workings of the new nanny is never for once expected to be believed by the audience; this is pure fairy tale.

I suspected as much when I first commented on 'Nanny McPhee' in the MarginNewsBlog [01.30.06]. Reagen Sulewski, commenting for the Monday Morning Quarterback series at Box Office Prophets declared "It's tough to go wrong with magical realism these days—Harry Potter really opened things up," to which I replied, "Oh, don't get me started. Harry Potter is not MR. Harry Potter is not MR. Repeat after me… ."

Let's all try to remember that magical realism wears concrete shoes made out of realism. Maybe Hollywood will catch on.

Let me know what you think.

Posted by at 1:02 PM PDT
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