We watched the old Gene Kelly film, set in the Scottish Highlands in a mysterious vanishing village.

It's based on an old fairy tale, but this version -- in deference to mid-20th century American culture -- has been carefully Christianized. Strangely, maybe, that ends up making the story less plausible. I, at least, find it far easier to believe you might meet a fairy lady in a glen than to believe that God would send a village into a kind of timeless mist, under the conditions that they sacrifice their only priest and that, if anyone should leave the village, the whole population would be destroyed. Those wild conditions sound like the Faerie way more than it sounds like God.

On the other hand, Chesterton makes a great deal out of the similarity between fairy stories and the practical facts of reality. Wild conditions do seem to proliferate in both: cross this bridge, and the village vanishes forever; eat this small red berry, and you die.


Texan99 said...

Love that movie.

When I was surfing free Kindle downloads the other day, I ran across a study of comparative mythology from the late 18th century that I've been enjoying thoroughly. You run into all kinds of familiar thinking in the Indo-European myths and folklore. Right now he's tracing a number of versions of the story of William Tell shooting the apple off of his son's head.

Grim said...

What struck me most aside from the fairy tale modification was something the movie really gets right. When the one young man who wants to leave the village is accidentally killed -- remembering that his leaving would have destroyed everyone else in the village -- his father kneels at the side of his dead son and cries, "Ah, how could you be so selfish? I'm so ashamed for you."

Nobody in Hollywood today would have thought of that, but that's exactly how a Scottish Clansman of that era would have thought about it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Name-drop. I did this show with Glenn Close, back when she was Glennie Wade in college. She was Fiona, of course, and an excellent one.