Dreaming of spring, the mind turns to flowers, butterflies, fairies and… bugs? Well, yes, if you life in southern Maryland. Although it’s been frozen into silence lately, we have a buzzingly diverse ecosystem here in the coastal plains and wetlands, rich in the insect life that supports the abundant bird and fish populations we’re known for.
But fairies? for those, I still have to turn to the world of fantasy. And recently I saw a remarkable film, one that was clobbered at the box office, so you probably didn’t even notice it opening and closing at your local moviehouse.
Which is really too bad, because it is the product of at least a decade’s dreaming by George Lucas and many others in his talented sphere. The movie is Strange Magic, a love story for pre-teen girls that uses popular culture love songs (thus the title!)
Strange Magic is a sound and vision feast directed by Gary Rydstrom, winner of 7 Oscars and 17 Academy Award nominations for sound mixing and editing. Gary is also the son of friend-of-a-friend, and so we go to see his movies even if they’re a genre we would otherwise ignore.
Starting with Lucas’ vision, the creatives borrowed from the insect world for creature design, which includes not only the colorful and bright fairies and elves, but also the creepier denizens of the Dark Forest.
The story has delightfully modern twists: you’ll find no delicate princess here. Marianne, our heroine, doesn’t grieve lost love for long. And the ultimate hero is a surprise, upending the old ‘dark verses light’ clichés.
While it’s probably too late for the cineplex, check it out on DVD or streaming when you get a chance. It’s a gem.