Friday, 19 September 2014

Neil Gaiman's Hansel & Gretel heading to big screen

Neil Gaiman's (Stardust) version of the classic Brothers Grimm tale Hansel & Gretel hasn't even been published yet, but the film rights have already been snapped up. Juliet Blake, who joined forces with Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey to produce this years The Hundred-Foot Journey, is behind the project.

Gaiman's version of the story, needless to say, will be somewhat different to the lacklustre action/horror Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), which, despite indifferent reviews, did surprisingly well at the box office. With gloomily beautiful monochrome artwork by Lorenzo Mattotti, we're promised "a stunning book capturing the terror and longing found in the classic fairy tale: at once as familiar as a dream and as evocative as a nightmare".

While these illustrations might suggest animation as the way to go for an adaptation, the plan at the moment is for a live action feature. There's no talk yet of casting, nor of a screenwriter or director.

But, says Gaiman, "I'm thrilled and delighted to be working with Juliet Blake to bring Hansel and Gretel to the world again, and to show people how much this story has to say to us. For me, retelling Hansel and Gretel was a way of telling an old tale in a way that made it immediate and true, and about us, now. It reminds us of how paper thin civilization really is. It's about hunger, and about families."

Blake was previously a senior executive at National Geographic and president of Jim Henson Television. She similarly optioned The Hundred-Foot Journey before publication in 2009.

Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti is published in the US by Toon Books on 28 October, and in the UK by Bloomsbury on 11 December. The Hundred-Foot Journey is out now.

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