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Fairy Tale: A True Story Details


Two young girls who believe that fairies are real attempt to prove it to the world in this drama based on actual events. In 1917, there is little to be happy about in the Wright household in West Yorkshire, England. Polly (Phoebe Nicholls) and her 12-year-old daughter Elsie (Florence Hoath) are still grieving over the death of Elsie's younger brother, and Polly's niece Frances (Elizabeth Earl) has come to stay with them after her father was declared missing in action during World War I. Polly longs for some sort of proof that there is a life beyond our own, while the two girls ardently believe in fairies and enthusiastically study legend and lore. One day, Elsie and Frances produce photographs of fairies that they claim were playing in their garden; Polly believes that they are real, and soon the snapshots attract international attention. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Peter O'Toole), author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and a confirmed spiritualist, declares the photos "as genuine as the King's beard," while illusionist Harry Houdini (Harvey Keitel), who has devoted much time and energy to exposing phony mediums and psychics, takes a more skeptical view. While Fairy Tale: A True Story presents the appearance of the fairies as fact, analysis of the photographs proved them to be fakes (especially after the same fairies were discovered as illustrations in a children's book published before the photos were taken). The real-life Elsie Wright admitted late in life that the fairy photos were a hoax performed as a "little joke" and that she was always surprised that so many people believed them. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

  • Release date:February 13, 1998


Florence Hoath
as Elsie Wright
Elizabeth Earl
as Frances Griffiths
Paul McGann
as Arthur Wright
Phoebe Nicholls
as Polly Wright
Peter O'Toole
as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Harvey Keitel
as Harry Houdini
Bill Nighy
as E.L. Gardner
Bob Peck
as Harry Briggs
Tim McInnerny
as John Ferret
Mel Gibson
as Frances' Father


Charles Sturridge
Bruce Davey
Wendy Finerman
Ernie Contreras
Screen Story
Ernie Contreras
Tom McLoughlin
Screen Story
Albert Ash
Screen Story
Michael Coulter
Zbigniew Preisner
Composer (Music Score)
Peter Coulson
Michael Howells
Production Designer
Albert Ash
Selwyn Roberts
Tom McLoughlin
Margaret French Isaac
Associate Producer
Paul Tucker
Executive Producer
Shirley Russell
Costume Designer
John Midgley
Sound/Sound Designer
Micky Finch
First Assistant Director
Mary Selway
Graeme Purdy
Properties Master
Selwyn Roberts
Second Unit Director