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The 50 greatest fairy tale movies

40. Alice In Wonderland (1915)

The Fairy Tale Movie: The first full adaptation of Alice (after the eight-minute short of 1903) is a fifty-minute silent movie, which uses a raft of vivid imagery to perfectly capture the irreverent mayhem of the source material. When the narrative is this much of a mindfuck, who needs dialogue anyway?

Most Magical Moment: The arrival of the ginormo-headed Duchess. Yikes!

39. Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders (1970)

The Fairy Tale Movie: This Czech oddity uses various fairy tale tropes to convey the traumatic nature of a little girl's journey into adulthood as she gets her first period. Extremely dark, but an innovative way of adapting the genre.

Most Magical Moment: The occasional lapses in the appearance of the handsome prince, who is hiding a deathly white secret behind his veneer of charm.

38. The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (1988)

The Fairy Tale Movie: Terry Gilliam's sprawling fantasy is the dictionary definition of 'uneven', but there's plenty of fun to be had along the way, including Robin Williams removing his own head and Uma Thurman dancing in mid-air.

Most Magical Moment: The introduction of a monstrous sea creature who swallows the travellers whole.

37. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

The Fairy Tale Movie: Hiyao Miyazaki's joyful fantasy is an offbeat love story involving witches, wizards and the walking palace that gives the film its name. There are echoes of Peter Pan in Howl's unwillingness to grow up, but this one is too much of an original for any other comparisons to really stand up.

Most Magical Moment: The discovery of the wondrous dream cave in which Howl's true nature is finally revealed.

36. Ella Enchanted (2004)

The Fairy Tale Movie: A wry spin on Cinderella in which Anne Hathaway sets out to find her prince, in order to break the spell of obedience under which she labours. Watch out for The Princess Bride's Cary Elwes as the villain, and Steve Coogan as the voice of his talking snake.

Most Magical Moment: An encounter with a group of hungry ogres in which crisis is narrowly averted by the arrival of Hugh Dancy's swashbuckling prince.

35. LadyHawke (1985)

The Fairy Tale Movie: An oft overlooked '80s offering from Richard Donner, in which Matthew Broderick's thief attempts to reunite a cursed knight and his beau, who have been transformed into a wolf and a hawk respectively. An ace supporting cast takes this one up a few notches, with Michelle Pfeiffer, Rutger Hauer and Alfred Molina all joining in the fun.

Most Magical Moment: The first appearance of the bewitchingly beautiful Pfeiffer. Now that's magic

34. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

The Fairy Tale Movie: The last Disney fairy tale produced by Walt himself, in which the titular princess is cursed by cruel fairy Maleficent and doomed to an eternal sleep until woken by the kiss of true love. Enter the noble Prince Phillip

Most Magical Moment: What do you think? It's the kiss isn't it! Made all the more awesome by the fact that Phillip has come straight from chucking a sword through Maleficent's heart

33. The Company Of Wolves (1984)

The Fairy Tale Movie: Neil Jordan presents a profoundly messed-up, psycho-sexual take on the Little Red Riding Hood story, including several elements you won't remember from the original tale. A jilted husband ripping his own face off, for one

Most Magical Moment: The wedding party scene in which a gatecrashing witch transforms the guests into a pack of snarling wolves.

32. The NeverEnding Story (1984)

The Fairy Tale Movie: A shy little boy with a love of books escapes the trials and tribulations of school life by disappearing through the pages of one dusty old tome into a magical fantasy land, where he must help save the locals from an advancing force known as The Nothing.

Most Magical Moment: When our hero first meets Falkor, the luckdragon. It just about balances out the horror of Artax's death.

31. Shrek 2 (2004)

The Fairy Tale Movie: The plot might be stretched a little thin second time around, but Shrek 2 is still stuffed with sly, genre-mocking humour and loveable characters. Not as startlingly original this time then, but no less enjoyable for all that.

Most Magical Moment: The giant gingerbread man is a bit of a crowd pleaser, as he sets about smashing up the castle's defences.

George Wales
George is GR's resident movie news person, based out of London. He understands that all men must die, but he'd rather not think about it.