"'I should like you to take me to see my great old grandmother.'
The king looked grave and said: 'What does my little daughter mean?'
"I mean the Queen Irene that lives up in the tower - the very old lady, you know, with the long hair of silver.'
The king only gazed at his little princess with a look which she could not understand.
'She's got her crown in her bedroom,' she went on; 'but I've not been in there yet. You know she's there, don't you?'
'No,' said the king, very quietly.
- George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin
There are three doors in front of you. All is quiet for a moment. You can hear the pigeons flapping their wings outside the tower walls. Your throat is dry and your feet sore from climbing. But you forget when you hear the humming. Soft, like a bee.
This part always gets me. My heart pumps and I instinctively lean forward towards the screen. I know what's coming, but it's still somehow new each time. This, my friends, is The Princess and the Goblins.
Although the movie and book have a difference of an "s" in their titles, the same feelings are evoked from both mediums. Did you ever grow up watching or reading this story? I had the movie on VHS and used to watch it all the time. Proof: if I put it in the VCR now, the picture gets all wobbly and the sound is horribly off. For Christmas I ordered it in DVD format, as well as finally getting my hands on the book for the first time (got the sequel included, The Princess and the Curdie). I would highly suggest finding a copy yourself (or... actually... I believe all of it is on Wikipedia... I know!).
Although there is a lot to love, my favorite character is and will always be the mysterious Queen Irene. I don't know yet if the DVD has it, but on the original tape, the film would start with a little talk by a real woman (the voice actress) dressed up as Queen Irene. She had on the sparkling makeup and long white wig. Child safety must have been a big issue at the time because she advertised a card that she said all little girls needed in case they were ever lost or needed help. I can't remember much about the card - it might have had an emergency number on the back, or the child's number, to give to a policeman if there was trouble. I never did get that card, but I always got chills when I watched this introduction. Her voice was so smooth and melodic, yet a bit alarmist at the same time. She was serious about future danger. And she could help you prepare for it.
She told little Irene, in such words: "I'll be here when you need me, though you may not always be able to see me."
I trusted her. I wanted my grandmothers to be like her - full of gentle guidance and floating roses.
I thought of the queen and this film today because I spoke with an old friend of mine for the first time in a while. We were sitting in our respective bedrooms, connected by a phone line, and feeling like we were back in college skidding on dirty dorm floors and eating marshmallow and peanut butter sandwiches. Apparently, I can be a little bit psychic, because I tend to call her right before something major happens. "You always seem to be there when I need you," she said, and I, blushing and yet familiarly snarky, quoted the above words from Queen Irene.
I think her words hold true for a lot of great friendships or any type of important relationships. Even in the age of texting and Blackberries, we still manage to find time to step away from technology and enjoy living. This can take many forms, though sometimes friendships can seem to slip away as we get some metaphorical shut-eye. I believe that you don't always need words to maintain a connection with someone. The connection still holds, even if you're trapped on a desert island without a bottle to send off into the sea.
Throughout the course of the story, Irene is constantly told that her great-great-grandmother is only a figment of her imagination. No one believes her. The danger she faces is not necessarily concerning the goblins, but that she'd stop believing that Queen Irene lives in the abandoned tower. Her father, as I quoted in the beginning of this post, is the only one who seems to know something about this mysterious ancestor. However, he can do nothing until she invites him to see her. Irene is on her own. And she proves strong enough to hold fast to the unconventional relationship with the wise woman.
Please enjoy this amazing moment of the film. I think you'll catch on to it's magic and realize, because I can't do her justice, just how amazing Queen Irene is.
Have a safe and happy new year!