My version of "Once Upon A Time"
If I were to adapt "Once Upon A Time" into a film, I would elaborate further into the plot of this story. I would keep the original context of its frame-story structure, but I would go into much more detail when describing the lives of the fictional "fairytale" characters. While they are deciding what extra safety measures to take, I would show them browsing through different catalogs and going to different stores to find the latest and greatest gadgets. I would exaggerate the process of them growing more ridiculous with all the over-precautions which are added to their house. In the beginning, I would spend more time introducing the narrator to the audience. The scene of her waking up in the middle of the night and hearing footsteps would be highly suspenseful and drawn out. I would really want the audience to feel the fear and paranoia that she feels in order to understand the meaning of the work more clearly.
Point of View
In terms of point of view, I would probably keep this fairly consistent with that of the short story. The narrator would remain the character at the beginning, but I would also spend more time introducing her. Because this story is originally told as a satire, it is critical that those watching the film understand the sarcasm of the narrator. If this parodied style of writing is not sensed, then the work will lose some of its significance. I think it is important to leave the point of view as an objective perspective so that the audience can decide for themselves what they decipher the meaning to be. If the narrator inserts her thoughts and feelings on the characters, then those watching may not sense the ambiguity for themselves; instead, they might take on the opinion of the one telling the fictional tale.
Oh boy, time for characters! In my adaptation of the film, I would definitely expand on the depth of the characters in this story. By giving them more dialogue, displaying their interactions, and showing them in their everyday environment, it would allow the audience to get to know them on a more personal level. Furthermore, if the characters were easier to connect with, then the context of the story would be more interesting and even more powerful. For instance, if I began to care about the little boy in the story, then I would be heartbroken to watch his bloody demise at the ending. The parents' noble intentions to keep their family safe would be clear, but their failure to recognize the danger they in turn created would be understood as well. It is my belief that the more a character is elaborated on, the more an audience grows to empathize with them. Also, I would be sure to make clear connections with the characters and their alternate "fairytale" identities. There would be a mother-in-law/wise old witch comparison, and the it would be evident that the little boy was trying to act like a "knight in shining armor" at the end.
While I think it is important for this film to remain modernized, I would probably move its setting to a more famous area where extensive safety measures are truly taken. Perhaps Hollywood, or say, the Hamptons. By moving the setting to a realistic location rather than a fictional one, I think that the irony of the story would be much greater. Showing the real paranoia and fear that society creates would heighten the idea that people often imprison themselves trying to protect their lives from danger. Oftentimes, people are completely oblivious to the fact that they are the greatest danger to themselves. Therefore, if the film setting of this story was realistic, I think that the concept would be equally realistic. As for the characters' house, I would want it to distinctly resemble a castle - complete with a pond, or "moat", and a large gate surrounding it. In other words, "castle walls". These resemblances would amplify the parallelism between the modern-day family and a fairytale family.
Throughout "Once Upon A Time", the irony that the mother and father destroyed the life that they were trying to protect was the greatest theme. I really liked this concept because I found the author's satirical approach to a normally dreary subject matter to be witty and humorous. Granted, the theme was not necessarily a happy one, but I thought it was a clever all the same. Therefore, I would want the theme of my film to be how a person's greatest fear is fear itself. The characters in this story spent so much time worrying about how to ensure their own safety that they forgot how to actually look after themselves on their own. They let go of their common sense and depended entirely on technology and security devices to do their parenting for them. At one point in the story, they were inspecting their neighbors' new security gates and they failed to realize that their little boy was running away from them in the street. He could have been hurt, or kidnapped, or worse! It is important for people to remember that they cannot allow themselves to get caught up in society and forget about what they know. Ironically enough, it is the essence of safety that ends up being what is most dangerous to this family. It is an unexpected twist to a normal child's story, and an even more valuable lesson.