Thursday, September 29, 2011

Disney vs The Brother's Grimm: The Battle Continues

The original Brother’s Grimm tale of “Snow White” differs greatly from Disney’s version in many ways. The original version was much more graphic and lacked the romantic side that Disney had. For example, the evil Queen asks the Huntsman to bring back Snow White’s lungs and liver when he kills her so she can eat them. In Disney’s version she just asks the Huntsman to kill Snow White. Another difference is the ending when Snow White is revived from her death-like slumber. In the original version the prince sees her for the first time asleep and carries her coffin away. On the way to his castle one of his men carrying the coffin trip and the bit of poison apple in Snow White’s throat is dislodged and Snow White awakens. It is much more romantic in Disney’s version. In his the prince comes back and finds Snow White asleep. He awakens her with true love’s first kiss.
Even though the versions differed, they still had many aspects in common. In both versions the evil Queen relied on her magic mirror to tell her who was the fairest of them all. Also, in both versions it is the poisoned apple that the Queen gives Snow White that is her downfall. The dwarfs then place her in a golden coffin and stay by her side.
There are two main reasons that Disney made the changes he did. One was that his movie would be directed at children so he took out the really graphic parts. He changed the Queen’s death that was implied instead of actually viewing her dying. Another reason he changed it was because of the time period in which his movie was produced. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” came out during the Great Depression, a time when people needed hope not more sadness in their lives. That is why Disney added the romantic and hopeful ending. It was exactly what the people of the Great Depression needed. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Cinderella Fantasy

Almost every little girl’s dream is to grow up and become a princess. When the little girl turns fifteen and the magic of fairytales fade away she wants to grow up and marry a rich man. She doesn’t want to have to work and wants to live off her husband’s fortune. However, this really only happens once in a blue moon – when was the last time you heard of a poor girl marrying a rich man?
The story of Cinderella has many elements in it that make Cinderella’s story unfathomable. Magic isn’t real - you won’t have a fairy god mother come grant your wish to go to the ball or save you from your tyrannical step mother. It simply isn’t possible.  Gaining riches by marriage is only slightly possible. It’s one of the classic girl-meets-boy story where the girl ends up marrying the boy THEN finding out he has money. It rarely happens where the girl seeks out the boy because he has money. And in reality, the girl is probably middle class and not dirt poor like Cinderella was.
This motif was created to give girls hope. When they have nothing, they want to listen to a story where a girl in their similar situation comes out on top. They want to hear a story where that girl gains everything she wants and desires. The only way to do this though is through magic.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grimm vs. MGM

The Grimm tale of “Hansel and Gretel” differs greatly from the MGM version.  In the original version the mother is a stepmother where as in the movie it is their biological mother.  In the movie, the blacksmith gives Hansel two flints which Hansel uses to make a fire the night he spends in the wood. Also the baker gives Gretel cookie crumbs that they end up using to mark their trail back from the berries. In the Grimm tale, Hansel never gets flint, and instead of cookie crumbs Hansel uses pebbles the first time and bread crumbs the second time. In the Grimm version the mother convinces the father that they need to leave the children in the forest to fend for themselves. In the movie the children accidentally let the donkey in the house where he eats all of their mother’s custard. The mother becomes so enraged that she tells Hansel and Gretel to go gather enough berries for everyone and to not bother coming back unless they have them.
Even though the film and the tale differ in many ways, they both have similar features as well. In both the movie and the original Grimm tale the witch puts Hansel in a cage and makes Gretel her slave.  Also in both versions the mother is the one that makes the decision to send the children into the woods.  Lastly, in both versions the witch is killed by being put in an oven.
These changes were necessary so the story would make more sense. For example, because they made the mother their biological mother, they couldn’t use the same method of getting the children to go into the woods. It would seem to mean, and the views would detest the mom. However, because they did they set up the scenario with the donkey and the custard. They made the mom feel remorse when Hansel and Gretel didn’t come back that night, making the viewers sympathetic towards the mother.  Also because of how they get into the woods, they needed to set up the bit where Hansel receives his flint and Gretel gets the cookie crumbs. All the changes were needed to make the story flow. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What is a Fairy Tale?

Throughout the years scholars have been trying to find a definition for the term “fairy tale”. Men like the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen have developed a general outline for things that should be included to make a story a fairy tale, and others have built off of said ideas.
To be considered a fairy tale, a story should include a few things. One would be that the story is a narrative; it is told in third person and always has a narrator. The characters should never be telling the story using first person. The story should also contain aspects of magic and be fictional. This would include phenomena like talking animals, witches, warlocks, goblins, orcs, and other magical beings. These magical aspects tend to create a feeling of “beyond reality”, where anything is possible. Fairy tales tend to make children and those who read them use their imaginations, making magical beings like witches and dragons seem plausible.
Fairy tales also stress the importance of the hero versus villain plot line. For example in the Brothers Grimm’s tale “Briar Rose”, the 13th witch is the villain because she puts a curse on Briar Rose, but the Prince is the hero because he ends up saving Briar Rose and awakening her from her slumber. Children also identify with the hero because they too feel like the underdog in most situations. Children feel oppressed by their parents, and are often put into difficult circumstances throughout their lives. It’s nice to have someone to relate to and aspire to be through fairy tales. All little boys want to grow up strong and courageous like princes while all little girls want to be beautiful princesses.
Lastly, fairy tales contain morals and motifs. A moral teaches children lessons and how to overcome obstacles. This links with the concept of children relating to the hero of the story because the hero is normally the one who learns the moral of the tale. Motifs are objects that have a special meaning. This could range from a wide variety of objects, and all tales have them. Again, and example of a motif is the briar patch that grows and covers the castle that Briar Rose is sleeping in. This briar patch is where Briar Rose gets her name.
All of these aspects are essential to creating a fairy tale, and all are necessary if one wants to tell a story full of imagination to teach children valuable life lessons.