(9/30/00 10:16:56 pm)
|Disney and Fairy Tales--Helping Natasha|
I have been working with Natasha on her project and she has asked some interesting questions about fairy tales and Disney. I thought I would take one of her questions and post it here to help her out and see if an interesting discussion develops. This is also another opportunity for people to voice their opinions on Disney's influence and how fairy tales are perceived today.
Here is her question:
How do you feel about Disney's versions of traditional fairy tales? Are they the natural evolution of stories that are hundreds of years old?
Here was my initial response. Please feel free to add your comments.
I think the Disney versions reflect the era in which they were produced. The stories have been continuously changed by storytellers to suit their purpose and audience. Unfortunately, Disney's medium of telling the story is more permanent and has greater influence.
The entire dilemma with Disney and fairy tales is filled with irony.
Without Disney, the tales might not be known as well today in any
form. Disney's versions of the tales have become the most commonly
recognized by children and adults. However, Disney may never have
gained its popularity and influence without the fairy tale movies.
After all, Snow White was his first major commercial success. The
main office building at the Disney studios has a features the seven
dwarfs as the columns holding up the building. Disney employees
and visitors are reminded that Disney was built upon Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs. Without Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty,
and the others, Disney may not have become the conglomerate it is
today with all of its many influences.
Disney has also influenced authors to write and explore the tales. The backlash against the Disney versions has been marked. Perhaps Anne Sexton, Angela Carter, Robin McKinley and many others would not have written their fairy tale works without Disney's presence. Certainly the feminist backlash against fairy tales in the 70s was sparked in part by the Disney versions.
(10/1/00 8:40:49 am)
This is a very quick reply--but I know Terri in her folkroots columns often looks critically at the disney treatment. The best one was her column on Beauty and the Beast. It can be found in the Endicott Studio Forum section of the web site (www.endicott-studio.com). I'm sorry I am a bit useless right now myself as I am grappling with a Masters oral defense coming up...and can only seem to think about Post colonial literary theory...but if something interesting crosses my path I'll be sure to pipe up! Good Luck with the project.
(10/1/00 2:45:59 pm)
|Disney and Fairy Tales|
Hmmmm. This is a tough one since I grew up in such a media-fed household. As a child, I was terrified actually by the Disney fairy tales more than I was drawn to model myself after the heroines. The fear instilled by violence, hatred, punishment- and the modes used- vibrant colors in shocking, rapid motion, the music, proportion, it all lended more towards nightmares. All I remembered for years was the witch in Snow White, gruesome and evil, and her plummeting death scene. Not the mild mannered girl-child who was obedient, has a pretty voice, and married a handsome prince (though I was marriage obsessed at an early age, I didn't relate it to the films).
I think they may have a been a branch in the evolution of the tales, as there is never one true path of evolution. The original set of fairy tales (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty) I believe evolved out of the era they were created in. Propaganda, ideals, the glamour of Hollywood, all made its way into animation through Disney. I must admit I thought the animation far more appealing than the modern Disney fairy tales (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) which, while trying to be more modern with issues and messages, still give off the same images. Wide eyed females, always getting into trouble, handsome prince to the rescue (though Beauty and the Beast is a small exception in the rescuing department). The music I believe has at least evolved, from dreamy eyed longing for a prince to just wanting freedom. The princes seem to have evolved from being nameless, to having a name and a drop of courage to having a name and some character or even the main character.
Hmmm, that's it for now. I'll have to think about the original tales and their versions on page, stage, and screen.
(PS- are there other tales that you consider under the Disney film list? Do you consider Robin Hood, Sword & the Stone, Hunchback or only the "traditional" fairy tales?)