(3/30/04 10:27 am)
Disney movies vs Fairy Tales|
How do disney movies alter/corrupt classic fairy tales? Your opinion counts, so please reply.
(3/30/04 2:59 pm)
if you just want to know the differences between the disney versions
and the other versions, i'd suggest you just read some try www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html
for a large collection of tales; there is no "original"
version of any tale, but you could compare specific tales; if you
were to compare the grimms version of snow white to the disney version
you would find these differences: in the grimm version-- snow white's
mother (later step mother) tries to kill her three times, with stay
laces, a poisoned comb, and an apple; the dwarves are not given
names but paticular attention is given to how clean their house
is and how sleeping arrangements were (there were only seven beds);
snow white does not awaken from a kiss, the prince thinks she's
pretty so he has his servants carry her around in her glass coffin
wherever he goes but one of the servants gets tired of it and in
his frustration hits the "dead" girl in the back thus
dislodging the poisoned apple (latter amended to a clumsy servant
dropping the coffin on the way the princes castle)-- i'll assume
you know the disney version
(3/31/04 10:04 pm)
Have you checked out the archives?|
There are many, many discussions on this subject. Once you have read some of them, I would love to know your opinion.
(4/1/04 12:51 pm)
Change isn't necessarily "corruption"...|
No more "corrupting", I'd say, than, for example, Perrault's changing of Grimm's "Ash Girl" to make the "Cinderella" we know so well. (Perrault gave us the pumpkin carriage, the mice-into-horses, and the fairy godmother. Disney's version is actually pretty close to Perrault.)
I think it comes down to how every version of any folktale reflects
the time, the teller and the intended audience. Grimm's audience,
for example, were mainly the German peasantry, while Perrault's
was the French salon set. (A good site to find out a little more
about this would be www.mouseplanet.com/fairytales
. Maybe it's a little biased since it's on a Disney-friendly site,
but it's a column written by a college professor, Kevin Yee, and
it gives some interesting insights into how Grimm and Perrault were
influenced by their surroundings, and so is Disney.)
Going on from that, there are things that would have been part of the psychological makeup of the older versions' audiences that simply aren't part of a modern (mainly American) audience. For example, among Grimms' peasantry and even in Perrault's salons, people lived side-by-side with the possibility of horrible death--by plague, by childbirth and so on. Infant mortality was greater. That sort of mentality just isn't part of our psyche today.
I guess the only time I really mind changes to a story from a Disney
movie (or, for that matter, any other movie based on a literary
source) is if it's arbitrary, or ill-thought-out. Like I felt a
lot of Sword in the Stone's changes were (it just seemed too hastily
put together to me. Plus the animation style is all wrong for the
story.) But I feel that, say, the Disney versions of Pinocchio and
Mary Poppins are the best possible film versions that can
be made of those two books, which would be very difficult to translate
literally into film, storytelling and character-wise.
Okay, maybe I'm breaking my own rule by liking Disney's "Jungle
Book" so much, but come on...Phil Harris.Louis
(One thing I've always wondered...there are those who fuss over
Disney's changes to certain stories, but as far as I know, nobody's
ever so much as said boo about how different "The Wizard Of
Oz" is to the original book! )
Edited by: JennySchillig at: 4/1/04 12:58 pm
(4/1/04 1:01 pm)
Wizard of Oz|
I've never fussed about the changes to the book because I've always liked the movie so much better! I read all the Oz books when I was a kid (well, all of them up to number 32), and I loved them all, except for the first one, which bored me to tears. But the movie...ah, my favorite movie of all time.
Edited to add that I thought that the Grimms' audience was more or less the 19th-century German middle class. They claimed to have obtained their stories from the peasantry, which claim I think has also been subject to scrutiny, but the books weren't directed at them, I think. I'm no expert on the Grimms, though.
Edited by: Veronica Schanoes at: 4/1/04 1:02 pm
(4/1/04 5:07 pm)
Please pardon my idiocy.|
I hadn't realized that it was actually Perrault's version
of Cinderella (late 1600's) which came first. The Grimms came later
(early-to-mid 1800s). Mea culpa. One might say Perrault supersedes
Grimm in terms of time.
(4/2/04 11:58 am)
there are cinderella varients from all over the globe, you'd have a hard time proving where the story originated; but in general these stories are european traditions (that mingled with middle eastern and north african traditions) and pretty much circulated all around europe; the grimm's rupunzel for example is now probably better known than the italien "parsnip" but is baisically the same story and there were probably hundreds of other varients of it
(4/2/04 1:23 pm)
Wizard of Oz|
I like the movie so much that I don't mind the changes much - however, I must admit that I mutter "*silver* slippers - they're supposed to be *silver* slippers - every time I see those tacky red-sequined high heels.
Disney doesn't bother me much either, though I can't stand their
version of "The Little Mermaid". It annoys me so much
I'll probably not watch it again - I've only ever seen it once.
I love "Beauty and the Beast" but every time I see it
(I own it), I find myself wondering if Robin
McKinley got royalties because I thought the whole "literary
Beauty" idea was her invention. (But - gasp in horror here
- I've not read the original by Madame [misplaced her name].) As
for Mary Poppins - I found the books years after I first saw the
movie and really didn't enjoy them. Don't think I ever finished
reading any of them.
(5/26/04 4:58 pm)
Belle was cool...|
I always like Belle. She read while she walked like I do and that made her so cool. Or at least cool in my 9 year old mind...
Even though they changed the fairytales, I still love Disney movies.
I have not grown out of them- watching them and singing the songs
still makes me so happy
(5/28/04 10:05 am)
Re: Belle was cool...|
DO check out the archives--there's a wealth of
Disney stuff there. Check out the archives in any case. I've only
recently realized how much, and in how much depth, the discussions
cover (you people are so cool!)
My two Disney cents:
Disney was my first introduction to fairy tales, with a few rare exceptions, and I don't think it did me any permanent damage, but if I ever find myself raising children, I won't choose Disney versions first. Once you know what else is out there, its hard to be satisfied with the (sometimes charming) Disney musicals.
Disney isn't the first to change fairy tales--Jack Zipes' The
Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood is a
good place to look to see how a tale can be shaped and reshaped
over time and in differing cultures--but it's such an industry
for Disney. I think this is part of what bothers me about the Disney
fairy tales, that they are so centered around marketing that it’s
more important for them to affix a happy ending (which still, for
Disney, means a marriage) that most people will happily swallow
than to be loyal to any aspect of a fairy tale. What responsibilities
do/should modern tellers and re-tellers of tales have to retain
the authenticity (what we have or can find of it) and meaning of
a traditional tale? When and for whom do we change or get rid of
classic elements of tales like Snow White or Beauty and the Beast?
And how much does Disney really think about the values they are
assigning to these stories? I can't pretend to have answers to all
of these questions, but I try to keep them in my head when reading.
And why does Disney feel such a need lately to show gutsy women who nonetheless are always needing to be rescued? Seems like they’re trying to have things both ways—a strong heroine who really doesn’t undermine the status quo.
Edited by: Erica Carlson at: 5/28/04 10:07 am
(5/28/04 3:41 pm)
This may be mentioned already in the archives, but...
Kellie Bean has a great article called "Stripping Beauty"
in the book _The
Emperor's Old Groove: Disney and the ... something something something..._
(I forget what's after the colon! It just came out recently... 2003?)
where she talks about why Disney's heroines can be so frustratingly
gutsy/in need of rescue. She observes what she terms a "no-means-yes"
trend among the heroines. Ariel strikes out to make her way in a
new world ("ready to know what the people know ... ask them
my questions, and get some answers"), but her motivating factor
is quickly changed from a quest for knowledge to a quest for love;
Belle wants "more than this provinical life," yet she
ends up trapped in a castle (also, she loves to read, but the books
the male artists show her reading are romances); Jasmine wants to
avoid the marriage her father chooses for her, then the first thing
she does when the rule is lifted is to get married, etc., etc. Bean
argues that the heroines come off as feminist, but their sassy,
independent attitudes are basically a character trait that makes
them more attractive to men and thus more marriageable.
Of course, while this approach is fascinating to me, to assume this critical stance is, in a way, to deny the idea that love and marriage can be meaningful choices for many women (cartoon or otherwise). And, I must say that I truly enjoy many Disney movies and often find myself humming Gaston's catchy song at odd moments ("I use antlers in all of my dec-or-ating...").
I'm fascinated by the fact that Disney (via Pixar) is moving away from fairy tales. Suddenly we have Nemo and Brother Bear ... Animal Fables.
In a way this makes me sad, but beast fables (as the next big thing in children's movies, at least) do help us to get away from the problematic "whitewashing" Nalo so aptly described in Shrek (see racism and sexism in tales thread). I bet you all discuss Beast Fables somewhere in the archives ... I'm off to explore!
(This really is the best site.)
(6/2/04 10:16 pm)
Disney and the art of frustration|
My biggest beef with Disney is not that they alter the stories for the sake of accessibility. It's not even that they change ever greater parts of the stories. It's that they commit horrible crimes of sentimentality. Yak! The disgustingly predictable, sappy goo of Disney films depresses me. This trend seems to be getting worse. For example, the impressively scary Malificent in Sleeping Beauty totally eclipsed the insipid fairy ladies. Today, we have a mermaid so unrelentingly good that even a fairly creepy Sea Witch can't compete. The Queen in Snow White is amazing- Scar is only so-so. The other problem, noted previously, is the machine of Disney. Please note that while I dislike most of the newer films, I've seen lots of them. And even if I don't see them, the merchandise is everywhere. I do confess that I loved the movies as a child, but being more familiar with the tales as an adult has spoiled the films for me. I'm a purist at heart. I rarely see films based on written work I love. I've been forced to see all the Lord of the Rings. It makes me want to weep. Why change a truly great work for no reason at all? I could live with abbreviation (sometimes), but most work adapted for the screen seems to be altered for nothing. Disney at least has the bad excuse of trying to make a G rating. I suppose I don't relly understand the point of Disney's continuing to make movies- ultimately, they are all the same. Bound by some mystical "successful" formula... meet characters, have some minor conflict, kill something so the kids will be traumatized forever, good guys win, the end. It's a pity, mostly because what makes the stories so great on paper seems to get left behind. The Little Mermaid is memorable BECAUSE she doesn't succeed. Cinderella is cool because she is clever, not because of the nameless rescuer in the form of a prince. Well, I guess I've ranted enough on this subject... I just wish Disney and Hollywood and all the other offenders would just show the stories as they are. Idealizing or glossing over the difficult parts cheapens them somehow. Diminishes the value. What good is a happy ending if the main character doesn't actually have some character?
(7/1/04 10:10 am)
Rebuttal to Bean...|
"She observes what she terms a "no-means-yes" trend among the heroines. Ariel strikes out to make her way in a new world ("ready to know what the people know ... ask them my questions, and get some answers"), but her motivating factor is quickly changed from a quest for knowledge to a quest for love; Belle wants "more than this provinical life," yet she ends up trapped in a castle (also, she loves to read, but the books the male artists show her reading are romances); Jasmine wants to avoid the marriage her father chooses for her, then the first thing she does when the rule is lifted is to get married, etc., etc."
I'm not sure this is a fair judgment...once Ariel is in the human world, there's no stopping her from learning all she wants to about it, marriage or no marriage.
As for Belle, I wouldn't see her as trapped in the castle...being the heroine of her own story may have satisfied the longing for adventure she had, and there's no reason she and her prince can't do some traveling as well. And as for her reading only romances, heroic romances have been a valid genre for a long time! (And the special edition has her reading Shakespeare with the Beast...it is the "romantic" Romeo and Juliet, but it's Shakespeare! I like to think she admires Juliet as much as I do, and would likewise admire Rosalind from As You Like It and Beatrice from Much Ado as much as I do.)
Jasmine doesn't necessarily want to avoid marriage...just a marriage that is decided for her. ("If I do marry, I want it to be for love...I'm sorry, Rajah, but I can't stay here and have my life lived for me.") Like the heroine of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady, all she wants is the right to make her own choices, and that's what she gets.
(7/1/04 3:46 pm)
Re: Rebuttal to Bean...|
They don't continue to travel because they're fictional--once the movie ends, that's it. We can fantasize that Belle gets to travel around, but that's pure speculation. Given what we see in the movie, Belle's desire for a wider world resolves itself into marrying a prince, just like every other Disney girl. And the happy ending of The Little Mermaid isn't Ariel running around learning lots of stuff--it's her getting married. I haven't seen Aladdin, so I can't really talk about Jasmine.
(7/1/04 7:05 pm)
Re: Rebuttal to Bean...|
Sure they continue to travel around.... According to my daughter, you can see the Disney girls hanging out quite often at the "House of Mouse" via the Disney channel - apparently it is the hangout for all the Disney A-List when not actually performing.
Which brings up a question. Where do fairy godmothers hang out when
not popping out to turn little puppets into real boys or mice into
footmen? I know I have read two books on this subject - one
was about one who lived a mostly quiet life in Seattle and the
other was a
fun romp through an alternate reality for Cinderella - I'm sorry
I don't remember titles. Are there any other good stories out there
in this genre? Actually I think I'd love to read a story about how
the wicked step-mother or evil queen got that way - hear their side
of things for a change!
(7/1/04 9:25 pm)
How the wicked stepmother "got that way"/Bean|
You might try Joanna Napoli's _Zel_
(rewrite of "Rapunzel") or _The
Magic Circle_ (rewrite of "Hansel and Gretel," an
award winner too!). I like how these books explore the tortured
witch/mother and her suffering/madness.
On a side note, Bean also talks about male artists drawing female bodies in her article. She points out how (5'2'', 92 lbs) Belle shows shoulders and cleavage ... then Jasmine shows shoulder, cleavage, and midriff ... then Esmerelda (from Hunchback) shows shoulders, cleavage, midriff, dances sensually in flames, does splits, and has a skirt that clings to her lower body in obviously provocative ways. Bean points out that Demi Moore who played Esmerelda in Hunchback played the heroine in Striptease the same year, and that her character in Striptease continued/completed the figurative removal of clothing that began in the Disney movie.
(7/1/04 10:08 pm)
Re: How the wicked stepmother "got that way"/Bean|
That's so cool! Both the Mouse House hanging out (but is travelling to the Disney Channel really travelling?), which sounds like the set-up for a few jokes I've heard, and the Bean's observations about the Disney heroines.
Terry Pratchett's Witches
Abroad is more or less about fairy godmothers, evil witch-queens,
and what they do all day, but it's not a kids' book--I mean, there's
no sex or violence, well, there's implied violence, and I guess
implied sex, come to that--it's just not a novel for kids. Little
kids. I read it at what, 13, and thought it rocked.
I think what freaks me out most about Disney representations of
their heroines is the lack of distinction between girls and women.
Snow White chokes as a little girl and then wakes up, barely different
(she has slight shadowing of very slight breasts) and smooches with
the Prince. Ariel is a definite kid in the beginning--the most little
sister of any little sister I've ever seen (I know, I know, it says
she's 16, but her affect is such a kid's) with these silly seashells
covering her teeny little breasts, which still look bigger than
her teenier little waist, and at the end she's all smooching with
the prince also. It's all very Gigi,
where she's a kid, and then boom, she's getting married. I hate
that--like there's nothing for a girl between childhood and marriage.
(7/2/04 7:42 am)
Adding to what Veronica said|
Don't even get me started on the issue of the sexy little girl thing.
(When the concept of falling for an older adult woman in Something's
Gotta Give seems revolutionary, we've got problems.)
To add to this discussion, many of these fairy tales are, when read, not really for the 5-7 year olds - part of Disney movies' intended audience. Sure, we can read these stories to them. And kids in that age range like some adventure and romance. But many of the problems the characters face and longings they have are those of older girls and women. I much prefer MG, YA, and adult novel retellings because, to me, they get more to the heart of the stories. They are about coming of age, facing real danger and evil, leaving home, falling in love, distinguishing between true and false friends.
(7/2/04 9:59 am)
House of Mouse is a riot!|
I do enjoy the House of Mouse show...so many clever in-jokes and self-parody!
(7/2/04 10:04 am)
Mercedes Lackey's "The Godmother"|
Oh, and Jen...is the "alternate reality for Cinderella"
you were talking about Mercedes Lackey's book "The
Godmother"? I finished that a month or so ago and I really
liked it! All that business of "the Tradition" forcing
people's lives into the patterns of fairy tales! Maybe that explains
the many different versions of stories!
(7/2/04 10:31 am)
Re: Mercedes Lackey's "The Godmother"|
Yes - it was! I read just about everything she writes and I am fascinated
by her latest foray into remaking fairy tales. "The
Godmother" was so interesting I enjoyed all the different
fairy tales she pulled in - some of the references had me scrambling
to figure out which one she was referring to. I can't even imagine
what a screenplay for Disney written by her would look like - can