Friday, September 26, 2014

Snow White: Grimm vs Disney

"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,

Who in this realm is fairest of them all?

These are perhaps the most iconic lines from the tale Snow White, both the Disney and original version by the brothers Grimm, and even though the Disney version does stick mainly to the original plot, there are some rather large differences between the two.

The most obvious and at the same time least obvious is the change in the Dwarves. Not much detail is shown about the Dwarves in the original tale so we don't really know if they had names or what their personalities were like or if they were just duplicates of each other. The adding of these details takes away the focus from Snow White and puts in on the dwarves allowing them to in essence become the new main characters of the fairy tale. In the movie, the plot and entertainment does not truly start until the dwarves are on screen as they are much more dynamic than Snow White. They also need Snow White in a childlike way in the movie, their house is a mess, they can't cook and they don't bathe. Whereas in the tale, everything in their home is "indescribably...neat" and they only let her stay because they feel sorry for her. Disney probably added these characteristics to the Dwarves to make the whole movie more entertaining overall, add comedy and to help balance out the incredibly passive- almost to the point of being boring- Snow White.

Disney does not completely change the Dwarves purpose however, he still has them protect Snow White and keep her in a traditionally feminine role. In both the tale and the movie, the dwarves protect Snow White in their home from the Queen. In the movie, their protection is continued when they chase the Queen away from their house and ultimately to her death. They keep Snow White in traditional female gender roles by keeping her in the house, cooking and cleaning.
The Evil Queen also changes; she is seen as more of a sorceress in the movie, casting a spell to make the mirror work as opposed to the tale where she merely begins to talk to it and it responds. The process of her making the apple is also gone into more in depth. The circumstance of her death is the greatest change of the Evil Queen; instead of being forced to dance in red hot slippers until she dies, she inadvertently kills herself in trying to kill the Dwarves as the cliff side crumbles. Disney probably made this change to make the movie more acceptable to children and to help preserve the innocence of Snow White and the goodness of the prince- both of whom would have needed to mercilessly watch the Queen dance to her death. This was also probably to keep with the times of the depression to enforce that if you are a good person, good things will happen and if you are a bad person, bad things will happen to you possibly by your own hand.

The prince is also given a larger part in the movie and has more of a central focus. He is still seen as the savior; however he takes a more active role in saving Snow White by kissing her instead of the apple just getting jolted out of her mouth by accident. This change was most likely made to help reinforce the idea that women need a man to 'save' and fulfill them.

Snow White also changes in the movie; although she is still incredibly na├»ve and innocent, she is portrayed as older. This change was made to match the audience’s idea of a proper marrying age, which was older than the age of around fourteen she likely was in the tale.

The changes Disney made to the Grimm’s version of the tale Snow White were to help match it to his ideals, the ideals of the time, and to spread some joy and hope in the midst of the depression.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Cinderella Rise Tale Motif

While one of the favorite ideas of the public and Fairy Tales is that if you are a good person and you wait, you will marry into higher status or through some amazing act of kindness you are able to advance in status, the reality is not quite as magical. Even though it is possible for people to better themselves and have a "rags to riches" story, often times the way they achieve this is through their own hard work and rarely through some 'magical' act. It is possible for someone to suddenly become successful through help from a seemingly magical benefactor or to marry into riches or success. However, often when someone-especially female- marries into wealth or power there is usually doubt of their own merits and they are often referred to derogatorily  as trophy wives or gold-diggers and they are often looked down upon as merely being physically attractive and having no real success of their own.

The rags to riches stories that is exulted in modern culture is often one where the person in question didn't marry or magically obtain wealth or power, but rather one where they worked long and hard and by their merits, were able to advance themselves. These people are often viewed with more respect and dignity than those who seem to magically advance in society because they are viewed as having worked for what they have instead of having success handed to them. There is somewhat of a magical element in these stories however, where people will say that they were so close to achieving their goal, but couldn't do it on their own and suddenly they are in the right place at the right time, or someone important notices their hard work and in some way they are given that 'magical' boost into what they had worked so hard for.

The traditional Cinderella rags to riches story, where one marries into or is magically given success is not as exulted in the current day due to the view that they had success given to them. However, the slight alteration where a person works hard to get success and maybe close to their goal they have some 'magical' help is received much better because people believe that they earned everything they worked for instead of simply having it given to them or marrying into it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hansel and Gretel: Why MGM would change the Tale?

In the very first version of the tale, the mother was Hansel and Gretel's birth mother, however, the Grimms later changed this to the mother being the children's stepmother- the movie kept to the very original with the mother being the children's own. This was probably to match with the very major change of the mother yelling and sending the children to get berries in a fit of rage instead of the preplanned abandoning of the children with the father's help. This presents the mother as still loving her children, but becoming upset and yelling at here children as opposed to the heartless step-mother who care more about herself than Hansel and Gretel.  The children then get lost and wander their way to the witch's house while their frantic parents search for them. This is very different from the original where presumably the parents did nothing to look for them because they abandoned them and had no intention of going back.

The probable reason behind this major change was to make the film more child-friendly. Then, the children would be presented with an image of parental figures that genuinely loved their children, and tried to help but had flaws like all parents do as opposed to parents who plot to and then carry through with abandoning their children in the forest so that they will be able to eat. This will give children a more positive look at parents and show that even though they make mistakes, they still love their children. If they had shown the original story, it would present a dichotomy of the parent's love-especially the father's love for his children. While at first he protested against abandoning them in the woods, he did go along with it and help their mother/step-mother. However, at the end he is overjoyed to see his children again. This could present a confusing situation to some children who wouldn't understand why one minute he is allowing, and helping, his wife to leave his children in the woods and the next, when they return, he is beyond overjoyed to see them. However, presenting the story the way they did, allows for continuity in the story and the way the parents felt about their children.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What is a Fairy Tale?

"Bibbity Boppity Boo", "I'll wave my wand...", "The curse was cast...” the animals talk, witches live around every corner, dragons and beasts live in every cave and forest, and the silverware speaks! Oh it must just be a Wednesday. This is all commonplace, normal; or at least it is in the realm of Fairy Tales, where the extraordinary happens and at most, the reaction is a raised eyebrow. Magic. Ultimately, this is what defines a Fairy Tale: magic and the acceptance of it as par for the course, as an everyday occurrence.
This is not only what defines a fairy tale however, there are other parts that while not as immediately obvious and memorable as the magic, are just as important. There is a timeless quality in fairy tales- everything happens the way it is supposed to irregardless of time; Sleeping Beauty wakes up 100 years later just as beautiful as when she fell asleep and nothing really concerning society at large has changed either. There are the young and the old; however the aging process is never really shown. The Fairy Tale functions as it should and ignores the progression of time if it needs to.
There is also a heavy use of repetition in the tales. This allows for a build up toward the climax as the story progresses.
 Isolation is also an important characteristic that allows for the audience to focus on that one character as well as allows for the character to focus on the task in front of them and prove themselves on their own.
Fairy Tales favor strong contrasts- the peasant boy wins the heart of the princess- to show that it is the quality of the person that matters, not their lineage.
Fairy Tales are also morally simplistic- there is right and there is wrong, black and white, no gray, no moral ambiguity. This idealistic view of the world that is so clear cut is appealing, there is no doubt in what you are doing- it is either good or bad and not a mixture. This is one of the reasons Fairy Tales are so loved- although the view of the world is simple, it takes out the measure of uncertainty many deal with as they make decisions in the real world.
And finally, and arguably the most important they give hope, allowing for those who desperately need it to look for someone who will save them or allow for them to find the strength to save themselves.