Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blog Entry 5

While the Walt Disney’s version of “Snow White” does the original Grimm fairytale a fair amount of justice, there are still numerous obvious differences. A fairly large difference between the two versions is the fact that the film is not nearly as dark as the original story. This, of course, was done for a particular reason, that being that the movie theater was a place where one might go to escape reality and considering that the film was released during the depression, a lighter and happier film was certainly more ideal. The film includes cheerful songs, dancing and plenty of adorable animals who, just by being cute, manage to create a more pleasant experience for the viewer. The Dwarfs, as characters, are also explored much more than they were in the original text; for example they are given names to fit personalities they didn’t formally have. They provide us with an appropriate amount of comic relief to keep us entertained and therefore become slightly more important to us.

Though it could be said of nearly any of the Grimm’s fairytale protagonists, Snow White wasn’t originally very relatable. We are constantly told by English teachers to show not tell in our writing which is something the Grimm brothers tend not to do. We are told how sweet, caring and good these young girls are, but it’s never really clarified. In the Disney films, though the characters could still be explored a little more, we get a better picture and true understanding of why we should love them as much we do. Disney’s Snow White character is one we can relate to more, not only because we can physically see her, but because she has been given more of an important “role” plot-wise. In the Grimm’s story, she is only seven years old, which makes her slightly less capable of acting in more mature and even heroic ways, while in the Disney adaptation, she is probably a good ten or so years older and thus more – debatably – mature.  

Another significant difference is that the film is extremely romanticized; from the love at first “song” all the way to true love’s kiss, speaking of which leads us to the Prince’s character who becomes much more important. Even though he, like practically all of the other princes, only really spent about five minutes or less with our female lead, he was still absolutely positive that he had met his match. Yes, it seems shallow to us now, but in comparing it to the Grimm’s story, their relationship seems like one that’s lasted a lifetime.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blog Entry 4

Is it really possible, as it was in Cinderella’s case, to go from “rags to riches?” Well of course it’s possible, but unfortunately not with the help of something as convenient as a Fairy Godmother. In the real world, we ourselves, in a sense, have to take on that role and actually fight in order to get there. Our kindness won’t help us but rather our will power.

Cinderella was pretty darn lucky to receive as much help as she did from her Godmother and gang of furry and feathered friends. For, if it hadn’t been for them, she never would have made it to the kingdom’s royal ball at all, and therefore never meet her true love. When we read her story as kids, we find ourselves cheering her on, praying that she get a happy ending. Now, though we still side with her, we find ourselves already assuming that she does and sometimes even become quite jealous. Why can’t our lives be that simple?! As kids, we believed in the magic that aided our hero, but as we grew older, we came to discover that the story of Cinderella is extremely unrealistic. But is it…?

Perhaps we take the word magic a little too seriously. As I said before, it is most certainly possible for one to go from the bottom to the top, but that magic we wish would occur is actually something we produce ourselves.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blog Entry 3

I was surprised to see numerous differences from the original Grimm Brothers fairytale when watching the MGM version of Hansel and Gretel. For one, as creepy and unnerving as the story already is on paper, the director of the film clearly had fun adding a few theatrically weird and freaky effects to engage – or terrify – the viewer. For example: the freaky ghostlike voices laughing and calling out to Hansel and Gretel while they wander through the woods innocently picking berries. If that isn’t enough to scare a small child, I don’t know what is…

Plot-wise there were quite a few changes as well, though they didn’t affect the way by which the story unfolded or ended. In order to fill an appropriate time length for a feature film, the director added a scene during which the children and their father go into town to do some 19th century-style grocery shopping. A new sub-plot was then created where we learn that the father has issues with the local baker, who refuses to pay what he rightfully owes, increasing the extent of the family’s financial struggles. Another significant change in plot is the fact that the mother actually cares about her children. Not only that, there is never any discussion between her and her husband of abandoning their children in the middle of the woods. In fact, unlike in the original story, the mother is portrayed as the strongest member of the family in that she makes sure that everyone is well taken care of. For, if it hadn’t been for her, the father never would have returned to the baker to claim his money. She is portrayed as the “meaner” of the two parents, but in the end, we, along with Hansel and Gretel, come to discover that she is an important character and loving mother.

Though there are differences, the film still stays true to the original text. Aside from the fact that the children are not abandoned by their parents, the basic order of events stays pretty much the same: Hansel and Gretel find themselves lost in the woods; they come across a house made of cake and candy where they meet a practically blind witch who then holds them captive so that she can later eat them; and in the end, the children manage to kill the witch, escape and return home along with an enormous pile of jewels.

There are many reasons for the story to be modified for the film, the main one being to appeal to a wider range of audiences. It was still kid friendly, but with the slightly scary additions like the weird voices in the woods or the “graphic” cooking of the duck and witch herself, the film most likely attracted a slightly older age group. Also, why not have Gretel push the old witch into the oven herself? Perhaps it was too gruesome or portrayed Gretel as somewhat of a murderer? There are many ideas for why these changes were made but all the same, the story of Hansel and Gretel, both in writing and film, is a timeless and unforgettable story we all know and appreciate no matter how strange or spooky.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blog Entry 2

A fairytale is a fictional story that serves the purpose of teaching both children and adults moral lessons. It’s simple to construct once you know exactly what a true fairytale consists of: a protagonist, an antagonist, a goal, and an obstacle. The protagonist, either a male or female, is usually portrayed as the beautiful, or handsome, outcast. They are often very different from all other characters included in the story. For example, in Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, or Brier Rose, seems to be the only living being in the entire kingdom with blonde hair. The antagonist, most often both physically and emotionally unattractive, always has one specific goal, which is usually to overcome the protagonist. The protagonist’s goal is generally what leads them on an adventure. For example in Little Red Cap, the goal is to deliver food to the elderly and sick grandmother, and in order to perform the task, Little Red Riding Hood must set out on a journey through the woods where she eventually encounters the next thing on the list – the obstacle. The obstacle in a fairytale is usually closely related to the antagonist. Sometimes the obstacle is actually the antagonist himself or herself, like in Little Red Cap.

Fairytales may have variations or surprises; sometimes the protagonist may prevail victorious over the antagonist in a good vs. evil scene, but other times, the protagonist might fail and return again, or fail altogether. Although fairytales are obviously a way to engage a wide variety of audiences with their memorable storylines, they also have this important lesson-learning kernel. These lessons are meant to hold a purpose, which may be to warn children of certain things or teach them valuable lessons. These lessons can also teach adults to perhaps think differently about things such as beauty, loyalty, or curiosity. But most of all, these timeless tales are designed to be memorable and transmit information and lessons from one generation to the next. If the tale is memorable, then it is more likely to spread both its entertainment value and its light of lesson learning to many other people for generations to come.