Sunday, May 1, 2011

"There Was An Apple"

"Before A Magic Lamp Yielded Its Power."
"Before An Enchanted Rose Cast Its Spell."
"Before A Glass Slipper Revealed Its Magic."

"There Was An Apple."
"A Magic Wishing Apple."

As well as a few other little details that escaped the Disney movie, but that is for another night.  Tonight is dedicated to the first full length animated picture.  "The one that started it all," Walt Disney's Snow White.  First released on February 4, 1937, Disney's greatest classic is still one of the most beloved films.  Sadly, it has just returned to the Disney Vault, and as of April 30, 2011, it is no longer available to buy, and soon it will become hard to rent as well.

What makes a young princess, seven dwarfs, a wicked stepmother, and a handsome prince so attractive?  Is it the music?  The animation?  Or the story itself that twists its way around our hearts to stay forever?  I have to admit that as a child this was my LEAST favorite Disney princess.  What with the high childish bell like voice I never really liked the movie.  However, after revisiting the movie as a teenager of 15-16, I fell in love.  The magic of the movie washed over me and held me captive.  Snow White jumped to my second favorite princess right after Belle and right before Ariel.  But why?

Snow White is the tale of a young princess who is forced to escape with only her life because of the jealousy of her stepmother.  While out lost in the woods, she meets animal friends and comes across a small cottage where she meets the Seven Dwarfs.  Through a series of misfortunes, she falls into a deep slumber and is only awakened by the kiss of her Prince Charming (who is truly nameless).

I don't think it's the plot that makes this story.  Although the idea is sweet it simply lacks the marvelous development that so many other Disney movies have.  I summed the plot up in three short sentences.  So what is it that makes Snow White one of Disney's most beloved classics.  First, the animation is brilliant.  Hand-drawn characters come to life on screen in a mixture of reality and fantasy.  Whereas Snow White might be a real person only outlined, the Dwarfs could never be mistaken for "real" people.  They are cartoons.  This also applies to the animals.  Yet, blended together the two are harmonious.  I'm no judge of art, but I like this style Disney adopted.  The art seems to say that reality and fantasy can meet if you just believe.  And for me at least, this is an idea that I cherish.  Secondly, I think the music and voices of the characters bring the film to life.  Though some may find Snow White's voice annoying (I've been there), she has this soft childish tinkle that never goes away.  The Dwarfs voices are perfect for their personalities.  The songs they sing are lively and fun, and easily catch on.  I often find one of Snow White's songs running through my head.  "Whistle While You Work," "Someday My Prince Will Come," and "Heigh-Ho" are just a few that come to mind.  The movie is a masterpiece.

However, many people are against the creative genius of Disney, and I think that's what I most want to address with this blog.  As I pointed out in "A Search that Lead to a Discovery," fairytales have been changing throughout time.  Disney was not the first to recreate these folktales nor will he be the last.  Though there are missing twists, the story line is essentially the same.  The summary I wrote earlier works for either the fairytale or the movie.  Disney merely recreates the plot into what he envisions to be the story of Snow White.  Throughout this week, I will post on different tales that are Snow White fairytales to show how they are the same and different.  Disney is merely the last Grimm Brother, for they too recreated the stories from what they were into what they wrote.  No author really wants to write what is dictated to him.  He wants to explore and expound, develop and create.   Disney did the exact same thing.

So why is Snow White still around?  It is a magical tale that we can relate to in our time.  Like many before him, Disney recreated the tale into something our generation can enjoy.  He created a work of literature and art that will last for years to come.  People still flock to the store in order to grab their copy of this movie so that they can share these precious memories with their children, and those brave enough to buy it without the excuse of having kids will enjoy the movie for what it is: A treasure that stretches across time.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


When the Grimm brothers first copied down their fairytales, the version were much darker than the version we have today.  Witches and stepmothers were non-existent in the originals, instead faeries and mothers played the darker roles in fairytales, sometimes fathers also played the "bad guy" but rarely.  It was mainly the mother or faerie.  This idea is foreign to most people.  It's hard to imagine Snow White's mother as an evil sadistic queen willing to kill her own daughter so that she can remain "the fairest in the land."  And the witches in Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel were little more than devilish faeries.
Before the Disney generation, and even before the Grimm generation, fairytales were much darker than they are today.  Though witches and wicked stepmothers and stepsisters are still prevalent, we no longer see the wicked stepsisters having their feet cut to pieces, turning to stone, or being killed off.  Mothers do not have to dance until they die of exhaustion, and the more violent scenes of the witches deaths were excerpted from the tales. Fairytales became the softer more "happily ever after" versions we are familiar with when the Grimm brothers wrote down the fairytales.  Mothers no longer wanted their children to read the darker stories, and therefore, the Grimm brothers went back and revised to comply with the peoples' wishes.  Of course, Disney has only drilled this idea in our heads, and fairytales have pretty much lost the dark side that they were originally given.  Instead of being adult stories, fairytales are now considered children's stories.

I hope to give enough background information to help everyone understand where my posts will come from.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Search that Lead to a Discovery

I wasn't going to write a blog tonight, but after rediscovering a fairytale I read back when I was in high school, I felt I had to share!  I could remember little more about the tale than that the boy had golden hair because he stuck it in a pond and somehow got stuck in a wood with a wild man.  I went to my favorite fairytale site and determined to read every fairytale until I found the one I was looking for.  But without a title, I had little to go on.  I vaguely remembered that the Grimm brothers had written a version of the tale and went to my Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales book in hopes of finding the fairytale.  However, the titles ran together, and I still didn't have my story. 
 I went back to Folktexts, my fairytale site, and began to read again.  While reading I happened upon a fairytale called "The Blue Light."   I was thrilled to discover a European version of Aladdin, not that I don't love the Arabic version.  Although there wasn't a Genii, there was a magical dwarf, a princess, a witch, and a mean king (there's really no better way to describe him).  After reading the tale, I simply fell in love.  The two versions, published in 1815 and 1857, told the story of a knight who was exiled by the king because he was either too old or wounded.  He comes across a witch and after a series of tasks goes into a dark well to get a blue light for her.  (Sound familiar, think Disney's version of the Cave of Wonders.)  In the end, he tricks the witch out of the light, goes back to the kingdom, and through a series of smiles and misfortunes he receives the king's daughter as his wife.  I have purposely left out much of the tale because it simply must be read.  I have a link to Folktexts on this blog so that anyone can have quick access to the tales.  It's under B and named "The Blue Light."  There are also several others tales of the same type listed with this tale. 
 It's amazing how fairytales come from all over the place, yet still the plots can be linked back to one master story.  This is probably why I am so intrigued by the stories. Anyway, so I continued my search for the "untitled fairytale" and finally thought to myself "Why not just check and see if you saved it?" So I did, and I found it listed under "Iron Hans"; however, since my book calls it "Iron John," I will use that title instead.  I reread the tale and to my disappointment (or maybe "The Blue Light" was just too good) I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the time before.  I remembered the story differently and had a preconceived notion of what the tale was supposed to be.
 Now to make my point, because I do have one.  "The Blue Light" is a variation of Aladdin, a tale most everyone is familiar with.  Somehow, someway, it changed throughout history into the different versions that are accessible today and the others that are not still accessible.  When I went back and reread "Iron John," I had an expectation for the story. Because I couldn't remember it, my mind created a new story that it enjoyed so much more, so now when I tell the story of "Iron John," I will add my own renditions to the story, and that is how fairytales are created and changed.
 This is highly important because it is what the Grimm brothers did, and what Walt Disney did.  Even the original storytellers changed and tweeked the stories to their own liking.  Will we ever know the original?  Probably not, but we can enjoy the stories that have been passed down and adapted to our day and age, and I wonder when the next generation of Grimm and Disney will come around to recreate these fairytales once again into something new and exciting that a new generation can relate too. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

About From Neverland to Infinity

As a dedicated fan of Disney and a lover of Fairytales, I decided it was time to make a blog about what I love most.  I will mainly blog on Disney films and their corresponding fairytales.  However, when I read an interesting book that relates to this blog or watch an interesting movie that I think fits with the topic, I will post a blog on it.  So that my rating system will be easy to follow, I will hold everything up to the same standards.  Movies will be required to have themes, great animation (hand drawn or computer animated), compelling music, believable acting, and an emotional response.  I feel that these are the key things that make a movie either a great work of art or just a form of entertainment.  Books I will judge more harshly as I am an English major.  They will be required to have themes, skilled writing techniques, interesting plots (since this will mainly be formula fiction with the plots already set in place, the plots must catch the reader by surprise or be extremely interesting), developed characters, believable settings, and since we're dealing with fantasy, the mythology must be either well-researched or well-created, in short it must be believable.  I'm not a great judge of music, but I will judge that based on what I like.  These will mainly be Disney songs and things along that line.  Also, because this blog is rating some movies and stories that are considered "for children," I will rate how child friendly everything is.  As times have changed, I will also link everything back to original meanings and how those meanings have changed for us today.  I will try to thoroughly explore all themes in the works so that I can address everyone's concerns.

Posts will be made about once a week.

I hope that everyone enjoys this blog.  I have a real passion for fairytales and anything romantic, and I would like to share that passion with the world.