Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flashback

Upon reading my pervious blog posts and reflecting about what I have learned in class, I have relished in a greater appreciation for the Brother's Gimm and their fairy tales.


Rereading these stories, as an older and more educated individual rather than a child, has allowed me to recognize the underlying features, motifs, and morals one can take from these tales. The concept of inner conflict and the symbolization of wolves and other evils as our own inner demons can give us a stronger sense of self and confidence. It is our fears that need to be vanquished in order for us to learn and grow as individuals.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c8/cc/ae/c8ccae54b2be49f4b243f95a112638b9.jpg




Additionally, I have learned that the Zeitgeist is ever important in the appropriation of fairy tales. Whether it's Disney, Perrault, or the Grimms themselves, authors and directors edit, revise, and rewrite fairy tales for the present. These tales are always changing and will continue to do so, but their values and mysticism will continue on as relics.

http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/36200000/Fairy-Tales-disney-princess-36233883-1024-768.jpg

Now looking back into my past blog posts, I can summarize a few key points for you.

1. I believe I have accomplished what it was that I was looking for out of this class. That being "to gain a better understanding of the Grimm's fairy tales, regarding their underlying themes and reflection of German culture."

2. Legends, myths, and fairy tales all share a common ground but they are by no means the same. But one thing to note is that magic lies at the heart of a fairy tales.

3. The characterization in the MGM film portrayal of "Hansel & Gretel" is not reflective of the original tale. However, both display the coming of age story, that focuses on children's need to learn and fend for them selves.

4. We always enjoy rooting for the underdog (a lot of the time because we see ourselves in them) and the story of Cinderella/Aschenputtel is the epitome of the "rags to riches" that we all crave.

5. The film version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is called that for a reason. Mostly because the dwarfs become a focal of the film and Snow White is reduced to a helpless, feeble girl.

6. The "beauty and the beast" motif is present in both the fairy tale of "The Frog King" and the myth of "Cupid and Psyche."

7. Disney's "The Big Bad Wolf," is a fun short film playing off both the Grimm's tale of "Little Red Cap" and the story of "The Three Little Pigs."

8. The tales of "Bluebeard," "The Robber Bridegroom," and "Fitcher's Bird" all hold the commonality almost unheard of in any fairy tale: getting married to a nightmare.

9. Disney's "Tangled" can be seen as an innovation of a common fairy tale and a lesson for todays society, that sheltering children is hindering their growth, happiness, and understanding of the world.

10. I've learned a lot this past semester, and hope to continually see the motifs and joys of the fairy tales (by the Brothers Grimm and others) in my life.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tangled: Death of the Fairy Tale?

Many critics hate on Disney for the industry's appropriation of what are known has cherished, cultural and historical tales. For taking the original fairy tales and turning them into "castrated specters of their former selves." Or so says the author of Tangled and the Death of the Disney Fairy Tale (Elena Nola), who claims that fairy tales are of no use to us now, that "we have outlived their usefulness as parables."

http://questgarden.com/83/69/0/090618135615/images/fairytales.jpg

But I disagree. To the fullest extent. Fairy tales have and always will be an insight into the human existence, a universe in miniature (as Lüthi says), and a cultivation of our fears, hopes, and morality that is transparent both through time and culture.


First things first, if the main complaint is that Disney altered the tales, then you might have some beef with the Brothers Grimm themselves. I can guarantee that between the Grimms' original Ölenberg Manuscript and their 7th and final edition of Kinder und Hausmärchen, there are some glaring differences between plots, characters, and motifs.

But I am not saying this to bash on the Brothers Grimm. I truly believe that they captured a relic of German culture/social reality and made it their own; deservingly labeling themselves in the name of fairy tales, now and forever.

My point however is one simple word... Zeitgeist!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/11/Kinder_und_Hausmärchen_(Grimm)_1840_I_A_001.jpg


Now lets talk about this in reference to "Rapunzel" and "Tangled." Nola claims that "Tangled" was the last straw for Disney. That the film crosses into the hopelessness for society's need for cherished parables and undying motifs, because the only thing left for us to fear is fear itself.



In the original tale of "Rapunzel" by the Brothers Grimm, the story portrays the the full length maturation of a girl. Rapunzel is born and locked in a tower when she turns 12 (a pivotal age in female maturation). She then meets a prince (who she initially is frightened of) and they fall in love. However, after she becomes pregnant, she is  banished to a desolate land. But the happy end holds true once her prince finds her again. Not only does the story follow the line of female maturation, but exemplifies the fact that it cannot be stopped. No tower too tall, no evil too strong; we must all grow up.

Another motif is the value of knowledge and exploration. It is not until Rapunzel gains the knowledge of the outside word that she is happy. When she can finally leave her isolation and begin her life.

http://c8.alamy.com/comp/BHFGR2/literature-fairy-tales-brothers-grimm-rapunzel-illustration-by-walter-BHFGR2.jpg




"Tangled" may have deviated from the original "Rapunzel," but similar motifs hold true; motifs that exemplify societies need for a parable look to the past. The main theme in the film is indeed the fear of fear itself. But is that not worthy of attention?

In today's society there is a parental obsession to shelter children. To lock them in towers, and tell them they're special and need protection from the dangers of the outside world. Tangled shows us that this is wrong. We NEED the knowledge and exploration that comes with growing up. Kids need to get in trouble, go on a dangerous adventure, have their heart broken, and enjoy all the pain and anguish that comes along with it. Because that's what makes you into a strong and accomplished adult. We are robbing kids of their childhood by shunning them into the oblivion of security. But "Tangled" reminds us, through the use of a common story, a cherished relic, a timeless tale, that society needs a blast to the past in order to cherish the future.
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/6194D-hiQtL.jpg

The underlying themes and motifs of the Grimms' fairy tales are universal and though the Zeitgeist is constantly changing, humanities need for their values doesn't.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bluebeard: The Fitcher's Bridegroom

The tales of "The Robber Bridegroom" and "Fitcher's Bird" by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault's "Bluebeard" all fall along the same lines. Each story follows a female protagonist who marries or is soon to marry a man who they each discover to be evil and murderous.

In Perrault's "Bluebeard," the youngest daughter agrees to marry Bluebeard after he throws a grandiose party. After their marriage he leaves on a business trips (very typical), but grants her a ring of keys, one of which opens a room she is forbidden to enter. Despite his warning, her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers the chopped up bodies of Bluebeard's past wives inside the room. Upon this shocking discovery, she drops the golden key that allowed her in and it is permanently stained by their blood. Bluebeard finds out and decides he must kill her, but she begs to have time to pray first. She stalls long enough for her brothers to arrive and kill Bluebeard.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Barbebleue.jpg



The Grimms' "Fitcher's Bird" follows a very similar plot line. However, the girl is given an egg rather than a key. The tale also follows the death of the 2 sisters preceding the protagonist and even has her bring them back to life. In order to save herself and her sisters, she covers herself in honey and feathers so no one can recognize her. She is then able to trick her bridegroom into returning to their home (after making him unknowingly carry her sisters back to her parents) and burn him alive along with their wedding guests. The protagonist in this story is much more active and cunning than those the other two tales.

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/illustrations/bluebeard/images/rackham_fitchersbird1.jpg




The story of "The Robber Bridegroom" doesn't fit the same plot structure as the first two tales. Instead, the protagonist ventures into the woods in search of her prince bridegroom, but is warned of his villainous ways by an old woman. She then hides in the cellar behind a barrel and must listen as the prince returns and kills her grandmother. He cuts off her finger and it lands right in the princesses lap. She is able to escape back home and tells her father of what happened. Instead of simply having her father's men go out and kill the prince immediately the princess decides to play him the fool. He comes to her, inquiring as to why she had not arrived, and she explains her "dream" to him (a retelling of the previous nights occurrences). She then pulls out the finger he had cut off her grandmother and shows him that she knows what he has done. It is only then that her father's guards have the           http://one-elevenbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/robber-bridegroom2.jpg                   prince and the other robbers executed.

My favorite of the 3 tales was "Fitcher's Bird," because I admired how cunning the protagonist was, especially because of the typical passive portrayal of females characters in fairytales. I did not like that Perrault added morals to the end of his story. I think it takes away from the imagination and intuition of the reader. Additionally, the first moral was extremely sexist and offensive. I enjoyed "The Robber Bridegroom," but found it unnecessarily gory. Though many fairy tales fall into the same category.

The biggest difference between these tales and other Grimms' tales is the portrayal of marriage. Instead of the typical happy end, it is the horrible beginning to the protagonists marriage to a nightmare. These 3 stories may have different plots lines, but they all share a common motif.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Disney's "The Big Bad Wolf"

Often when we compare the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm to the adaptation's of Walt Disney we focus on his recreation of the "Disney Princesses" (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella... etc.) But we often forget about those tales involving the common folk, such as that of Rotkäppchen, more widely known as "Little Red Riding Hood."


In 1934, Disney produced a short film called "The Big Bad Wolf" as part of the series Silly Symphony and a sequel to the already existing short film "The Three Little Pigs" (also included in the Silly Symphony series). However, this animated short focuses on the story of "Little Red Riding Hood" with a special appearance by the Three Little Pigs, insinuating that the same wolf was the terrorizer for both tales.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/42/The_Big_Bad_Wolf_1934_Title_Card.jpg


Although I enjoy the combination of the two stories, there are some other alterations, specifically concerning "Little Red Riding Hood."

Disney plays on the fact that "Little Red Riding Hood" is originally a fairytale, by having the wolf dress up as a magical forest-fairy (by the name of Goldilocks) in order to trick Red and 2 of the pigs. In the original tale, the wolf simply walks up to Red and talks to her, giving her a greater sense of naivety and influencing the motif of the tale (which I will address later). https://animationreview.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/the-big-bad-wolf-c2a9-walt-disney.jpg 
The "Big Bad Wolf" is also less gruesome than the Grimms' original "Little Red Riding Hood." Neither Red or her Grandmother are eaten by the wolf, and therefore the huntsman has no need to cut them out of the wolf's stomach. There actually is no huntsman character in the animated short, but the one pig takes over his role as the hero. Instead of killing the wolf, the pig fills his pants with hot coals and popcorn, leading the wolf to quickly flee the grandmother's house.

https://yensiditesunite.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/the-big-bad-wolf.jpg

Lastly, the motif of the story is changed. 

In the original tale, the moral of the story is to teach children (especially young girls) not to trust strangers. They should not stray from the path and tell a stranger where they are going, or live. 
Charles Perrault adds this motif in the form of a separate moral at the end of his version of "Little Red Riding Hood."

However, Disney changes this moral, and adds it in the form of a song at the end of the story. Red, her grandmother, and the 3 pigs gather around the piano, singing and playing music. The song they sing is call "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" and posses the argument that he's a "sissy." This no longer enforces the same motif. Instead children are taught that only wimps are afraid, because there is nothing to be afraid of. http://i.ytimg.com/vi/GRnqMgkHIEo/hqdefault.jpg
Although there were striking changes made to the Disney short that devolved it from the original "Little Red Riding Hood" by the Brothers Grimm, I enjoyed "The Big Bad Wolf." I liked the combination of the two stories and the humor of the animation. It also reminded me of watching Disney's "The Three Little Pigs" as a child. In the same sense, both Grimm and Disney give fairytales the capability of reviving nostalgia in us all. 





Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cupid and Psyche vs The Frog King

As we all know, stories (whether they be tales, myths, or legends) are contaminated, appropriated and changed to appeal to and entertain a certain audience.

The Greek myth of "Cupid and Psyche" obviously came before the Grimms' "Frog King." As a myth, the story of "Cupid and Psyche" is meant to entertain and reaffirm the power of the gods in a way that is perceived as a true event. "The Frog King," however, is written not as a truth, but to entertain and instill a motifs.

http://uploads6.wikiart.org/images/                                                    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/GmimmTheFrogPrince.gif
john-roddam-spencer-stanhope/cupid-and-psyche.jpg


Although "Cupid and Psyche" and "The Frog King" are extremely different, there are some similarities between them.

The first similarity is in the first paragraph of both tales. Both introductions revolve around the youngest daughter who is beyond beautiful and adored by all.  

"In olden times, when wishing still did some good, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, who, indeed, has seen so much, marveled every time it shone upon her face." - The Brothers Grimm (ed 3)

"A certain king and queen had three daughters. The charms of the two elder were more than common, but the beauty of the youngest was so wonderful that the poverty of language is unable to express its due praise. The fame of her beauty was so great that strangers from neighboring countries came in crowds to enjoy the sight, and looked on her with amazement, paying her that homage which is due only to Venus herself." - Lucius Apuleius

The biggest similarity between the stories is that both tales hold true to the Beauty and the Beast motif. 

Not only are Psyche and the Grimms' princess companions to beasts (the unknown figure of Cupid and a frog), but both tales exemplify the beasts within the princesses themselves. This is shown in "Cupid and Psyche" when Psyche looks upon her husband for the first time, wielding a knife, prepared to kill him if he turns out to be the gruesome monster her sisters foreboded. Consequently, in "The Frog King," the princess shows her beastly side as she angrily throws the frog against the wall, in hopes of killing him. 
http://www.audienceseverywhere.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/belle-beast-angry.jpg


That's about where the similarities end. 

"Cupid and Psyche," being a Greek myth simply has more: more elaborate detail, more characters (as many of the gods fill their own part), and a much more complex plot structure. The plot of the stories themselves are completely different (and I'm not going into the entirety of that detail). 

A specific difference (worth making note of) is the relationships between Psyche and Cupid vs that of the princess and the frog. 

Although Psyche is initially fearful, crying at the top of the mountain waiting for her future husband, her mindset is immediately reversed upon receiving the benefits of her new lifestyle. These feelings then transpose to her unseen husband, whom she truly loves.

                                                                                         http://data.whicdn.com/images/62213524/large.jpg


The princess in "The Frog King" has a much different relationship with the frog. From the very beginning of the story she is repulsed by him, calling him "nasty," and this continues throughout the story. She abandons the frog after he retrieves her golden ball and later tries to kill him by throwing him against a wall. It is not until he transforms into a human that the princess begins her adoration for him.

http://usercontent2.hubimg.com/10231507_f260.jpg


As you can see these stories are quite different, but they hold a common base.

Bottom line: Whether it's "Cupid and Psyche," "The Frog King," or even Disney's movie "The Princess and the Frog," stories have been and always will be appropriated in one way or another.

http://www.popcritics.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/07/princess_frog_header.jpg




Saturday, September 26, 2015

Little Snow White (and the Seven Dwarfs)/Schneewittchen

To what extent does Disney have a monopoly on the fairy tale industry? Is it fair to say that many would assume that Disney's portrayals are the "original tales" rather than the Grimm's? It might not be fair, but it is quite likely that if I'd mention Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty, an image similar to this would pop into your head.

http://luigitoto.altervista.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/disney-disney-princesses.jpg

Disney is not the only one who contaminated fairy tales. But what makes his films different?

It is my opinion, that the Zeitgeist is the ultimate catalyst for fairy tale appropriation. More specifically, with the tale of Snow White.

We will be discussing 2 films pertaining to this subject matter (both of which are based on the Grimm's original "Little Snow White" (1812):
Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and East German DEFA's "Schneewittchen" (1961).


http://blog.disneystore.com/.a/6a013481198
b41970c017ee6b1cf55970d-
          
 http://images3.cinema.de/imedia/6471/2076471,                                             z9i+DMgLLiI3MjiMYWm+Q+lPAFA9Nsyho5J
          HrlPP793GkOZdJRrD72v9gRoXUM417PBUzg
                                          SVbNlEh_krNPFsVw==.jpg

The most noteworthy modification that Disney employed was changing the film's center of attention (stressing the animation over the story).  Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is first and foremost a love story. Snow White meets the prince in the very beginning of the film, unlike in the original tale when they meet after she "wakes up" from being poisoned (without a kiss I might add).

Furthermore, the seven dwarfs are no longer simply a function of the tale, they are integral characters. They have names, personalities, and are even addressed in the film's title!

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/39/97/c7/3997c72e9e7be826b049a2f2fe8f8347.jpg

This draws more attention to the dwarfs and their underlying theme. The dwarfs portray workers, more specifically happy workers. Disney's film was produced during the Great Depression and for this reason the film exemplifies motifs of love, magic, and the joys of working.

Disney used his film to entertain as well as educate. The whimsicality of the film (centering the story on young love, turning the queen into a magical witch, and characterizing the jolly/diligent dwarfs) distracts the audience from their current misfortunes while bringing the hope of a brighter future through the prospects of hard work and goodness.

http://teal-blog.s3.amazonaws.com/2013/10/snow-white-the-prince-disney-princess-19089827-1024-768.jpg

The symbolic notion of the dwarfs in Disney's film is also presented in DEFA's "Schneewitchen," though for different reasoning. The implication of hard work is still prominent, but in reference to doing one's duty rather than self advancement. This directly correlates with the ideologies of socialist East Germany.

http://defa-vdb.deutsche-kinemathek.de/dl/movies/1022421/10/5213-slim.jpg

The concept of camaraderie is also demonstrated in "Schneewittchen." Snow White addresses the dwarfs as du rather than the formal Sie. Woman are seen more as equals than in the Grimm's tale and Disney's rendition. The mirror (der Spiegel), which is a masculine noun in German and possess a male voice in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," is instead given a female voice; insinuating that females do not need to seek the approval of men. 

http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110801120956/disney/images/f/f9/Snowwhite-disneyscreencaps.com-100.jpg

Disney's Snow White is also illustrated as frightened and helpless, particularly when running through the forests after being sent away by the huntsman. Schneewittchen, however, is excited to explore the forest and cheerfully parades through the trees, petting animals and singing.

That being said, all three Snow White's are extremely passive and acutely epitomize a typical Hausfrau. 


The Grimm's original tale is better represented by DEFA's "Schneewittchen" (as far as plot/content), but Disney (though sexist and incongruous with the original) holds an ever-present place in audiences hearts. Furthering their own monopoly on the Grimm's works.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cinderella (Aschenputtel)

"Rags to Riches" stories are not unfamiliar to us. It is quite the commonality to root for the underdog! We do it all the time in sports, movies, television shows, and yes, even fairy tales. We find ourselves rooting for the underdog, because we identify with them, hoping for our own personal triumphs and the optimistic ascent to fame and fortune. 

http://data.whicdn.com/images/81077793/large.jpg

The so-called "American Dream" is a quintessential example of the "rags to riches" motif. This ideology is implemented throughout American history: during the California Gold Rush in the mid 1800's, the influx of immigration between 1880-1920, and the hope of joy to come in spite of the disparity of the Great Depression in the 1930's (at which time the phrase was coined by a James Truslow Adams, in his book The Epic of America.)

http://straightpathdesigns.com/websitedesign/websitedesign-goldrush.jpg

We crave justice through the rise of a hero/heroine. It is their rise, however, that can create controversy. How is it that they achieved their success? By their own intellect and determination, cheating others, someone else’s rescue, or maybe the grandeur of magic!

Cinderella is THE "rags to riches" fairy tale.

The original German notation, Aschenputtel, better exemplifies the literal rock bottom that Cinderella was living in, constantly covered in ashes and dirt. However the ashes and lentils in the story foreshadow the splendor that is to come. For out of the death of the ashes we see the growth of life and prosperity within the lentils; a diamond in the ruff, if you will. 


http://sites.psu.edu/cosgrovercl1415/wp-content/uploads/sites/15394/2015/01/cinderella.jpg

It is in my opinion that magic is the dominant means by which Cinderella achieved her acclaimed rise. 

Some may argue that it is the prince who should be praised for saving Cinderella from her retched servant's life and replacing it with one of royalty and opulence. If you ask me, I'd say he's is pretty shallow. The prince would not have even noticed Cinderella if it were not for the magic indirectly granted to her by her dead mother. He only gave initial interest in Cinderella because he assumed she was a princess.
    ~ "When the prince saw the carriage come to a halt before the gate, he thought that a strange princess from afar had come traveling to the ball. So he himself went down the stairs, helped cinderella out of the carriage and led her into the ballroom" 

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/disney/images/1/13/Cinderella's_Carriage.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120428165437
       
Furthermore, the prince does not recognize Cinderella after the ball! He even takes her stepsister all the way to the castle gates before he realizes (only after the birds encourage him too look at the girl's bloody foot) that she is not his true bride. 


Needless to say, without magic there is no story. Cinderella wouldn't get help from the birds to finish her chores, leaving her unable to go to the ball with her horse drawn carriage, beautiful dress and golden shoes, making it impossible for her to meet the prince and get married. No magic, no fairy tale, no princess. 

It is possible to to go from rags to riches without magic or marriage. People who use their cunning and commit to working hard are capable of doing so. But in my opinion, this does not hold true for Cinderella.  


Grimm, William, and Jakob Grimm. "Cinderella." The Original Folk and Fairy Tales 
     of the Brothers Grimm. Ed. Jack Zipes. Prinston & Oxford: Prinston 
     University, 2014. 69-72. Print. 

"James Truslow Adams Papers, 1918-1949. ." James Truslow Adams Papers, 1918-1949. . Web. 17 Sept. 2015.



Friday, September 11, 2015

Hänsel & Gretel

As we all know from watching movies, the film is always different from the book. Take the Harry Potter series for example. Generally, the films do a pretty good job of recreating the treasured stories, but there are inconsistencies. Harry Potter books are relatively long and therefore all of the details cannot be portrayed in the films. Characters are expunged, scenes are deleted, and emotional perceptions are left untold. However, Hollywood is always looking to make movies bigger and better (aka more dramatic and action-packed). Therefore scenes such as the Weasley's house erupting into flames during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are added into the films, even if they never occurred in the books.

http://i2.wp.com/www.tor.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/HP-goblet.gif?fit=500%2C%209999&crop=0%2C0%2C100%2C398px

Nonetheless, the same principal applies to the Grimm's tale, Hänsel and Gretel, and the 1987 MGM movie adaptation.


The biggest and most influential discrepancy (in my opinion) is CHARACTERIZATION. Which inevitably leads to the deterioration of the tales underlying themes.

In the Grimm's tale, the mother is depicted as an embodiment of evil. Zipes even mentions in his article "The Rationalization of Abandonment and Abuse in Fairy Tales: The Case of Hansel and Gretel," that the demeanor of the mother and the witch are interchangeable. Both characters even die at the end (though the mother doesn't in the film).

The mother in the film is not as evil and cold-hearted as she is described in the original tale. Sure she is vindictive and makes some utterly cruel comments to and about her children, but she very obviously loves them. When she realizes the children are missing she is truly heartbroken and blames herself. The mother does not purposely abandon Hansel and Gretel, but momentarily sends them away, unaware that they would venture deep into the forest to be captured by a witch. The false characterization of the mother completely diminishes the theme of abandonment displayed in the story.
http://www.childstarlets.com/captures/videocaps/nstapleton/hansel/nshansel036.jpg


One of the morals to be taken from the Grimm's tale is the knowledge that having faith in God will help you overcome evil. The children are essential in the implementation of this theme. However in the MGM film, the father is the only character vocalizing the need to trust God during their time of hardship. Fairy tales are written in such a way for children to accept the social structures of the time (Zeitgeist), which Rüdiger Steinlein refers to as "domestication of the imagination." This element of the story is eliminated in the film, due to the fact that Hansel and Gretel are not exemplifying that their own "goodness" and Christian faith is what overcomes the witch.

http://41.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lutmwzSTPi1r6embzo1_500.jpg











Many people argue that the tale of Hansel & Gretel is exhibited as a coming of age story. The children must learn to fend for themselves, grow up, and use their brains to get out of harms way (without the help of their parents). The pinnacle scene on which this theme lays is when Gretel uses her quick wit to con the witch and push her into the burning oven.

The MGM film uses charm and magic instead of the children's cunning to kill the witch. Although Hansel still uses the chicken bone to trick the witch into prolonging the time before she eats him, but Gretel's power is ultimately usurped. Instead of using her own intelligence, Gretel grabs the witch's staff and performs her own spell in order to kill her.

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/efyLnijCvEI/hqdefault.jpg

There are other small variations such as: the children only going out to the forest once, the witch's house being made of gingerbread, the father searching for the kids, Hansel and Gretel not taking jewels from the witch's house, and the addition of other children being saved.

The film does follow the original plot closely (though scenes were added to lengthen the story). But I would argue that the archetypes that make this fairy tale a classic were ignored.

The directors edited the tale in order to maximize their audience. By creating a family friendly movie, filled with songs and light-hearted attitudes, viewers are able to overlook the dark, underlying themes and simply enjoy a good story.

Zipes, Jack. "The Rationalization of Abandonment and Abuse in Fairy Tales: 
     The Case of Hansel and Gretel." Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales, Children, 
     and the Cultural Industry. New York and London: Routledge, 1997. 39-60. 
     Print.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Nature of Fairy Tales

We've all heard the term fairy-tale (auf Deutsch, Märchen), but do we really know what it means? What is the significance? And how can we distinguish fairytales from other stories?

As a starting point let me just say that at the heart of every fairy-tale there are 2 things:

1. The plot
2. Magic

                             http://www.coroflot.com/lauraadkins/The-National-Exchange-Club

But before we can understand what a fairy-tale is we need to know what a fairy-tale isn't... 

Myths
Myths do not have magic. Sure there are supernatural elements, but those involve the power of the gods, not magic. Myths are also believed to be true.  The myths of ancient Greek and Roman gods are mystifying to their followers and instill the ideology of gods holding immense power over mankind. 


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Legends
The word legend comes from the Latin legenda, meaning "that which is to be read." This is in contrast to fairy-tales which were passed on as an oral tradition. Legends also deal with ordinary people who eventually experience some sort of extraordinary event. 

Now there are a few types of legends, including local and saint legends.

Saint legends aren't quite as specific on the setting of their stories. This is due to the fact that their purpose is to reaffirm people's faith in Christianity. This can be compared to the purpose of a myth, however these legends deal with ordinary people instead of gods. 


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Local legends (of course) deal with locality; naming a specific town or city, as well as a time or year of occurrence.


The concept of time, however, does not exist in fairy-tales. Tales often begin with the phrase, "Once upon a time" or "Es war einmal." This saying does not indicate a time (or year) in which the event occurred. An example of fairy-tale's ignorance of the rationality of time is present in the story of "The Brier Rose" or "Sleeping Beauty." It is said that the princess is asleep in a tower for 100 years, yet she possesses the same amount of youth and beauty when she awakens.


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The magic in fairy-tales is seen as a normal occurrence (talking animals, curses and spells), but is used solely to move the story along its course. Fairy-tales do not have eloquent descriptions. The actions of the characters are used to describe the story. As listeners/readers we are to use our imaginations to picture the actions taking place.

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Lüthi, Max. "The Dragon Slayer: The Style of the Fairy Tale." Once upon a Time: 
     On the Nature of Fairy Tales. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1976. 47-57. 
     Print. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Introduction

I chose the FYS, From Grimm to Disney, because I am fascinated by German history and culture. As Jack Zipes explains in his book, The Brothers Grimm, the uncovering of Naturpoesie can bring enlightenment to the "natural essence" of ancient Germanic culture and literature. Naturpoesie focuses on das Ganze or das Volk, as it was spoken and passed down by and for the people.

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I have always loved Disney movies (as most children do). The sense of whimsy and optimism paired with catchy music makes for quite the trifecta. Unfortunately (or fortunately), many people do not know the true stories behind all the amazement Disney provides.

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This semester I hope to gain a better understanding of the Grimm's fairy tales, regarding their underlying themes and reflection of German culture. Many selections of literature offer subtle, controversial interpretations. Additionally, I would like to delve into the adaptations instituted by Disney to create a child friendly fairy tale. When one discovers the true intention or story behind the quaint Disney films, it can be quite a shock.

As a German student I have had the pleasure (I use the term pleasure lightly) of reading some excerpts from Struwwelpeter. As far as expectations for the content of the Grimm's fairy tales goes, I assume they will fall along the same gothic lines.

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My favorite fairy tale is Little Red Riding Hood, because it was the first fairy tale I had ever been told. However, I was told this story as a child and therefore it was censored (to a certain extent). I'm not entirely sure which events correspond to the original version, if I'm being completely honest. I suppose it's a good thing I'm taking this class then.

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Zipes, Jack. "The Origin and Reception of the Tales." The Brothers Grimm: From 
     Enchanted Forests to the Modern World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 
     25-64. Print.