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 Rotk├Ąppchen, 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.

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). 
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.

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.
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. 

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