Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fifth Post-September 27, 2014

Compare the original tale by the Brothers Grimm with Disney’s film from 1937. Highlight a few differences and similarities. Why did Disney divert from the original version of the tale? What were the reasons? Consider the time when the film was made and also Walt Disney's own story.

The 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs includes a major element that the 1812 Grimm tale does not, the element of music and singing.  Music intensifies a situation and adds more drama than if the scene did not have music. Think of the shower scene from the movie Psycho. That screechy violin track is famous because it adds so much suspense to the scene. Now imagine that without music. 

The music in Snow White is iconic in the same way. Everyone knows the dwarfs’ song that they sing on the way to and from work. Without music the film would be less engaging and boring to watch.  The dwarfs themselves add another layer to the Disney film that the Grimm tale lacks. In the original tale the dwarfs are unnamed and act in unison, there is no difference between the first and the seventh. In the Disney film, each dwarf has a name, a different outfit, and a unique personality. Doc, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, and Dopey are more memorable than the Prince in the film, who only appears in the beginning and final scenes. The dwarfs drive the plot forward and act as Snow White’s guardians, trying to protect her from the evil Queen. 

Walt Disney also used the film as an opportunity to showcase his greatness. He refused to give credit to his fellow animators and if he had to acknowledge them, they were in smaller negligible print while his name was on the first still in large letters-“WALT DISNEY”. He often changed and manipulated the tales to fit his message and agenda, discarding the original. Animation was viewed as the sole focus of the film, to showcase Disney’s impeccable talent. The actual plot came second. To Disney, these films were not about bringing the magic to everyone, he had an ulterior motive to get the audience to see how wonderful and talented he is.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fourth Post-September 20th, 2014

Cinderella is one of these so called “rise tales”, which features a narrative arc of “rags to riches through magic and marriage” (Ruth Bottigheimer). Write a reflection on this motif. Can someone reach success or riches with magic or marriage? How realistic is that?
I do not think that the “rags to riches” idea can be properly executed in real life. Cinderella is a poor girl whose dreams become satisfied by a fairy godmother’s wish-granting ability.  Unfortunately, the world is not full of fairy godmothers with their wands at the ready to make dreams come true. If I want my dreams to come true, I have to be my own fairy godmother. If I want to become the world’s greatest neurosurgeon, I would need to study everything I could get my hands on, practice, and get into the best medical school in the country. Once there, I’d need to secure a good position by beating out my colleagues and being the best. That is not going to happen if I am sitting waiting for people to bring success to me. I would need to put forth the effort to get the results I desire. That is how it worked for Dr. Ben Carson, who was raised primarily by his mother in Michigan and worked diligently and with great dedication to become the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins at the head. He did not just say “I wish for the twins to be separated” and it happened. He planned, strategized, and put time and effort into the 22 hour surgery. 
One could possibly achieve more if they “married up” or wed a spouse who had connections to help that person achieve their dreams.  If someone is extremely motivated, they will do everything they can to achieve their dreams. Princess Diana is a real-life example of a princess story. She married Prince Charles, but before then, she was a regular person who worked as a preschool assistant and nanny. She would not have had the public exposure she did or be able to help as many people without being associated with Prince Charles and the royal family. Her fairy tale came true but not without tremendous scrutiny under the public eye. What you envision as a happily ever after might not be the case. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Third Post-September 12, 2014


Compare the original Grimm tale with the MGM version. What is different in the film? What is similar? Why did the movie directors make these changes?

The Grimm brother’s fairy tale is similar to the film in many ways. The biggest similarity is the basic plot. The children are sent into the forest by their evil mother, much to the dismay of the children’s father. Hansel attempts to mark the pathway with pebbles and breadcrumbs, and the latter are eaten by birds. They come across a gingerbread house and are enchanted by the amount of food before them. The house is owned by a witch, who tries to fatten Hansel up so she can eat him, while making Gretel cook for her. The children outwit the witch, and Gretel pushes her in the oven. The siblings escape, and are rewarded for their cunning with jewels and gold coins. Reunited with their father, the family can live happily ever after.
There are significant deviations from the tale as well. The mother is originally loving towards her children, it is not until they let the donkey loose and it makes a mess that the mother starts to deeply consider sending her kids away. When Hansel and Gretel arrive at the gingerbread house, the walkway is lined with gingerbread figurines. The children are filled with such awe and are so enchanted by the amount of food before them. This reminded me of the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Gene Wilder sings “Pure Imagination”.  Towards the end of the film, it is revealed that those gingerbread figurines are actually children, victims of the witch that have been saved by Hansel and Gretel. 

Hansel and Gretel’s time in the house was elaborated on and expanded to show the hard work and effort the children went through. We see Gretel making many different and complex pastries, and Hansel being forced to eat them. Another element in the film that was added is the witch’s magnifying glass, which Gretel tricks the witch into smashing. This was not included in the original Grimm version, but was added to enhance the conflict between the siblings and the witch.

The most significant change between the Grimm tale and the film is the addition of song. There are at least three instances where song and/or dance is included. This adds a hook for younger audiences and draws them in to the film, it also adds a break from the tense scenes in the film that are often darker. The songs briefly lighten the mood and provide transition between scenes. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Second Post-September 5th, 2014

Develop a working definition of a fairy tale based on class discussions, stories and other articles we have read in class.

MÓ“rchen is the German word for fairy tale. Fairy tales are fictional narratives of magic (zauber) and fantasy. Fairy tales can originate from one place, or can come from many places simultaneously. For example, many cultures have a flood story; in Christianity it is Noah’s Ark, and in Mesopotamia it is the legend of Gilgamesh. These tales also contain archetypes, which are stock characters that all cultures share (the villain, the nurturing mother, etc.)

Fairy tales usually start out with the words “Once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after”. In between those phrases, a lot of action takes place. A hero is introduced, and promptly does something they should not do. There is a lot of repetition in tales as well (Goldilocks’ eating different porridges, for example).  Often there is a villain or conflict to make the story exciting and to add depth.  Finally, the conflict is resolved, and the main character comes home a hero to live happily ever after, returning with a lesson or moral they have learned while on their adventure.