Friday, April 08, 2011
FROM SCARY TALES TO FAIRY TALES
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Once upon a time, there was a Little Mermaid who fell in love with a prince after saving his life. But if you’re thinking the prince loved her back, she became human and they lived happily ever after in a fairyland where unicorns breathe clouds of cotton candy, you’ve fallen hook, line and sinker for the romanticized version of this story.
While watching the 1989 Disney blockbuster with my nine-year-old niece, I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth according to Hans Christian Andersen: “Happily ever after” only happens for the prince – that cad – who marries a princess while the Little Mermaid and her stomped-on heart float away to spend eternity as a blob of sea foam.
Disney movies occasionally show the darker side of the tales upon which the films are based (e.g., the death of Bambi’s mother), but for the most part, the end results bear little resemblance to the originals. After researching some of the stories that spawned the sanitized silver screen adaptations, I decided this is one instance when ignorance really IS bliss. A comparative look at the original and Disney-fied versions of two more tales will convince you to keep those kiddies naïve, Mom and Dad, unless you’re ready for months of sleepless nights and a huge therapy bill.
According to Disney: A little wooden boy goes through trials and tribulations (including, of course, lying-induced nose extension), and learns valuable life lessons along the way to becoming a real boy. He and beloved father/creator Geppetto live happily ever after.
Originally: Carlo Callodi’s ending found Pinocchio hanged from a tree (which may or may not have been his father; DNA results from Maury Povich are pending). Depending on which version you read, Puppetboy is turned into a donkey, tossed into the sea, devoured by a school of ravenous fish, and/or gets his feet burned off. To put it mildly, the kid’s life is one bummer after another.
According to Disney: Though Bambi loses his mother, he goes on to become a stud who offs a rival buck and a pack of hunting dogs, lands a hottie named Faline, and becomes the new prince of the forest, as well as the proud father of twins.
Originally: In Felix Salten’s novel, not only is Bambi traumatized by his mother’s death, he seems to be a death magnet for small woodland creatures. His squirrel buddy (whom Disney changed to Thumper the rabbit) gets shot and dies. Bambi then befriends another squirrel … who also gets shot and dies. The moral of the story: If you’re a squirrel with a friend named Bambi, keep your life insurance policy current.
I won’t even get into the truth about “Rapunzel” (hint: It’s a weave). Kinda makes you long for the simpler days when the worst thing that happened to a fairytale kid was being kidnapped, force-fed and almost cooked by a witch.