Perplexing Stories: Disney Part 1

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Perplexing Stories: Disney Part 1

Lakshmi Nanda Madhusoodhanan
Monday, March 1, 2021
Perplexing Stories: Disney Part 1

Growing up, we all have watched different types of Animated Disney films from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)’ to the most recent one ‘Frozen II (2019)’. Their heroines, heroes and villains are popular and also one of the most iconic characters in cinematic culture. I used to be fascinated by it so much that I remember watching Snow White repeatedly non-stop when I was a small child.

Disney has always been built around the “happy ever after” ending but what if it was not always a happy conclusion. The original stories, which inspired them, may not be child friendly. So, with advance apologies for tarnishing your childhood movies, here are real stories from which many popular Disney movies originated.

1.Pinocchio

Pinocchio is an American animated musical fantasy drama released in 1940. It is also the 2nd animated feature film produced by Disney. Pinocchio is portrayed as a sweet young wooden puppet carved by the Italian woodcarver named Geppetto and Pinocchio has a big desire to be a real boy. Pinocchio is accompanied by his 100-year-old wise friend, Jiminy Cricket, a talking cricket who often gave advice that helped to be a real human.

Pinocchio is based on the 1883 Italian children’s novel by Carlio Collodi titled ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’. This novel is considered one of the greatest works of Italian Literature. Anyways, the approach of Collodi about Pinocchio is arguably different, as he wanted to highlight to the kids the importance of being good. In the book, Pinocchio was described as cruel and mischievous and he accidentally kills Jiminy Cricket with a hammer when the cricket tried to warn Pinocchio about the consequences of being bad.

Throughout the book, Pinocchio is punished in torturous ways due to his immoral behaviour. The story was supposed to end with Pinocchio’s death by hanging but eventually, Collodi expanded the story further with the fairy giving a second chance to Pinocchio and he becomes a real human after learning his lesson.

2.Cinderella

We all have heard about the widespread story of Cinderella. Cinderella was released by Disney in 1950 based on the fairy-tale written by Charles Perrault with the same name. The sequel to it, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True was released on February 26, 2002. In the sequel, one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters named Anastasia was not evil like shown in the first movie. In fact, Anastasia even had her love interest with a baker, which was discouraged by her mother and her other sister but it was encouraged by Cinderella.

There are different versions of the story of Cinderella.

However, the one written by Brothers Grimm was not so sympathetic. In the Brother Grimm version of Cinderella, the two stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to fit into the shoe given by the prince (one cut the heels, whereas the other one cut the toes). To avoid the prince being fooled, some doves enter the scene to show the prince the blood in the shoe. At the end of the story, the doves peck out the eyes of the stepsisters during Cinderella’s wedding.

3.Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty is one of Disney’s classic tale, which is based on Sleeping Beauty written by Charles Perrault. In the movie, there is a princess; Aurora is put into a deep sleep on her 16th birthday after she is pricked by a spindle as she was cursed by Maleficent. Due to Aurora being in deep sleep, the full kingdom is cursed into sleep, which can be broken only when Aurora’s sleeping curse is broken. As the story progresses, Prince Philip wakes her up from her deep sleep with a kiss, thus breaking the curse.

However, Sleeping Beauty written by Charles Perrault is a retold version of the original ‘Sun, Moon and Talia’ is a 1634 Italian fairy-tale written by Giambattista Basile in his work, the ‘Pentamerone’. The fairy-tale here has somewhat similar beginnings but the middle and the endings are drastically different and too harsh for being a child-friendly fairy-tale. In the story, a king comes for the rescue of Talia instead of a prince. The king’s kiss does not wake her up, on the other hand, mesmerized by her beauty the king ‘gathers the fruits of her love’ as quoted by Basile. After 9 months, Talia gives birth to twins (a girl and a boy) and the girl twin sucks out the splinter from her finger, thus waking her up. The king, who is married and Talia fall in love. His queen who comes to know, issues an order to kidnap and cook the twins with the plan to feed it unknowingly to the king. She also tries to burns Talia alive. Fortunately, the queen fails as the cook hides the kids and cooks two lambs instead. The king getting to know the story orders to throw the queen into the fire. The story ends with the moral; Lucky people, so 'tis said, Are blessed by Fortune whilst in bed (in Old English) which means, he who has luck may go to bed, And bliss will rain upon his head.

Disney movies have always been fun for the whole family. However, the real stories behind it are fascinating. More stories will be uncovered in part 2 of this same article.

Lakshmi Nanda Madhusoodhanan
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