Showing posts from August, 2014

Disney, Fairytales, and Women, Part 6: Snow White

Famed is thy beauty, Majesty. But hold, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee.

Among tales of cannibalism, violent murder, and all manner of unpleasantries, the Grimms brothers' "Schneewittchen," literally "Little Snow White," manages to stand out as a rather gruesome tale. The Disney adaptation, 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is largely pretty bright and happy, though some of the grittiness of the source material made it in. 
The earliest versions of the story feature no stepmother; in the 1810 and 1812 editions, Snow White's own mother grows jealous and fearful of her daughter's growing beauty in contrast to her own waning attractiveness. The prologue including the mother's death and the introduction of the stepmother was added in the 1819 edition in order to preserve the sanctity of the mother figure. Evil stepmothers weren't exactly unheard of; higher mortality rates, particular…

Disney, Fairytales, and Women, Part 5: The Princess and the Frog

There is no way in this whole wide world I would ever, ever, ever, I mean never kiss a frog.

Disney's The Princess and the Frog is loosely based, foremost, on E.D. Baker's The Frog Princess, which in turn is based on the Grimms' story "The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich," known more recently as "The Frog Prince." (For those playing at home, the German title is "Der Froschk√∂nig oder der eiserne Heinrich," which I include because it is really fun to say and I would not keep that from you.) Though the movie is a few steps removed from the Grimms' tale, there are still elements present in the movie that can be traced back to the story.

There are two different routes that "The Frog Prince" stories take with their heroines. Some of them have a strong-willed heroine who at first despises the frog, and the rest have a sweet-natured heroine who submits to the frog's requests without protest. Tiana is derived more from the former type. La…

Disney, Fairytales, and Women, Part 4: Heroines

Um, sorry it's been almost a month since my last post in this series. Part of the reason it took me forever to get this post out was that I wasn't really sure if I wanted to talk about each heroine in her own movie/fairytale post or if I wanted to talk about them all collectively in one post on the character type. I kept writing half a post and then going "nahhhh I'll do it the other way" and rewriting a new one and then changing my mind again over and over. All of which is to say I've decided to do both, so I'll talk a bit today about fairytale heroines in general, and Disney fairytale heroines and the concept we have of them independent from their individual stories. I'll talk more about the characters themselves in the upcoming posts focusing on one movie at a time.

When we think of women and girls in fairytales, we don't often think "heroine" is the term for them. Princesses, sure, victims, almost definitely. The fairytales that prob…