This musical is, on the one hand, a modern interpretation of the fairy tale in a different genre than its original creation. On the other hand, Into the Woods can also be called a modern day oral tradition. Oral tales with as much fervor and imagery as fairy tales probably demanded theatricality from the storyteller. I think that this play addresses a lot of interesting aspects concerning fairy tale structure. Firstly, just the setting of the interactions of characters—its always someone running into someone else in the woods. There are tons of chance encounters and run-ins, but even when the characters are at home, they all share a split stage. I think that this constant saturation of characters and disjointed scene structure comments on the inability to effectively mash these stories into one cultural context. According to the plot of Act II, Sondheim believes there are dire consequences to lumping all of these wonderfully rich, vastly different cultural stories into a boiled-down, condensed version for an end.
Fairy Tales 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I think it is quite clear that both Into the Woods and Fables are more recent pieces because neither takes fairy tales as they were originally intended to be interpreted. Fables places fairy tale characters into a more dramatic world. Fairy tales typically aren't dramatic, at least not to the level of a comic book so seeing the characters in such a dramatic way is intriguing. Into the Woods is truer to the originals than Fables. It is lighthearted and is more aligned with the way that we think of fairy tales today. It's silly and fun while also teaching a lesson.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
First, "The Shadow" is set in a non-descript location, some sort of village with a lively main street and friendly townspeople. The village is in a very hot country that suffers from a heat blazing from the sun. It is the kind of heat that "turns the people a deep mahogany brown," and the man suffering from the heat is a "young and clever scholar from the colder north." The story interestingly personifies the man's shadow, which stretches and grows and regains strength.
The supernatural element is not very magical in this story, it's more just... strange. One day the man wakes up and says: "Look at this, I haven't got any shadow!" And years after a new shadow had grown in its place, the old shadow comes back wearing flesh and clothes, gold watches and rings. They sit down for a meal and story-telling time. The shadow had left him to be with Poetry herself. She lived in a brilliantly lit home. For some reason the shadow is very arrogant, insisting he not be addressed as "old friend" and reminding the man that he knows all. Years later, the shadow returns and asks the man to become HIS shadow! He is careful to take the place of the "master" and calls the man by his first name while he must be addressed by last.
Lastly, the story includes a princess. She is lovely, but considering that her malady was "seeing too clearly," the shadow fools her without problem. The shadow woos the princess with the unknowing help of the man, and they are prepared to elope. The man refuses to say he is his shadow's shadow, so they throw him in prison, kill him, and live happily ever after! But the lack of a happy ending for the poor scholarly man was a grave departure from normal fairy tales.
This tale dramatizes Anderson's mixed feelings toward the patronage of the upper class, according to Zipes. But the strangeness and simplicity of the story, as well as the unfair ending, are rather different than other tales.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
who wrote this story in 1904 (about half way through his life). The
story is about a little servant boy name Tiki-pu whose master was an
artist/ art teacher. He was treated very cruelly by his master but had
an intense desire to become an artist himself. Each night he was
locked in the art studio to cleanup and then sleep on the floor.
Finally he got the idea to try his hand at painting by stealing bits
of candles and scraps of rice paper, etc. and working at night. At one
end of the art studio there was a very famous painting by the most
highly revered artist, Wio-wani. The legend was that he had painted
the place he wanted to rest after he died and then just walked into
his painting one day and went through the back door of a castle. One
night while Tiki-pu was painting, Wio-wani came out and invited
Tiki-pu into the painting with him so he could teach him to paint.
Tiki-pu joined him in the painting each night for a while, before his
master caught him and painted a brick wall over the door in the
picture so he could not come back out. Tiki-pu stayed in there for 5
years, until one day him and Wio-wani took down the brick wall.
Wio-wani came out of the picture with him and beat the master with a
brick from the painting, killing him, then returning to the painting.
Tiki-pu was a great artist after that and no longer had to suffer
under his cruel master.
I think this story has some of the usual fairytale elements, such as the mistreated child being the hero of the story and the cruel master being brutally killed in the end. The concept is very interesting and honestly something that I have thought about before. The magical ability to enter and operate within paintings. While this story does claim to be a fairy tale and possesses some of the usual characteristics, I think it is actually more of a legendary type of story or myth. Just as we have been discussing in class about Eckbert the Blond and how Bertha talking about a fairytale directs our attention to the relationship between the overall story itself and a fairytale, this story discusses the legend of Wio-Wani entering the painting he had created within the story, which brought my attention to the legend genre when considering the overall story. I think there is almost a power of suggestion by mentioning things like that within the story.
As a side note, as someone who has spent time extensively studying Chinese culture, history, language, etc. I felt like this was not a very accurate story (especially considering the names); which brought up an interesting point of how fairy tales are written to encourage us to at least mentally escape to far away places, which was perhaps Housman's intention in writing about China (without what appears to be any personal experience with the country).
In this brief story, Fairy Tale is given a description that allows it to encompass so many different aspects. It's neither male nor female, adult or child. It's as soft as a mother while also being as strong as the hand of a king. It has a smile that is bright yet quivers with sadness that is indescribable. A fairy tale is all of the above. It's a story that takes no sides and is whatever you want or need it to be.
The wise men of science, theology, love, gold, and wine all dismiss Fairy Tale and fight among themselves until the world is "shaken to its center." The wise men dismiss Fairy Tale because it is not serious. It isn't meant to solve the world's problems, and yet, somehow it seems to help. It gives people an outlet through which they can believe in the unbelievable. This story is a fairy tale because it doesn't claim to be the truth or anything serious, which is the entire point of a fairy tale.
Friday, April 9, 2010
I liked how you mentioned the difference in tone between a typical "grimm's fairy tale" and the literary tales of this week. the tone is much more factual, detailed, and even historical, such as by alluding to the legend of Tristan & Isolde. It reminded me of the "historical background" on the nice guy that Bluebeard really was, who was taken advantage of by 7 different women and finally stabbed to death by the last wife's lover's henchmen. I did not know that this background on Bluebeard was not true, so I read the whole thing feeling terribly sorry for the poor guy, and angry at how history portrayed him! I totally believed it, just because the story began with a scientific, historical-sounding, objective tone.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
What I found interesting about The Philosopher's Stone was that the story is told not from the point of view of some omniscient narrator, but from the Egyptian, at least for a vast majority of the story. The story also takes on the whole satirical tone to where the reader almost wants to take it seriously and then realizes that it's a joke. On the other hand, the story is written in a way that makes it seem real and more plausible for the reader.
Friday, April 2, 2010
In seventh grade, I acted in production of “The Golden Goose” at my middle school. I was the King. I didn’t have a name. Nor a character, really. The king was only supposed to be really cranky with anything his daughter said. He also hated Simpleton with a passion. This translated to me furrowing my brow for the 20 or so minutes I was up on stage. That is, until the last scene, in which I give over my daughter to Simpleton. He proved virtuous, so he gets a wife. Standard stuff.
Reading the Golden goose tale makes me see the Simpleton character in a completely different light. I know that we car studying this story in conjunction with other men stories. Simpleton, though, is truly a fool. Not that he has any more sense than any other man in a fairy tale, but he is especially stupid by comparison to his cleverer brothers. But wait! His stupidity actually gets his somewhere. His cleverer brothers refuse to share their food with a dwarf. Simpleton doesn’t really know how to say no or consider that he is being taken advantage of, so of course his shortsightedness is rewarded. This is really the only proactive thing he does in the story. So, in one sense, maturity can be achieved through one virtuous or selfless act. Simpleton is already thinking about marriage, so its not physical maturity that he requires. Manhood is simply a state of mind that is somewhat given by a wiser more virtuous man.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I think Iron Hans was the most interesting story of the most complete progression through the boy's life, but I still felt like there was interesting information missing. If the boy's hair was so beautiful and he was the rightful heir to a kingdom, why did he pretend to have scabs on his head and not want anything to do with the money the princess had given him. By participating in the war and contest, he clearly shows a willingness to be a part of the kingdom and win the princess over, but she doesn't know that he is giving the money away, etc.
I don't know that these stories give young boys much direction about how to become a man because it seems like most of what they have is somewhat magically provided for them. I also feel like the missing story of the wild man complicates this by having no explanation whatsoever of why he had been enchanted and why he was suddenly a king. Boys can't just suddenly be kings with no explanation. I think the Grimm's the wild man story had the most practical lesson to it, don't become a drunk vandal that is vulnerable to temptations and eventually ends up ridiculed in a cage... of course until the end of the story when he is suddenly a king after his giving "redemptive acts" toward the boy. I don't know what to make of all these stories and the progression of the boys growing up. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.
The second advice is how to get a wife. He takes a job and starts working. But instead of working on his own, the wild man does all the work and all he has to do is to take care of his appearance – which finally also guarantees him the princesss attention. Paired with his refusal to take her money and giving it to the wild man instead, we can see three basic manners how men should be: they should take care of their appearance, they should be willing to be only rewarded for the work they do which is basically honesty, and generosity, as he gives the money to somebody else even though he could have needed it himself. All these points finally influenced the princess to marry him.
Even though these features helped him convincing the princess, he couldn’t convince the king and the queen. He had to war to be accepted and appreciated by them, which is probably the final advice for young men who want to gain success in life. It reminds me of the rags to riches story: the only possibility for a regular man to be accepted by the higher society probably was great services in war. Thus military service was another important factor in a mens education.
"Clever Hans" is interesting to me because while I was reading it, I assumed that Hans had to be a young boy due to his blatant stupidity and lack of common sense. Upon reading the final line of the tale, "That was how Hans lost his bride," I was surprised to discover that Hans, at least by the end of the tale, was an adult. I think this story says a lot about how men are perceived. Hans' lack of growth from the beginning of the tale (it's unclear as to how old he is at the beginning) to the end implies that man's ability to discern logically is somewhat stunted. Hans listens to his mother's suggestions and always utilizes them "next time," but never grows wise enough to discern when her suggestions are appropriate. Hans grows from a stupid boy to a stupid man who ultimately loses his bride because of his inability to use common sense.
In addition to lacking common sense, Hans continues to faithfully listen to his mother as if he were still a child. Whatever his mother tells him to do, Hans obediently does it. His growth into manhood is so stunted that there really doesn't seem to be a difference between his childhood and adulthood. It's difficult to discern any change and really makes the reader wonder if there is any progression into manhood at all for Clever Hans, which makes him an interesting choice when studying the progression from boyhood to manhood.
1. The Huntsman
The hunter, like in many fairy tales (i.e. LRRH), is a pretty burly and competent guy. The hunter looking for the Wild Man is fearless and intelligent (He lets his dog get dragged into the pool before he does). He valued teamwork, had manly friends, and wasn't afraid of hard work (three guys use buckets to empty out the pool). And the hunter nobly protects the safety of the peasants by putting the wild man into captivity.
2. The Wild Man
The wild man is persuasive and uses his leverage well (golden ball <--> cage key). He knows how to get things done. But he is still kind to the boy, teaches him the value of hard work (in the castle with the cook/gardener) and the value of the dollar ("There you shall know poverty").
3. The boy
The boy is willing to learn, help, fight in a battle, humble (doesn't want to take credit for saving England, prefers his cloppity horse), attracts a pretty woman, and work hard in the kitchen and garden. He is generous with his money with the gardener's children, and Iron Hans knows that he has a good heart.
So, what does this all mean for the roles that men should play in society?
Thursday, March 25, 2010
the Little Mermaid (lose your voice and be pretty!)
Cinderella (cut off your toes; you won't need them when you have a man!)
Sleeping Beauty (worst princess)
but we spent the most time of all discussing Gilbert and Gubar's Madwoman in the Attic, and specifically their take on Snow White.
When watching the 1937 Snow White, I couldnt help but view it through mostly a feminist lens. Gilbert and Gubar describe the competition between the women: "the one fair, young, pale, the other just as fair, but older, fiercer; the one a daughter, the other a mother; the one sweet, ignorant, passive, the other both artful and active; the one sort of an angel, the other an undeniable witch." The main problem that this raises--why do women have to be either an angel or a demon? Women in fairy tales are either categorized as angelic or bitchy, and I don't think any REAL woman can be given exactly one category in which to live her life. Through the films, we see the stratification between angel and witch very clearly through makeup, figure, and sexualization.
One interesting character evolution we can see in film is of the wicked stepmother. In the 1916 version, she is given a name as Queen Brangomar and is more realistic. She conspires with a witch for more beauty, who kills Brangomar's sister and makes her queen. This somewhat lessens the severity of her evil by splitting the character of the Wicked Stempother into three different women. In Disney's, the Stepmother is much more interesting than Snow White. Dark makeup and a slinky figure show that she must be evil. She relies on some demonic magic and her dangerous beauty to get what she wants. Enchanted uses a real actress to embody this stereotypical evil woman.
Disney downplays Snow White's lack of agency in the tale by giving her working songs, and a previous "relationship" with the prince. But in the tale, Snow White is purchased as a beautiful thing by the prince. She is simply passed from a literal to a figurative glass coffin- a life of domesticity and happiness living with a Prince.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Disney chose to skip Snow White's parents altogether. When we meet Snow White, she is already in her late teens/early twenties and the Evil Queen's jealousy and hatred for her is almost at its tipping point. We never know where Snow White comes from, nor is it ever really established that the Evil Queen is Snow White's step-mother (as far as I can remember, I could be wrong about this but since it doesn't immediately stand out in my mind, I'm going to assume that it's never established). The Evil Queen simply becomes a crazy woman who is jealous of Snow White for a vain reason. Disney is notorious for using orphaned or single-parent characters (Bambi, Pinocchio, Jungle Book, Cinderella, and more recently Princess & the Frog, Lilo & Stitch, Aladdin, and the Little Mermaid). I read, but I can't remember where, that he did this in order to gain the sympathy of the audience for his animated characters. Yes, Aladdin is a street rat who steals but he also doesn't have any family!
It's interesting to see what a small role parents play in this fairy tale, particularly since Snow White doesn't seem to be as bright as other characters in fairy tales that we've read such as Hansel & Gretel and the Juniper Tree. These characters, who had present parents, were able to outsmart their step-mothers and prevail while Snow White falls for every trick the queen throws at her. If it weren't for the dwarves intervening, the queen would have killed Snow White much easier. It's strange, but it would appear that present parents equate to smarter protagonists.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I also felt like these tales were similar to Beauty and the Beast. One major difference though was that there was no prince charming under the facade of the Beast, but instead a much more horrible beast under the facade of a normal man (minus the unnatural blue in his beard). The beast in these stories really was a beast.
I have to disagree with the last comment though about the leading lady in Bluebeard being stronger than Belle in any sense. Belle did make the decision to live with the Beast without being forced into it because she wanted to be virtuous and keep promises made in order to honor her father. This last wife of Bluebeard's sometimes did not have a choice about the marriage and when she did, she only acquiesced based on his wealth. Also, she took the time to be obedient and get to know him and fall in love with the Beast, instead of immediately doing something to disobey and build mistrust with her husband and then encourage his death. I believe Belle was the stronger female in these stories.
Also in contrast, the B&B stories focus on the love between them growing while in the Bluebeard stories the focus is on mistrust and murder. I know that I have focused on the differences, but I believe there are many more similarities between the stories than differences. I am curious about how closely their tale types are related.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
One thing that occurred to me was that it has often been revealed through interviews with other psycho paths (modern day Bluebeards)the thrill of the chase, the excitement of predator and prey, the building of fear in their victims to raise the interest they have in murdering people. If Bluebeard really did not want her to go into the room, he didn't need to give her the separate key that went to that room (unlike in the beauty and the beast story where the father gave his daughters a key that went to all the rooms in the castle and told them not to go into one, Bluebeard has to give her a separate key for the room. He is bloodthirsty and clearly enjoys killing his victims, so I believe that he had the intention to kill her eventually whether she opened the door then or not, but by giving her the key, he knew he was making the option irresistible and that she would open the door and be horrified (which heightens the thrill of her murder for him).
He is crazy in a very bad way and he is a serial murderer; she just opens a door and through gaining this knowledge saves her life. Why is she the bad guy in this story?! I just feel that the past critics and our class is missing something...
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Another thing I noticed about the Bluebeard tales is that they tend to be more gruesome than many of the other stories that we've read. This series often focuses on the horrible deaths of the former lovers of Bluebeard and how he killed them. In my opinion, this series is the least "family-friendly" series since it is so violent and particularly descriptive. I think it is definitely on a different level than the rest of the fairy tales because of its mature content. Out of all of the different collections/themes that we've studied so far, this series is the one that was newest to me, but I know that it's most likely because of the maturity level of it that I was never introduced to it as a child.
On the other way the invention of the devil also takes away the wife’s responsibility of her own destiny. It’s not her fault anymore and she does not really have a choice about what she’s doing as the devil is influencing her. Taking this a little bit further, one could get the impression that this movie suggests that women do not really have a choice, but that their curiosity is part of their nature imposed by the devil and that they therefore cannot be trusted. It is obvious that the devil part has a much bigger influence on the woman than the good fairy. Thus, the moral message of this scene for the husband can be interpreted as don’t give too much responsibility to your wife as this is going to destroy your relationship. It somehow reflects the classical Victorian ideal of the husband being the leader of the household and the wife being his servant that does not have any authority at all.
Curiosity is a theme that has reappeared in several fairytales that we have read this semester.
But I find the gender constructs surrounding curious characters troublesome. This is because in general, women are punished for their curiosity and men are praised for it. Curious women suffer consequences for their interest in the unknown and curious men are rewarded for their journey into the forbidden.
Perrault’s Bluebeard repeats this theme of female punishment for curiosity. It seems to me that fairytales have a way with internalizing what is appropriate behavior for women and men. And if the story of Bluebeard is to teach women anything, it is that they must learn to control their curiosity.
Aside from providing women with a model of behavior, the story of Bluebeard diminishes women by portraying them as beings without willpower, and dependants on the men in their lives for saving (in this case, her brothers). This subjugation of women is the norm in Perrault’s stories and this influenced his 17th century audiences and these structures, reinforced by fairytales such as Bluebeard, continue to influence gender understandings today.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
In a film titled "Someday My Prince Will Come," I noticed many elements and motifs present in the film that we have discussed in class from fairy tales.
1) the effect that parents (abusive, missing, or benevolent) have on their children: Stephen's father has been in prison for almost two years, and we pity a sad, lonely boy stuck in a dirty house with just his dog, hungry for supper. Jamie, who smokes and gets into fistfights, learned violence and independence from his abusive father.
2) incest: not from a father to a daughter like in All Fur, but Laura-Anne wonders how to replace the love she feels for her cousin, Stephen, with a more acceptable love. Regarding this taboo love, she simply says, "One doesn't."
3) human transformation --> animals: Laura-Anne's dad tells her there are plenty more fish in the sea, and she says that that would be fine if she wanted to go out with a fish; reminiscent of the Frog Prince.
The film is carefully weaved with clever winks to the audience showing Laura-Anne's love of fairy tales: Little Green Riding Hood, Prince Ben, and men as her "protectors." This movie is beautiful in a breathtakingly bare setting, and Laura-Anne's presentation of love at ten years old is unforgettably honest.
Monday, March 1, 2010
First of all, I personally believe those children are way too young to be doing everything that they are doing (9 year olds don't need to be making out and swearing), but looking at their present situation it is understandable that they do grow up a little faster. I think this video was a good modern day glimpse into the world that initially produced fairy tales, where kids are treated like little adults and have to overcome challenges and are even in a sense "married off". The parents barely seem involved in the kids lives (which as a disclaimer could completely be due to the way the people filming wanted it to appear, framing the children as the main actors in a grown up world). The one boy, Jamie, said that he learned to fight from his father hitting him so much, and was already smoking. Her cousin Steven had to be the man of the house while his dad was in jail, etc.
I thought the scene where her mother was trying to teach her some sex ed was interesting. Clearly those kids are in an environment where that is very relevant to them at a young age, so it was good that the mother was at least broaching the topic, but that scene was very revealing about the mother. First of all, she did not seem very informed on the matter herself and appeared uneducated. She could not read without the aide of her daughter, could not pronounce words she should be familiar with, and laughed off a lot of the subject. In later scenes we understand that her mother is helping her buy birthday presents for her boyfriends and just in general is fine with sending her out in the world of boys to fend for herself. *Note: World's youngest parents recently hit the news a couple of years ago (age 9 hailing from Britain)...just saying.
Having established that this is not friendly childhood environment, I was wondering which versions of fairy tales these children would read. I get the impression that it could easily be the (more) original and raw versions than the cleaned up Grimms and other modern versions infused with moral lessons and colorful pictures. In that case they would be able to relate to the fact that not all stories end happily for everyone. It may not get their hopes up for someone or something that is never going to happen. But I am a little conflicted because I think that Laura-Anne could have really used the good example of a prince charming in her world to teach her not to settle for boys who were verbally or physically abusive, instead of thinking that was the norm or as good as it got, she should be waiting for and looking for someone that merits a princely tittle with virtuous features. So, I'm not sure where I stand on this movie (other than the fact that I hope to bring up my own children very differently when the time comes), but these are some of the thoughts that I had on it.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
He relies upon her more than once in this story and we not only see the common Grimm motif of the virtuous selfless girl rewarded in the end, but a theme of a father's dependence upon his daughter's familial devotion. I believe that the father's helplessness is a useful detail in this story because it acts not only as a plot device and explanation for the daughter's "imprisonment" at the castle, but it also serves as a striking contrast in the portrayals of masculinity between the father and the beast.
In Tatar, the inclusion of family mostly served to highlight how good Belle is in comparison to her mean sisters, who had to rub onions on their eyes in order to cry when she left. I found it kind of strange how willing the father was, in the written tale, to allow her daughter to be punished instead of him. Even though she did ask for the rose, nobody asked the merchant to pluck roses from the garden of beastly royalty. Although the inclusion of family makes Belle a laudable heroine, it is also a bit anti-climactic that she is visited once a week by her family, and that the beast's castle isn't scary at all. "So they spoke together about the garden and about the house and about her father's business and about all manner of things, so that Bella lost altogether her fear of the beast. Shortly afterwards her father came to see her and found her quite happy, and he felt much less dread." The neat, bow-tie ending does not make for a very interesting tale.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
In other tales that we have studied so far, parents have repeatedly shown strong influences over shaping their children’s futures. Sometimes they are a light for their children to guide them in the right direction and other times, especially in the case of step-mothers, parents are a source of strife and provide a sense of resolution for the main characters to react against. Then there is the non-existent parent, which is common in fairy-tales and which provides a sense of emptiness within the main character that allows the reader to sympathize with them. Parents, whether positive, negative, existent, or non-existent profoundly influence the life experiences of their children and in the case of Belle, her father’s impact is great. I think that the beautiful, loving, caring relationship between Belle and her father exemplifies and encourages that child like simple faith in life and love that Cocteau cherished so much.
I think the presence of parents also removes some of the threat of eroticism within the story of the blushing maiden in the presence of a beast that is not actually physically described, and therefore could be anything from a ruthless man to an actual animal. The asexualized nature of the parents, as scions of societal organization who have sex for procreation an not the fulfillment of primal desires. If there was not the parental element in the story, if Beauty just stumbled upon the castle, what hope would there be for propriety on any person's part? One might actually be able to assume that without the social organization provided by the parents, the beast would immediately eat--or, worse, have sex with--the virginal Beauty, who represents a precious commodity in a culture based on the family. The parents create the social structure that dictates the proper behavior of Beauty and the Beast (or at least try to in the Pig Prince stories).
I like that parents are so prevalent and are often positive figures in these tales because in many of the more recent versions of fairy tales that we see, the parents are either non-existent or evil in some way. It's refreshing to have parents that legitimately care for their children for a change.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
This version obviously is about feminism and emancipation. Little Red Riding Hood is the strong character in it. This starts with her appearance. She has short hair like a man and her French accent reflects the strong, independent woman from France. But also her behavior clearly depicts feminism: she clearly dominates the male wolf, rejects him several times and is not concerned with things like romanticism. When she says that “she always had a special relationship with wolfs” she clearly talks about sex. In French “voir le loup” (translated: “see the wolf”) means having sex, often even for the first time. (It probably derives from a wolf having a tail, which in French can mean both: literally a tail but also a penis). Thus, talking about a special relationship to wolfs, it is Little Red Riding Hood who takes the stereotypical role of the male by not being romantic but just being concerned with sex. The wolf on the other hand is clearly feminized: he cares about things like romanticism and is not able to dominate her but is instead dominated by her. This can also be seen in the last scene. Even though Little Red Riding Hood does know that the wolf is dangerous and killed her grandmother, she still goes to face him. In this scene we do have a shift from the traditional Little Red Riding Hood where the girl asks the wolf and the wolf replies. It is him asking her questions. During the conversation, the audience even gets the impression that the wolf is scared of her and not Little Red Riding Hood of him. The scene reaches its peak when she tells him that she will eat him. The following clapping and cheering of the female audience only further underlined the feminist approach in this version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I too, chose to write about the version of Little Red Riding Hood that has a “Strange Twist.” (Katie J.) In this version, the Wolf and Little Red Riding Hoods’ grandmother join in an alliance against Little Red. Is the grandmother crazy? Did she overdose on her medication? Did she take too many painkillers? The fact that she is on her death bed one second and then shaking her booty the next suggest to me that this is so. This depressingly bizarre version of Little Red Riding Hood uses the grandmother to stereotype women as impulsive, forward, and un-loyal. Little Red Riding Hood is unable to stand against her grandmother and the world, portraying women as weak and dependent upon others.
I am disheartened by the theme of women against women found in this telling of the story. Here we have three related women and only two of them are supportive of one another. Little Red and her mother are enemies fighting against the supposed matriarch of their lineage. In stories we often see women competing against each other, but this case is especially saddening because the women are all blood related.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
For my video this week, I watched a Little Red Riding Hood sketch from a German comedy special by none other than Monty Python. As you can see, they seem to have taken a few notable liberties. I love the ferocious wolf cast as a cute pup in a furry shirt. It is absolutely remarkable how ingrained the story has become on our culture. Across the globe, (this clip was dubbed into English) we laugh at the plot alterations and the new, bolder interpretation of a not-so-little Red Riding Hood due to the fact that everyone knows exactly how the story is supposed to go.
Like most modern day renditions, Monty Python removes all erotic aspects from the story; however, they also remove most other aspects. For example, they substitute virtually the entire conflict, and the "What big eyes you have!" scene, for Buzz Aldrin in NASA HQ. I was not bothered in the least by this new plot. The story itself obviously, much like The Juniper Tree, is irritably illogical. Eric Berne complains of the same plot holes in Tatar: "Why didn't her mother do it herself, or go along with LRRH? If grandmother was so helpless, why did mother leave her all by herself in a hut far away?" and so forth. The original story has so many plot gaps that this version isn't too much of a modern stretch.
My favorite part of the original story: "Are you making cables out there? Are you making cables?"
I decided to see if Disney happened to do his own version of Little Red Riding Hood and was not surprised when I found that he did in fact do his own version of the tale early in his career in 1922. This is one of seven Laugh-o-Grams with four of the originals still surviving. Walt Disney did this before he was "Walt Disney" and known worldwide for Snow White, Cinderella, and even the creation of the mouse himself, Mickey. I found his take on the story particularly interesting because it is so out of the norm for what we are used to seeing Disney produce.
Typically, Disney does adapt stories to fit his own needs and makes them more family-friendly. The first thing I noticed in this video was the complete replacement of an animal predator with that of an actual human. The wolf that preys on Red is now a full-fledged human next-door-neighbor type who noticeably doesn't have to do anything to get rid of Grandmother and does who knows what with Red inside of Grandmother's house. The predator element is still there but oddly, Disney chose to make it even more creepy and realistic.
The realistic aspect of Disney's take on it is even further enhanced through the modern (for the time) look of the characters and scenery. Disney's Red doesn't travel by foot. No, she's a modern girl who travels by car... pushed by her dog. The hunter who only appears in a few versions of the written tale rescues Red not with a gun but with wit and the help of his airplane. Also, in true Disney fashion, the tale has a happy ending and ends with Red and the hunter smooching on the airplane which is a new addition that follows the standard of guy getting girl in the end that we are used to seeing.
I also thought it was interesting that Disney spent a good portion of his story focusing on Red's mother who really isn't significant in versions of the story that we read in class. Disney also chose to add Red's father (I think that's who he was...) to the story. We see him hanging in what appears to be a portrait so either he's dead but able to talk or just an interactive picture that watches over Red's house. Either way, I think it's a bit funny that Disney chose to add him but portray him in such a creepy way.
Disney's version of Little Red Riding Hood is similar to James Thurber's version in that puts a modern twist on an old tale. It makes the tale a little more belieavable while still being eery yet fun. Although, I must admit that I find it easier to believe the idea of a pedophile existing and going to such extensive measures to capture his prey more believable in today's world than in the 1920s.
Everything is listed with its prices, everything is shown as objects for consumption. This, in my mind, is effectively LRRH as an infomercial (but without the C-grade stars and hokey announcers), this story is not taking place "Once upon a time" it is taking place now, in some uniform quotidian suburban (video game?) setting with prefabricated homes and GPS. I am very taken by this video one because I think the animation is great, but also because I love how it turns this "moral/educational" Fairy Tale into exactly three minutes of advertising, without actually losing the story at all.
PS. you can see the whole video and the street names and words better if you watch it in HD (720px) on YouTube, the embedded version does not really do it justice!