We are about to destroy your childhood and by destroy we mean ‘annihilate and blow up into smithereens’. The beloved Disney movies that we all grew up on have seriously sinister origins. Read on for grimmer version of our favourite tales.
Cinderella’s story is so popular; every kid in the world is familiar with this story. We all know the basics, a long suffering Cindy, evil relatives, a makeover, a shoe is involved and then the happily ever after. However there are many retellings of this story, the earliest one is a Chinese version. In this story titled Ye Xian the fairy godmother is replaced by a magical fish and the cruel stepfamily were banished only to be killed by fiery stones later on. The Grimm brothers’ version of Cinderella is titled Aschenputtel. Here a magical tree is the equivalent of a fairy god mother that Cindy nourishes with her tears! In the end the stepsisters cut off their feet to fit into the slipper and it works for a while too. However Truth reigns supreme and Cinderella’s secret identity is revealed and life is good for all. Except the stepsisters; they have their eyes pecked out by birds. Charles Perrault’s Cinderella seems to be the most sanitized version and Disney used this tale for their movie.
Disney gave us a comparatively sweeter Pinocchio but in Carlo Collodi’s the adventures of Pinocchio, The main character is a misbehaving brat. The original Pinocchio is mean spirited on purpose and consciously chooses to be nasty and mess things up for everybody. Pinocchio encounters a talking cricket who tries to give him some good advice and Pinocchio reciprocates by killing him. I told you he was nasty! He does get punished for all his spiteful acts though. At one point in the book he is hung by a fox and a cat and he dies. Though this was supposed to be the original ending, he was revived by the author because of public demand. This story turns a lot more bizarre. Pinocchio turns into a donkey, gets attacked by fish that eat his donkey flesh and he turns into a puppet again. If that’s not a little eerie consider this- when Pinocchio turns into a real boy his puppet body doesn’t cease to exist. It’s still there alongside a live boy version of Pinocchio.
Disney’ Mowgli is a lovable resident of the jungle but not so in Rudyard Kipling’s version. In the original story civilized human society is a little reluctant to take in a boy from the wild so they somewhat reject him. In a typical anti Disney fashion Kipling had his main character take revenge on polite society in a cruel way. Mowgli enlists the help of scarred old Hathi who unlike the movie versions hates humans. So what happens then? Together this dynamic duo destroy an entire village, and go back to the jungle. A few years later however Mowgli returns to human society and spends the rest of his life there. Why did he raze down an entire village? Because he can. Also he kills Shere khan with the help of a devious plan and skins him for proof. Disney also changed a lot of other characters making them friendlier and more wholesome.
What is it with cannibalism and fairy tales? In the Grimm brothers’ version of Snow White, the evil queen is Snow White’s stepmother. She orders the huntsman to bring her Snow White’s lungs and liver to eat. Her plan fails and she tracks down Snow White to kill her. She attempts to murder her twice. But both plans fail. Finally the queen tries the old apple trick and Snow White despite three attempts on her life falls for the con and ends up unconscious. The prince stumbles upon Snow White’s coffin and orders his servants to carry it to his castle. What the prince wants to do with a comatose Snow White I don’t know. However the jostling of the horse dislodges the poisonous apple from Snow White’s throat and she wakes up and gets married to her creepy kidnapper right away. And the evil queen? She is forced to step into red hot shoes and dance till she falls down dead.
Heracles is the fabulous Greek hero, known for his bravery and adventures. Disney made Hercules, an animated film loosely based on Heracles and Greek mythology. This story has a lovable buff protagonist who performs acts of bravery to prove himself a hero. A distraction named Megara (our heroine) is sent by Hades to find out Hercules’ weaknesses. But she falls in love with him and turns on Hades instead. The movie ends with a classic Disney happy ever after. Except hold on. There are too many differences between movie and myth. Here are the most interesting ones - In Greek mythology Heracles is waaay different. According to Greek myth he is kind of a brute and a notorious womaniser. Also he killed his wife Megara and their children when Hera struck him with temporary madness; consequently he performed the 12 legendary labours. Disney obviously removed this unsavoury part, and changed a lot of other details too.
Disney changed a lot in this story and we thank them for that. The original story is horrifying at best. Giambattista Basile is the author of a gory version of sleeping beauty titled Sun, Moon, and Talia. It’s not a chaste kiss that woke up our horizontal princess, its babies, her own babies. Yup, prince charming impregnates a seemingly comatose princess. When one of the babies sucks his mother’s finger he wakes her up at which point the princess must have had more than one question. Think the worse is over? Nope the ‘prince’ returns and the princess agrees to get married to him (don’t ask me why) despite the prince having conveniently forgetting that he is already married. There is a mention of cannibalism and then everyone lives happily ever after. Or whatever. In Grimm brothers’ version, the princess wakes up after being kissed by the prince. Charles Perrault’s version of the story admiration alone puts an end to the sleep, the prince is part ogre, and he mistakenly believes he has eaten his own kids.
Victor Hugo doesn’t mind much to kill off his main characters. Everybody dies in the original novel; sorry to burst your bubble but Disney made this story a whole lot family friendly. In the original story Phoebus is a cheater, Esmeralda is hanged after being falsely accused and no one saves her. Want it to get darker? Well after Esmeralda’s death Quasimodo goes to her lifeless body and lies next to her until he dies of starvation. If Disney had included all this in their movie adaptation, little kiddies would be scarred for life!
Hans Christian Anderson story teller extraordinaire wrote a very different story compared to the Disney version. Disney’s favourite redhead has a happy ending; Anderson’s mermaid however is a tragic figure. The latter agrees to be turned into a human but this comes at cost of great personal pain. Walking for her will be equivalent to walking on glass. Along with the pain of walking the mermaid loses her tongue and voice. The witch cuts off her tongue as payment to turn human. Still she endures for love. Only to realise that the prince intends to marry someone else and our heroine would then turn into sea foam. To become a mermaid again she will have to murder her beloved. She can’t do this though and turns into a spirit that needs to do good deeds to get an immortal soul for three hundred years. This story obviously is a little darker and technically our mermy ends up dead.
Daniel P. Mannix’s ‘Fox and the Hound’ is not similar to Disney’s cheerful adaptation. If anything it is depressing! And everyone ends up dead. Tod is responsible for Chief’s death. The Master hell bent on revenge of his beloved dog kills Tod’s family two times. The first time the master gasses Tod’s little kits and kills Tod’s mate with the help of a trap. The second time the master lures Tod’s new family to their death. And it gets even sadder. Tod dies of exhaustion after being pursued by Copper. Copper nearly dies of exhaustion too, but is saved, only to meet a more gruesome fate. He dies at the hand of his beloved Master who shoots him. Also there is an outbreak of rabies in the middle which kills children and animals alike. Disney obviously took a lot of creative liberties with this one and we can see why.
Disney’s cartoon version of little red riding hood, has a cutesy little protagonist and a bumbling wolf. It’s not the hunter who saves our heroine; it’s one of the brave pigs from the Three Little Pigs tale. This brave soul saves red with the help of popcorn. Sounds like ideal Disney fodder? Well, there are other weirder versions. In Charles Perrault’s version the protagonist not knowing her grandma is dead removes her clothes and climbs into bed with the wolf that swallows her whole! The version from Italy/ Austria is called the Little Red Hat. Here the villain is an ogre and after killing the grandma he uses her intestines as a latch string. And it gets worse; red mistakenly even eats her grandmother’s teeth and jaws under the impression that it is food; also she drinks grandma’s blood believing it to be wine. And doesn’t get suspicious at all (brightest kid she is not!). Her naivety makes it all too easier for the wolf to swallow her up in one go. Which was expected. Moral of this morbid fairy tale – don’t talk to strangers. At all.
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