Friday, February 19, 2010

Grim fairy tales

Yesterday my neighbour was telling me that his son was doing a project on Little Red Riding Hood. The boy went to the library and checked it out. What dad ended up reading to his son was a repugnant tale of horror and psychological torment. Like Saw with a dubious fashion accessory choice. Okay, not really, but the story surprised him nonetheless.

See, the original story that his son ended up getting, has the wolf swallowing Grandma and Red whole, a hunter cutting the wolf open and the girls popping out and the three of them filling the wolf up with rocks and throwing him down a well. You know, a feel-good story of redemption and triumph. Like It's A Wonderful Life with drowning. Come to think of it there is a drowning in that movie. Huh. Anyway, I already knew about that darker version of the fairy tale.

When I was younger I had an anthology of original fairy tales. Man, they were gruesome. There was way more blood and sad endings than I remembered from the Disney versions. I'm pretty sure they weren't meant for kids. And if they were, then kids grew up pretty fast back then which is something my dad used to complain about while my brother and I were watching cartoons and having kick-fights on the couch on Saturday mornings.

Two examples: in The Little Mermaid, there was no happy ending with the handsome prince. He marries someone else and the mermaid dies and turns into sea foam. Take that Ariel. In Cinderella, the prince gets tricked and mistakenly takes each stepsister away to marry him (separately... these stories are perverse not perverted). On the way notices their glass slippers filling with blood because they were hacking at their own feet to fit into the tiny shoes. After they get rejected, they get their eyes pecked out by birds. Are you still laughing at the Saw reference?

So if you want to scar your children for life, I suggest you stay away from the Disney versions of these stories and stick to the gory old school versions. They are interesting reads, even just to see the inspiration for Disney's versions. It's too bad the originals got left by the wayside because as grim as these stories are, their grit and realism still make for an exciting thrill ride. Like Training Day.


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