Friday, March 9, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

I kind of like the resurgence in fairy tales in Hollywood recently.  Between Once Upon a Time and Grimm on television and Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman coming out as movies, it looks like the memo is going around and it looks like they're attempting to take some new and interesting angles.

I think that every child grows up on fairy tales.  It's the way to pass on the message that absolutely anything is possible.  It's lovely and sweet and all, but generally the fairy tales as read to kids are not the fairy tales as originally written.  I definitely have a preference for Grimm's version of the fairy tales over the scrubbed versions that Disney has taken on.  They're grittier, have more depth, and they don't always end with "and they lived happily ever after".  (Spoiler alert if you haven't read Grimm)  The Little Mermaid dies, the queen in Snow White demands Snow's heart, liver and lungs for her dinner, and Sleeping Beauty has her father's child after she's raped.  I'm not going to say that these are pleasant images or events, but they're just...more interesting for me.  Happy and fuzzy was not necessarily the Grimm way.

And taking a familiar tale and playing with it a little bit is something I've always enjoyed.  In a college creative writing class, I wrote a couple stories from the wolf's point of view in both Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs.  I enjoy looking at the motivation of "the bad guy".  I mean, what if the Big Bad Wolf was just hungry?  If his home forest was being chopped down and the other animals weren't as abundant, can you blame him for trying to get a bite to eat from a little girl's picnic basket?  Granted...chowing down on the girl and her grandmother might have been a bit extreme, but hunger makes you do strange things!  And what if the three little pigs had willfully destroyed the wolf's ancestral home to get the materials for their houses?  Can you blame him for wanting a bit of revenge?

Turning familiar stories on their heads is great deals fun for me when it's done well, which is why I'm pretty much hooked on both of the fairy-tale based television shows (and why Into the Woods is one of my favorite musicals).  When you can take the original and ask "what if?" it brings new fun into an old favorite.  I find it more enjoyable than knowing going in that it will end with "happily ever after".

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