Disney has a great way of taking something dark and purging it so the original tale still carries a lot of its themes and intent. Originally, Cinderella’s step sisters cut off parts of their feet in a desperate attempt to bag the prince. In Hans Christen Andersen’s original version of The Little Mermaid, the poor mute girl ends up losing out in the deal, seeing the Prince marry someone else and so deciding there is nothing else she can do, tombstones off a cliff and turns into foam. Still, give the dream factory their due, they managed to churn and turn those dark sided tales into wide-eyed, cute and happy tales.
This cannot be done for all fairy tales.
There are some so dark, I dare even Mickey himself to manage to listen to them.
Below is a list of five tales that I personally think should a) never be Disney films and/or b) Disney could never save them from their darkness. If they did try, it would be like watching Game of Thrones in Vietnam, where all the naughty bits are chopped out giving you ten minutes of bearded blokes nodding and walking into rooms.
The Armless Maiden
Let’s start ‘light’ with this Russian tale of a young woman, blamed by her sister-in-law for numerous things in some vain attempt to get her out of the house. Her brother ignores and excuses each time, up until his deranged wife chops their own new-born son’s head off and blames the girl. He takes her out in a carriage, crashes it, and gets her entangled in some vines. As she attempts to wrestle free he chops off her hands and leaves her for dead. As I write I have visions of Jeremy Kyle’s tagline for the episode stewing in my brain.
Whilst her husband is off fighting a war, his stepmother plans to rid herself of Biancabella and so pays some guards to take her away and kill her. The guards didn’t have it in them to do it and instead, simply pluck out her eyes and cut off her hands (because that was obviously the kinder thing to do in such a situation.) She pleads for her sister to rescue her, and just as she is about to kill herself, is saved by the snake. Restored with all her features intact, she returns to the King, explains what occurred and watches on as the King hurls his step-mother into a furnace.
The Myrtle Tree
The Robber Bridegroom
The Juniper Tree
So there you have it Disney. I challenge you to turn these into lovely versions or perhaps one acceptable for a child audience! It is of course worth mentioning that the title of the book that the Brothers Grimm stories come from is of course, Children’s and Household Tales. Guess kids had a stronger stomach back then, unless of course it had been put in a stew and soft boiled!