Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Fun: Fairy Tale Ads

Here is a little bit of Friday fun that I found on Tales of Faerie. Lemmonpepper99 on You Tube has compiled a playlist of fairy tale TV ads dating all the way back to the 1930s!

It is interesting to see what themes the ads pull out while trying to sell something. Little Red Riding Hood is either about sex, safety, or personal power. Cinderella is more often than not about searching for things we desire or transformation. Sleeping Beauty is strangely comedic in most, and ends up being either about sleeping peacefully or waiting for what you want. The Goldilocks ones are always about "just right." 

I think my favorites were the Little Red Adidas commercial and the Oreo commercial for their animation, the Nokia one for finding fairy tales in every day life, and the GHD and 7up commercials where our heroines take their destiny into their own hands. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Movies: A Tale Dark and Grimm will be an Henry Selick Movie!!!!


(breathe. Resume quasi-professional demeanor.)

A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz, is one of my favorite fairy tale adaptations of all time. Click here to read my review of it. Click here to read Adam Gidwitz's defense of dark fairy tales.

Now, it is going to be a movie with one of my favorite film artists at the helm, Henry Selick of Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas.

If you watch the trailer you will see how well the story lends itself to Selick's style. 

OUAB has more details about the movie and what the book is about, so check her out. 

Articles: "Feminism" in Disney's Frozen and The Snow Queen

So I was full of lies when I said I wouldn't talk about Frozen anymore. Once Upon a Blog has really been cooking these last couple weeks, churning out really thought provoking articles on feminism, "feminisim," and blatant sexism in Disney's Frozen and other movies.

1) Disney's Ugly Princesses (Just Kidding. Being Pretty is a Requirement.)

There has been a lot of internet outrage when Lino DiSalvo, the head of animation for Frozen, claimed it was really difficult to animate women:
 "Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but you have to keep them pretty and they’re very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they’re echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry.”
Basically saying that it is more important for the character to be pretty than to express a range of emotions realistically.

This also brings back the conversation of how similar both the heroines in Frozen look like Rapunzel. I didn't realize how much until Once Upon a Blog showed this:


Ridiculous. It is like they did a test poll of what the most appealing face was and are cookie-cuttering it. OUAB has more thought provoking analysis. She also follows it up with a part 2: The Good Thing About Comas and Sleeping Princesses (?!) aka Ugly Princesses Not Allowed Pt 2, in which she explores the internet's outrage further, and branches out into the rest of the Disney Princess canon. 


The Snow Queen by Julia Griffin

This post might be my favorite because it examines the false feminism of Disney's Frozen ("Look! We have TWO heroines!") with the very real portrayals of female strength in the original "Snow Queen." OUAB discusses The Feminist Fangirl's post about why she is not supporting Frozen because, in the original, not only the protagonist, but 99% of the supporting cast are strong women of different ages and types: The Robber Girl, The Robber Girl's Mother, The Snow Queen, The Princess, The Garden Witch, The Lapland Woman, The Finland Woman, Grandmother, and the Lady Crow. It would have been a fantastic opportunity for Disney to showcase all kinds of female physicality, not just the cookie cutter princesses above. OUAB's post focuses not so much on ranting against Frozen, but as a on a lament for the original, and the lost opportunity there. 

(Though if you want ranting, the Feminist Fangirl post is fantastic!: "That Disney feels it’s necessary to take a female driven, female dominated story and cut it down to one princess protagonist with a dashing male helper/love interest, is honestly disgusting and one of the most blatant examples of Hollywood’s lack of faith in women in recent memory." Go girl! )

Also check out this really great blog post by Laura Athena: The Snow Queen: Visions of Female Strength for a great analysis of the women in "Snow Queen" (though the formatting makes it a bit difficult to read).


OUAB, as am I, is intrigued by the new trailer, which focuses on the sisters, and she discusses how few tales of sisterly love there are in fairy tales. The main protagonists are usually princess and prince, or sister and brother rather than two sisters. I can now sort of see how it is "The Snow Queen" again, only the Snow Queen and Kai are combined into one character: Elsa. However, it does not excuse the above article's point that they are lauding themselves for having two lead female roles, when they cut down a cast of 10 female roles and replaced them with male love interests and sidekicks. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Video: Who is the Wolf? Two Red Riding Hood Interpretations

I have a long backlog of adaptations I wished to discuss, and when I was exploring them, I came across two very different Little Red Riding Hood tales, one a short film, one a webcomic. While most interpretations focus on a young and handsome stranger as the wolf, these give us a different look at the wolves in our lives.

The Red Hood from Danishka Esterhazy on Vimeo.

The Red Hood first examines the wolf as "men." All men have an animal inside them waiting to strike. The enemy is not a predatory stranger, but the supposedly safe husband. And then the wolf is the girl. The wolf is not a specific gender. It is a primal and desperate urge inside all humankind.

Once Upon a Blog has a wonderful write up of it, including background and words from the director about her vision for the film. My joy at Red's killing was not as complete as Gypsy's however. When the husband stopped, and did not attack her, I saw a moment of doubt, of softness, like he might want to talk. But then her lover did not give him a chance to speak. That moment of the husband's hesitancy diminished the triumph I might have felt in her actions.

Redden by Maya Kern is a short webcomic which sends Red, a little girl, off to visit Grandmother, a terrifying monster in the woods. She is helped along the way by a wolf who gives her his pelt to "stay pure." When Grandmother see's Red, she decides to keep her as an apprentice. She forces her to set traps for the wolves of the forest, and  Red tries to helps them get free. But one day Grandmother catches her, and Red must fight for her life. The end is beautiful and heart wrenching.

The literal wolf in the tale is a friend whom Red must struggle to protect against Grandmother. Grandmother is the real predator.

File:Walter Crane26.jpg

illustration by Walter Crane

This brings up an interpretation of the fairy tale that is seldom explored in adaptations. The motif of the replaced relative comes up often in fairy tales. A mother is killed and replaced by a stepmother who is evil. The Brothers Grimm changed a lot of mothers to stepmothers so that the mother would remain good while still exploring the idea of someone who should love you treating you horribly. While the wolf in the forest is male, he goes and usurp's grandmother's place, even going so far as to wear her clothes, get in her bed and imitate her voice. A grandmother who used to be loving and kind, but now is cruel. The wolf is actually the grandmother. A loved one who has changed. Or in fact, a loved one who should be good but is evil. It is an interesting aspect to explore.

There are many wolves in the world. I think that is why "Little Red Riding Hood" is so captivating. We have wolves in every culture, in every walk of life: the person who appears to be good, but really is not. As much as the predatory male stranger is a strong and resonant interpretation, it would be interesting to see adapters to go in other directions to confront the other wolves in our lives.