“Once upon a time” is a classic beginning to most beloved children’s fairy tales, although fairy tales aren’t just for children anymore. Recently, the world of entertainment has taken hold of tales from the brothers Grimm, often putting its own modern twist on the stories.
The big screen’s most recent fairy tale adaptation is Disney’s new “Cinderella”, not to be confused with Disney’s original animated version of the story, which is the inspiration for the new movie.
The story will be conveyed as a classic rendition, keeping the story’s plot and setting intact, while adding visual enhancements from today’s cinematic industry.
Commonsensemedia.org said, “As a child, Cinderella loses her mother; her father dies when she's older. Both are drawn-out scenes filled with tears and intense sadness. The prince's father also dies, and Cinderella is a beautiful, kind, and dutiful young woman (albeit one with an unrealistically tiny, corset cinched waist) who's left to suffer at the hands of her evil stepmother … and being a courageous, kind person is a constant theme.”
Cinderella is an obvious favorite amongst most young girls, and because of its definitive popularity, it has been remade numerous times in various settings. In “A Cinderella Story”, “Sam [Cinderella] feels ostracized from the rest of the school with the exception of her … cyber boyfriend. Communicating by text messaging and email, the two schoolmates fall in love without even knowing each others' names. When they meet for the first time at the Halloween Dance, she is surprised when her Prince Charming turns out to be Mr. Popularity Austin Ames. Although she’s only wearing an eye mask, Ames’s inferior perception skills fail him as he doesn’t realize who she is. Sadly, Sam must return to her job before midnight, and as she flees the ball, she loses her cell phone,” cinemablend.com said.
Another movie based roughly on Cinderella is “Ella Enchanted”. Originally a novel by Gail Carson Levine, the story of ‘Ella’ depicts the Cinderella storyline but elaborates on back story and plot details, giving you a greater insight into the author's take on Cinderella.
The story of Cinderella makes another appearance in the novel “ Cinder”. In “Cinder”, the story takes place in the future and Cinderella is a cyborg. Marissa Meyer, the author of “Cinder”, takes the classic fairy tale into the science fiction genre.
Another childhood favorite of many is “Peter Pan”. The novel, originally titled “Peter Pan and Wendy”, was written by J. M. Barrie and was transformed into an animated wonder by Disney, both of which continue to be a classic today. Barrie’s story has inspired more movies than just the original one made by Disney in 1954.
In “Hook”, Peter Pan starts out as Peter Banning, described by Hal Hinson of The Washington Post as“the consummate soulless corporate raider, a man totally estranged from his children, and, more important, the child in himself. He's a '90s-style Lost Boy,” and is coincidentally married to Wendy Darling’s granddaughter. Peter later returns to Neverland to save his kidnapped children and embraces the iconic behavior of the classic Peter Pan, becoming full of imagination and childlike wonder. In the end, Peter returns home with a new mindset, prepared to enjoy the adventure of everyday life.
The movie “Hook” became an alternate ending for the original tale of Peter Pan. The movie expands on the idea of what would have happened if Peter Pan had stayed with Wendy when she returned to London from Neverland.
The movie “Pan”, being released in summer 2015, is set to reveal more of Peter’s beginning before he ever came to Neverland.
The story of Peter Pan has also been conveyed with a slightly dark mood in the 2003 movie “ Peter Pan”. It follows the same plot as the original version version, but tells the story through live action instead of Disney’s well known animation.
Inspired by the Peter Pan story, author Jodi Lynn Anderson took the secondary character of Tiger Lily and painted her life in Neverland in the book titled “Tiger Lily”. The telling of her story reveals several events from Peter’s life before and after the adventure of “Peter and Wendy”, including the proposed conclusion to his story, where Peter has become mortal.
Now the story of Peter Pan makes its reappearance on stage. This year, a live production of the musical, “Peter Pan Live!”, was aired on NBC after the profound success of “The Sound of Music Live!”. A new broadway musical will soon bring the story of J.M. Barrie to stage, with performances beginning in March, 2015. The musical is a stage adaption of the 2004 film “Finding Neverland”, which portrays the events in J.M Barrie’s life that led him to writing his most popular work, “Peter and Wendy”.
Other childhood favorites such as "Aladdin" and "the Little Mermaid" have been adapted into hit musicals as well. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” took to the broadway stage in January, 2007, and closed after 50 previews and 685 performances in August of 2009. Disney’s “Aladdin”, is the newest edition to the Disney broadway family, with performances that began in March of 2014 and are still continuing. On Christmas day in 2015 the musical “Into the Woods” was released from stage to the big screen. The musical combines several fairy tales including: “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel”, “Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood”. “Into the Woods” has become the mascot for twisted classics. “'Into the Woods', the splendid Disney screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical, infuses new vitality into the tired marketing concept of entertainment for ‘children of all ages.’ That usually translates to mean only children and their doting parents. But with Into the Woods, you grow up with the characters, young and old, in a lifelong process of self-discovery,” New York Times writer Stephen Holden said.
ABC aired a new TV show in 2011 that does the same thing. “Once Upon A Time” takes nearly every well known fairy tale character and reinvents their world by creating the town of Storybrooke. The show centers around the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, Emma Swan, and her various adventures fighting evil and teaming up with classic characters from many fairy tales, such as, Captain Hook, Pinocchio, the Blue Fairy, Ariel and most recently, Elsa and Anna. The show molds together the classic tales of many beloved and feared fairy tale characters. Red Riding Hood, “Ruby”, becomes a wolf herself and Rumplestiltskin becomes Bell’s beast.
“(I really like) Beauty and the beast, I love how it’s not the perfect princess story, how they find the prince charming underneath the beast, and it’s all pretty cool. It’s more realistic, and it’s a darker time in french history,” movie enthusiast and sophomore Dominic Fleshman said. The classic tale of “Beauty and the Beast”, which was originally brought to screen through animation in Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast", has recently inspired modern literature. Two such novels inspired by the fable are “Beastly” and “Cruel Beauty”.
“Beastly” changes the setting of Beauty and the Beast, placing it in a modern city. The "Beast” is a spoiled teen, known for his bratty attitude. One day he is turned ugly by a sorceress and his outside reflects his true personality. “This adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” combines Greek mythology, particularly the myth of "Cupid and Psyche," with fairy tale lore to weave together a complex fantasy that is rich in detail, action, and hidden meanings,” said reviewer Emily Griffith.
Although some don’t have the same appreciation for these new adaptions. “I heard [the book] was mediocre,” Fleshman said.
In “Cruel Beauty”, the main character, Nyx, is forcibly betrothed to a demon king, but finds herself growing feelings for him. Nyx represents Bell, and her husband, the demon king, is the Beast. “The romance of “Beauty and the Beast” meets the adventure of “Graceling” in a dazzling fantasy novel about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny… This gorgeously written debut infuses the classic fairy tale with glittering magic, a feisty heroine, and a romance sure to take your breath away,” bookdepository.com said.
The other fan favorite couple from “Once Upon A Time”, Prince Charming and Snow White, have also recently had their stories adapted by Hollywood.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” keeps a similar plot line to the original tale, but when facing the evil queen, Snow White becomes a warrior princess, tasked with saving her kingdom, and instead of ending up with a prince, she falls in love with a chivalrous huntsman.
Released the same year, was the movie “Mirror Mirror”. In “Mirror Mirror”, the dwarves are a group of rebels who train Snow White so that she can defeat the evil queen. “Mirror Mirror” puts a comedic spin on the Snow White story and alters the ending.
In the newest season of “Once Upon a Time”, a trio of villains take the stage, one of which is Maleficent, the magic wielding evildoer from “Sleeping Beauty”.
This villainess recently enjoyed the spotlight in the movie “Maleficent”. The movie specifically followed the well known story from her perspective.
Fleshman was not impressed by the recent film. “It was just trying to make the villain a hero, and make another movie that will sell,” Fleshman said.
Fairytales have clearly made a significant reemergence into today’s world of entertainment, but not only have the fairy tales reappeared, some of them have been altered into darker versions. “You’ll notice that the more violent our actual society becomes... you’ll see literatures getting to be more violent than the actual violence,” honors English teacher Laurie Repko said, when quoting her friend, a community theatre director, and teacher, at Liberty middle school.
“The public will be divided, they’ll be either wanting to immerse themselves in it or want to escape and so you get two audiences being played to. I’ve been watching that dynamic happen ever since I taught with him (Repko’s previously mentioned friend, community theatre director, and teacher, at Liberty middle school) and … he was so right, that’s exactly what's happening. I think people need that escape, the world is ... too crazy for them right now,” Repko said.
Fairy tales, in specific, have made their return due to the morals and themes they contain. “They speak to our humanity, they remind us to be good, to be true, to do the right thing... That’s what’s interesting about the fairy tales that are coming out now, you don’t expect the [villain] to have this good side, and we find this deeper truth in the darker characters. We see these [villains], but they’re not really [villains], that’s what we want to believe anyways, that they’ve always been good.
“I like that kind of backdooring in. It’s a lot easier to write if you have (a fanbase) out there [that] already knows the base-line skeletal story, but then you take an aspect of it and rearrange it. It’s kind of like rap music in a way, because they (borrow) a lot … from classic songs, (and) now filmmakers are doing the same thing. They’re playing to the older audiences who know the original, but then they’re also roping in the younger audiences by giving this adaptation,” Repko said. Fairy tales appeal to a large audience and gain fame from their widespread enticement.
The popularity of fairy tales hasn’t, and won't, always be consistent. Fleshman, being the movie guru he is, has not been swayed by the new adaptations and remakes of the classics. “I feel like we should either try to reinvent the wheel, or not try to remake the same stuff all the time,” Fleshman said, “[I] am on the fence, the market is so saturated with all these movies from the same exact source material. This is either a great or terrible time for adaptations.”
“It’ll ebb and flow. I think people are caught up in it now, but I think once the girls get tired of it, there’ll be a resurgence once they have daughters. So it’ll probably go dormant for 10 or 15 years and then come back,” Repko said.
Whether you are against these new versions of classic tales, or support them, it is clear that they could be around for a very long time. So choose which path to follow, and see what the journey will bring you; just try not to talk to any suspicious wolves or touch any spinning wheels.