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Monday, September 24, 2012


I loved the Disney movie of "Pinocchio" when I was a kid, and saw it many times. But when I was eighteen I finally bought the novel The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, translated from the Italian, and found it not only to be much better than the Disney movie, but even profound.

Peter Pan was the same.  I loved the Disney movie, but J.M. Barrie's book the movie was based on is much better, and profound, in which Peter Pan represents youth and mischief, and Captain Hook represents adulthood and proper form.

But, Walt Disney did well with Snow White.  He took the fairly dry folk-tale by the Brothers Grimm and turned it into an exciting and beloved classic movie. In the original story, she wasn't Snow White, but Snowdrop. And the seven dwarfs were simply that; without names or individual personalities. Disney took, "Say, glass that hangest on the wall, Who is the fairest of beauties all?" and changed it into the ever remembered, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, Who is the fairest of them all?"

In the movie, everyone's favorite scene is when the evil queen drinks the magical potion that Jekyll-Hydes her into the horribly ugly witch-like old woman. But in the original story the queen simply dressed herself up like an old woman. The original makes Snowdrop stupid enough to fall three times for the queens attempts to kill her, finally being done in by the apple.

Snowdrop's body was placed in a crystal box ornamented with gold and set on a hill for all to see, but although the prince came, it was not his kiss that revived her. Instead, "he was so struck with Snowdrop's beauty that he paid the dwarfs a large sum of money to allow him to carry her box away. As it was lifted down, one of the servants stumbled and fell. The door of the crystal box flew open, the piece of poisoned apple fell out of Snowdrop's mouth and she revived and sat up at once." There was no kiss, but there was her agreeing to his proposal of marriage, and they did live happily ever after.

The violent climax of Disney's movie was when the seven brave dwarfs chased the witchy queen up a hill, and she fell screaming to her death. But in the original story, the Queen was actually invited to the wedding! And "she was so furious that the Prince's love had brought Snowdrop to life again that she fell down in a fit, from which she never recovered." Although this original ending lacks Disney's climactic drama, it is the profound part of the story that Disney changed. It seems crazy that Snowdrop and the Prince would invite the evil Queen to the wedding, but this is the scriptural example of showing kindness to an enemy and so "heap coals of fire upon [her] head." There was no revenge, but it was the Queen's own vanity that caused her undoing. And so even here we can find the original more profound.

But there's something to be said for good ol' Walt Disney. He may have knocked the profundity out of some stories, but this master of children's entertainment often added just the right spice to make a story a classic to be remembered for all time.

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