Tag Archives: cinderella

Midnight on the Steps of the Palace by Lisa

It’s impossible to run in glass slippers.

I don’t mean difficult—I mean flat-on-your-face impossible. In fact, flat on my face is exactly how I ended up when I attempted it. One heel dislodged, my toe was still trapped, and there I was, sprawled on the marble steps, the bounty of layers from my dress thankfully breaking my fall.

The palace guards were on me in the blink of an eye. Surely someone trying so hard to get away had a nefarious reason for it, and they wanted to stop it.

That was how it happened that after an hour and a half of dancing with me—and by dancing I mean all but carrying me as he twirled; it’s impossible to dance in glass slippers also—the prince abruptly met my true self, strong-armed by two men the size of trees.

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Movie Magic Monday: The Disneyfication of Fairy Tales

Yesterday I had the chance to watch Disney’s Cinderella for the first time in… forever. And even knowing what was going to happen, I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Sure, it’s a classic. We all know and love it for that reason. But watching it after so long was almost like watching it for the first time, or watching it with a new pair of eyes. I smiled and sung along, delighted once again by Gus the big and lovable mouse and disgusted by the idiotic, large footed stepsisters and their devilish cat, Lucifer (I would have skinned him alive).

But the more I watched it, the more I realized how different it feels from another telling of virtually the exact same story, something like Ever After: A Cinderella Story. While one difference between them is obvious, in that one is animated and one is not, the tone and telling of the stories vary vastly. Disney has sugar coated a rather ugly situation and made it palatable to children, meanwhile the more adult version of Cinderella is witty, heartbreaking and action packed.

They both share the central love story, but while  Disney makes it feel like holding hands and adoring glances, Ever After felt more edgy, sexy, and realistically impossible. While I love Disney cartoons, Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid being personal favorites, I feel many of their interpretations of classic fairytales fail to capture that darkness that all fairytales tend to have tucked deep inside. Sleeping Beauty might be the only exception, as that one is somehow remarkably dark, for a children’s film.

And really, let’s face it, that’s what they are, films targeted to children. It would be wrong to fill them with some of the sick undercurrents many genuine fairytales contain. Most times, I’m glad for that. There are times when I need the romanticism of it all, the very innocent magic of a Disney film.

But sometimes, I’m in the mood for something that’s true to form which is why I feel YA fiction has taken fairytales and turned them on its head. It’s great to see modern and edgy retellings of fairytales (like Beastly or Ash or A Curse Dark as Gold – RUMPLESTILTSKIN!) that speak to the familiar and yet take us to another place entirely.

So enjoy a classic Disney movie, but when you want the really meaty stuff, turn to a good book.

Movie Magic Monday: The Princess and the Frog

I have to hand it to Disney, this was a real attempt.  The Princess and the Frog was meant to be a return to classic Disney—think Disney Princesses Disney.  It was complete with a nefarious bad guy, mystical guide of a sort, kooky side-characters of various species, surprisingly dark elements, and lots of musical numbers, with a prince charming moment at the end…

But still, something was a little bit off.  It wasn’t quite the same.  It was a hash between a princess movie and The Emperor’s New Groove, and while I love both genre’s, and this did end up incredibly cute, it just wasn’t the swoony Disney love story I’d been kind of hoping for.  Even the musical numbers didn’t hit me as quite right.  It seemed as if they were added because Disney wanted this to be a musical, not because the songs actually fit into the story, particularly.

That said, I think if I’d seen this as a kid, I’d have probably enjoyed it… but give me Cinderella, please.  Or any of the classic princess movies.  My heart is locked up in those sweet, simple fairy tales.  This had too much spin to it, and not enough sweet, I think.  I have to give it a C.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Fairy Tales Retold

We all know the story of Cinderella.  Girl’s mother dies, her father remarries to a horrid woman with horrid daughters, and the girl becomes a servant in her own home—until a fairy godmother and a discerning, shoe-toting prince change everything forever.  It’s a simply story—the Grimm’s brother’s version is only two or three pages long.

That said, if you look up “Cinderella” on Goodreads, no less than 54 pages of results pop up.  That’s over 1000 books somehow based on thbe story of Cinderella—and that’s only one little fairy tale (though granted, it’s a very well known one!) and that doesn’t count tv, movie and play adaptations.

So what is it about a fairy tale—any fairy tale—that makes us reach for them over and over again, even if we already know how it’s going to end?  Is that what we like?  Knowing that—minus a few intentionally twisted versions—the girl ends up with the boy, and everything ends up happily ever after.

Or is it more of a tug-of-war in our hearts, where we want something old and familiar, but we also can’t help but yearning for something new and exciting?  Could it even be… *gasp* a bit of a sell-out?  People re-telling something they already know will sell, because it has so many times before?

Maybe another question I should be asking, is, why do we feel the need to recreate something—why can’t people come up with brand new fairy tales all on their own?  Some certainly have—look at Neil Gaiman, for example.  Or Maggie Stiefvater, who I can’t stop raving about.

So what do you think?  What is it about a retold fairy tale that appeals to you?  What are the turn-offs?  What are the best ones you’ve read?  We’re always curious to know your thoughts!

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Fairy Godmothers

edmund-dulac-fairy-godmotherFairy godmothers are pretty much ubiquitous in the world of fairy tales, right?  I mean, they’re everywhere!  Or… so it seems.  Actually, when you stop to think about it, though, that’s not quite true.  Oh, it’s true when you start to look at contemporary stuff, and retellings, of course, but take a glance at the wide canon of fairy tales out there in the real world, and you start to realize that they’re not quite that common after all. In fact, if you think about it, only two of the basic fairy tales happen to involve fairy godmothers—they just happen to be about the most famous fairy tales of all.

Of course I’m talking about Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  You might be surprised (or not) to hear that in many renditions of Cinderella (including the Brothers Grimm story of Aschenputtel) Cinderella is helped,not by a fairy godmother, but by the spirit of her dead mother.

Okay, so now that I’ve told you all about what fairy godmothers, aren’t, let’s take a look at what they are, hm?

Firstly, the reason that fairy godmothers are so rare in fairy tales to begin with, is because they really don’t act much like fairies.  I mean, think about it.  Fairy godmothers are generous, and always looking out for the well-being of their charge, whereas fairies in general will, if they pay any attention to humans at all, do their best to spite them and/or cause them harm in some way that amuses the fairies.  They’re not exactly known for their benevolence.

In early stories, also, fairy godmothers had all the normal duties of a regular godmother, and were often representative of social connections—think of the blessings the three good godmothers give to the princess in Sleeping Beauty.  Fairy godmothers were, in a subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) way, a lesson in the old adage that it’s not what you know, but who.  It certainly would be difficult to turn down connections with someone who had magical powers to bestow!  But fairy godmothers—like any other powerful connection, were understood to be someone you were to show respect to, or beware the consequences.  Think, for example, of the wronged godmother in Sleeping Beauty—you don’t want those powerful connections turning against you!

Fairy godmothers were also largely associated with the Fates of Greek mythology at one time.  You can see this the clearest in Sleeping Beauty also, with the number of three [good] godmothers, and with all that spinning going on. 😉

cinderella2 Interesting, isn’t it, that something fairly rare in fairy tales ended up being so huge in our modern vernacular?  I mean, really, how many times have you heard someone say something like, “She is like, my fairy godmother!” ?  On the one hand I find it kind of strange, but then on the other… I guess it really does make a lot of sense.  Because who would forget the possibility, after you’d heard that story?  Who’s ever walked away from Cinderella not half-hoping or wishing that she had a fairy godmother of her own, to wave a wand and give her a pretty dress and a shot at the kind, beautiful (if not slightly plastic-looking) prince?  Not many of us, I don’t think.

If you want to check out some more modernly tales of fairy godmothers, have a glance at My Scary Fairy Godmother by Rose Impey, or Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon.

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