Thursday, 8 September 2016

Cinderella: Grimm vs Disney

I really enjoyed writing about Rapunzel, the differences between the 'original' fairy tale and the Disney adaptation, so I decided to do the same with Cinderella. I'm thinking about posting a new fairy tale (and it's movie adaptation) every Thursday. I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up now uni has started again but I can certainly try. I think we have all seen at least one version of the story, be it Walt Disney's Cinderella, Another Cinderella Story with Selena Gomez, A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff, Into the Woods, or the new live action version with the lovely Lily James and Richard Madden. It's all about a girl who lives with her evil step-mother and step-sisters. Somehow she finds a beautiful prince and bewitches him with her beauty and kind heart. It ends in another happily ever after.
But the Grimm version is somewhat, well, grim. Her mother's dying wish is for Cinderella to be good and pious. Unlike most versions, the step-sisters are beautiful, the step-mother behaves like an evil witch from the very beginning. Making Cinderella clean, calling her names, taking away her things (like a bed to sleep in, she sleeps on the floor in front of the fireplace instead). Her father lets it all happen. One day he goes out to a fair for business and asks the girls what they want. He brings the step-sisters beautiful dresses and Cinderella a branch from a tree, which Cinderella plants on her mother's grave. She goes to it tree times a day and cries under the branch, which has grown into a tree (due to her tears apparently). She wept and prayed, and one day a little white bird started giving her the things she wished for. 

The girls are invited to the dance to be presented to the prince, but of course Cinderella is not allowed to go. She has to help her step-sisters with their appearances. After doing all the things she was asked to do with the help of the birds around the house, she goes to her mother's grave. She wept again, and said: "Shiver and quiver, little tree, silver and gold throw down over me", and the bird threw a gold and silver dress and slippers at Cinderella. Her family did not recognise her in the pretty clothes and the prince sees how beautiful she is too. After refusing to dance with any other maiden all night he declares Cinderella to be his partner. But when she wants to go home, insist on coming with her, so she escapes from him and flees into the pigeon-house. 

The prince waits for Cinderella's father and he cuts the house to pieces with an axe. It appears to be empty and they find Cinderella lying in front of the fireplace (she was a clever girl). That night the same thing happens again, only then with a pear tree in the garden rather than a bird-house. On the third night, the prince decides to smear pitch on the staircase (Into the Woods was not that far off) so Cinderella cannot escape again. Hence he finds her slipper in the pitch. The prince goes to Cinderella's house and the first sister takes the slipper into her room. She cannot get the slipper to fit, her big toe is in the way. So her mother tells her to cut the toe off and she obeys. Now she fits the shoe and so the prince puts her on his horse and they right towards the castle. They pass the tree (which Cinderella planted) and the birds sing, or rather tell the prince that there is blood on the slipper and the girl does not fit the slipper at all. So he took her back.

The second sister also has trouble with the slipper and so her mother tells her to cut of her heel, and she too obeys her mother. The prince is once again tricked and puts the maiden on his horse. When they are about the pass the tree the birds tell him once again that this is not the right girl. He takes her back too and asks the father if there is no one else. To which the father says: "No, there is still a little stunted kitchen-wench which my late wife left behind her, but she cannot possibly be the bride". I know right, what an ass. But as well all know, Cinderella does fit the slipper and so the prince put Cinderella on his horse and they rode towards the castle too. As the pass the tree the birds sing that he has at last found his true bride. The birds sat down on Cinderella her shoulders (one each) and rode with them to the castle. Her evil step-sisters show up at the wedding, one stands on her left and the other on her right. Asking her for forgiveness. They want to have part of her fortune. In response the birds pick out their eyes, a punishment for their "wickedness and falsehood".
I guess that's Cinderella her happy ending. As you can see, the two versions differ a lot, but I understand why Disney (and others) decided to change the plot and characters. It's a bit cruel if you ask me, but then again it makes sense too. What kind of father treats his daughter like that? It's a shame he and the step-mother got away with it. However, I don't understand why Disney decided to go with mice rather than birds for little helpers? Why did they decide to go with a blue dress rather than gold and silver? Or why a fairy godmother rather than a loving mother, who protects and helps her daughter from the grave (in a way). I can appreciate that they still partly used the two birds at the end (as you can see in the gif). I'm not a huge fan of the Cinderella franchise, even though I watched a lot of different versions, including Cinderella 2, 3 and 4 (seriously, don't watch those they are horrible). I don't have a favourite. I like the idea of a girl being kind and gracious when others mistreat her, in a very very bad way, but I never understood what this story was trying to tell me. You need a man to escape uncomfortable situations..? Blind those who mistreat you? What do you think?

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