When "Mirror Mirror" opens in theaters on March 30, 2012, moviegoers will see the latest rendition of the story of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" by the Brothers Grimm. While stories based on classic fairy tales usually follow the rough outline of the original tales, they are rarely true print-to-screen representations.
Why? The original fairy tales are more for adults than children.
In "Mirror Mirror," Snow White is an exiled princess who gains the help of seven rebellious bandit dwarves. She has to defeat the Queen, who is trying to marry the prince Snow White is in love with. The trailer promises a strong mix of comedy and action in the story.
When Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected the ancient fairy tales of Germany in "Children's and Household Tales," the anthologists infused the stories with sexuality and gruesome scenes not present in the versions we know today. The modern print version, for example, tells of evil stepmothers who are killed or banished. The original versions had natural mothers tortured to death instead.
The Brothers Grimm wrote their stories in a way to push German nationalism. Adolf Hitler used these tales to rile up the Hitler Youth and press their superiority over other children around the world. The Allied Forces advised against reading "Children's and Household Tales," as weak minds might succumb to the stories' propaganda. The Germanic twists of the original fairy tales are not present in the movies we have seen over the years.
Other Fairy Tales
Sexuality, rape, and gruesome scenes of torture weren't just pet tropes the Brothers Grimm used. Greek mythology tells many tales of the gods of Mount Olympus raping women to create godlike offspring. The idea of killing people who cross you in love was popular in Irish fairy tales. The bards of ancient England commonly used gruesome or sexual scenes in their songs to keep people interested. Even "1,001 Arabian Knights" is loaded with sexual references and torturous encounters.
Just like in today's market, sex and brutality sold when these now classic stories were just getting their start. It was much easier for people to remember fairy tales filled with sexuality and gruesome scenes than ones without.
Zenoscope Entertainment has a successful comic book line called "Grimm Fairy Tales." The series is often criticized for graphic representations of gruesome murder and sexuality. In truth, the comic is closer to the original fairy tales than any version we have seen in theaters.
Movies resembling these comics would be condemned for "tainting the original" by backlashing parent groups and be hard-pressed to have something more marketable than an R rating.
Even though the costumes and sets in "Mirror Mirror" are more impressive than other live-actions versions of the Snow White story, it will be no closer to the original version than any other movie's take. Our society might love fairy tales, but it is not ready for a movie using the true blueprint of the originals. The most realistic representation would be closer to a horror film than a family affair.
More from this Contributor:
Find showtimes and tickets near you on Yahoo! Movies.
- Arts & Entertainment
- fairy tales