“The Emperor, with his most distinguished courtiers, went in person to the weavers, who each stretched out an arm as if holding something up and said: ‘Just look at these trousers! Here is the jacket! This is the cloak.’
And so on.
‘They are all as light as spiderwebs. You can hardly tell you are wearing anything— that’s the virtue of this delicate cloth.’
‘Yes, indeed,’ the courtiers declared.
But they were unable to see a thing, for there was absolutely nothing there.”—
From The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen (via booklunatic)
A long time ago there were a king and Queen who said every day, “Ah, if only we had a child!” but they never had one. But it happened that once when the queen was bathing, a frog crept out of the water on to the land, and said to her, “Your wish shall be fulfilled; before a year has gone by, you shall have a daughter.”
What the frog had said came true, and the queen had a little girl who was so pretty that the king could not contain himself for joy, and ordered a great feast. He invited not only his kindred, friends and acquaintance, but also the Wise Women, in order that they might be kind and well-disposed towards the child. There were thirteen of them in his kingdom, but, as he had only twelve golden plates for them to eat out of, one of them had to be left at home.
The feast was held with all manner of splendour and when it came to an end the Wise Women bestowed their magic gifts on the baby: one gave virtue, another beauty, a third riches, and so on with everything in the world that one can wish for.
When eleven of them had made their promises, suddenly the thirteenth came in. She wished to avenge herself for not having been invited, and without greeting, or even looking at anyone, she cried with a loud voice, “The king’s daughter shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall down dead.”
And, without saying a word more, she turned round and left the room.
They were all shocked; but the twelfth, whose good wish still remained unspoken, came forward, and as she could not undo the evil sentence, but only soften it, she said, “It shall not be death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years, into which the princess shall fall.”
“….Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wing; for he did not know what to do, he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He had been persecuted and despised for his ugliness, and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful of all the birds. Even the elder-tree bent down its bows into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and bright. He would never became vain or conceited, and would always remembered how it felt to be despised and teased, and he was very sorry for all the creatures who are so treated merely because they are different from those around them. Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart,”—Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling (via me465)
“She was a strange child, quiet and thoughtful; and while her sisters would be delighted with the wonderful things which they obtained from the wrecks of vessels, she cared for nothing but her pretty red flowers, like the sun, excepting a beautiful marble statue. It was the representation of a handsome boy, carved out of pure white stone, which had fallen to the bottom of the sea from a wreck.”—Hans Christian Andersen “The Little Mermaid” (via strivefortheforbidden)
Also something else we picked up on, if you look around the world, no matter what country you’re in, no matter where you are, everyone is kind of grasping for hope right now. The reason I personally love fairytales, is the same reason why you buy a lottery ticket. It’s the belief that one thing can change your life.
The way that Lost is about redemption, this show is about hope. Storybrook kind of represents every town, represents everybody. We say it’s a town full of cursed people looking for hope, looking for their happy endings but that could be anywhere. If it’s Singapore, Hong Kong or Minneapolis, everybody feels like maybe I’m not where I want to be. And I feel like that’s kind of what our show is about.
“As literacy grew and the art of printing made books more accessible, storytelling began to die out. Worried that these folktales would fade from memory and disappear, collectors of folktales published them in books. Has the excessive presence of modern technological media almost eliminated the fashion of storytelling?”—
Q: Would you say it’s generally true that early versions of stories such as “Snow White” were darker?
JZ: You know, all they’re doing [with these films] is trying to stir your prurient interest. Really. They’re trying to titillate you, to say that this is going to be the film that will expose the deep darkness, the profound darkness of these tales.
[I don’t agree, however, on his statement that Disney produces “crappy animated fairy-tale films.” Despite rarely showing Disney on this blog, I love most of the Disney movies/fairy tales and that’s where my interest in this blog stems from. But I won’t really get much further into that here.]
Q: What is the cultural function of a fairy tale? Broadly speaking, how has it changed over the past several centuries?
[Fairy] tales themselves, they were never for children. There’s a “myth” about fairy tales that makes it seem as if they were naturally generated and universal, designated primarily for children. The tales were always told and later written down for adults. There was no children’s literature really, until about the 17th or 18th century. But children always heard these tales.
Has the function of a fairy tale changed? Of course it has, because technologies and the way fairy tales are disseminated and packaged have. Fairy tales were never commodities; up through the beginning of the 20th century, they were either told or read for pleasure (and also [some] of them were didactic) … Unfortunately, in the 20th century, with the rise of the consumerist society, a lot of fairy tales — particularly the ones that are developed by Disney, and Disney-like corporations — have [become] commodities to consume, simply for the purpose of the brand or the corporation that produces these films. In other words, they are produced to create a little pleasure — but basically to gain more profit and more power for the corporations that produce them.
“[…] stories such as “Snow White” and “Beauty and the Beast” have weathered many centuries, improving — and becoming better suited to contemporary audiences — over the course of their many reimaginings.
Does this “dark turn” in fairy-tale filmmaking represent a return to older, more forbidding versions of stories Disney gussied up for 20th-century kids? Or are these new movies simply cogs in the wheel of folk tale re-telling?”—
“There is always an awareness in children of their own vulnerability, however deeply it may be buried, and I think that is what the great folktales and fairy tales tap into. Yet they are also very affirmative, positive stories, in that their ultimate message is that these challenges can and must be overcome as part of the transition from childhood to adulthood.”—John Connolly, “A Conversation with John Connolly,” The Book of Lost Things
“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage, otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter, but darker.”—C.S. Lewis (via starflavoredspaghettisauce)