Terrified screams rip through a dark forest. Ghostly eyes leer and skeletal branches attack an innocent girl as she runs from a close encounter with death — and she soon falls to the ground sobbing. Later, when several strange “little men” offer her refuge in exchange for cooking and cleaning services, a twisted old woman tricks her into eating poison and she enters a death-like state. In revenge, the men chase the old woman off a cliff and hold a wake for the poor girl. While they mourn her, a charming, handsome, prince wakes her with a kiss and she happily falls into his arms.
It’s not the Snow White I remember from my childhood, so I was pretty shocked when watching it again in preparation for this post. But then again, the only things I really remember from Disney’s 1937 movie version were the seven dwarves happily singing “Heigh-ho,” Dopey’s big ears, and the famous kiss from Prince Charming.
Both the Grimm tale and Disney’s retelling are incredibly dark — filled with death, attempted cannibalism, sorcery, deception, attempted murder, torture and in the Disney version, child molestation. No really. Disney’s Snow White is 14 years old and the kiss to wake her was totally made up just for the movie.
In my review last month of Cinderella: An Islamic Tale, I spoke a little about the problems of princess culture. Snow White was Disney’s first princess, and she set the bar pretty high for an entire industry that includes a massive amount of marketing and story-telling over the past 80 years. But the life lessons we can glean from this particular story are less than positive. [Read more...]