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Breaking the Disney Spell
Transcript of Breaking the Disney Spell
The Beginning of Fairy Tales
The evolution of Fairy Tales begins with oral tradition before the invention of the printing press
"Oral folktales were intended to explain natural occurences"(333).
The tales came from common experiences and beliefs and were meant to teach and warn.
Disney's Magical Rise
How Disney changed the world of film and Fairy Tales.
Breaking the Disney Spell
Disney changed the very idea of what fairy tales are with his capitulization of American innocence and appealing to current morals and values
But is Disney really evil?
"Was Disney a nefarious wizard of some kind whose domination of the fairy tale should be lamented.
To understand exactly what Walt Disney did to the ideal of a fairy tale, and why he did it, we must look at the history of the tales.
Printing Press in the 15th Century
With the rise of literacy and the invention of the printing press, a division between literary and oral tales also seperated the social classes as to whom each tales were meant for.
During the 15th through the 17th century, oral tradition helped to create literary tales, and the rise of the written word began to prosper.
The 19th Century and the Rise of Violence
With the rise of fairy tales and authors such as the Grimm brothers, the differences between literary and oral tales became more and more apparent.
Introduced elitism and separatism
had closure of a happy ending
reinforcement of the patriarchal family
They continued to question written tales
supported realism rather than fantasy
could be changed to fit a society
were not permanent
Film at the End of the 19th Century
Film was revolutionary for fairy tales in that "the now imposed themselves on the text, and formed their own text in violation of print"(338).
Early animators were obsessed with the idea of themselves owning the Tales, you would often see them drawn into the story.
This obsession with making the stories their own led to conflict with oral tradition and its being able to morph to fit the society they are told in.
Disney for example, perfected his studio to suit himself, and in earlier works gave no credit to any of his assistants.
Scholars Argue Against Animation
The rise of animation brought on an impressive uproar from the literary community, whom believed that animation would bring the end of Fairy Tales. Walter Benjamin declared, "the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition,"
The Societal Role of Animation
When animation first became popular, it was meant to invoke awe from the viewer rather than contain deeper meaning. The images were meant to astound and not invoke thought. This suits the time frame from which poverty was a rising and a distraction was necesary.
Puss in Boots
Puss in Boots was the first controversial work of Disney's due to its huge variance from the original by Perault
Written in 1697
Cunning cat tricks a king and an ogre, Puss is symbolic for Perrault's social class at the time
The major protagonist is the cat
Young man gets kicked out of the kingdom
Female cat decides to help him in exchange for a pair of boots
Young man fights bull and wins the princess's heart
Disney's version was arguably his alluding to his own childhood, which had been impoverished, making his subconscious dream of going from "rags to riches."
It is said that the moral also represents Disney in that he can "achieve glory from deception."
Casting the Commodity Spell with Snow White
Starting in 1928, Walt Disney began making cartoons, he created tycoons such as Mickey Mouse and Steamboat Willie, and began being known for pushing the technology of animation to new limits. He created color animation in 1932
The production of Snow White was on a much larger scale than any other animation ever made. Disney's studio was split into various departments, but each decision had to be approved by Disney to make sure they went along with his morals and ideals for the project.
Disney took the tale and "transformed it into something peculiarly American.
No parents are shown in Disney's version
The stepmother is jealous of Snow's suitor
Animals protect and befriend Snow
The dwarfs are hard-working
The queen only appears once
Snow returns to life after kiss instead of when her glass casket is dropped
Disney has sadly "violated" the literary genre of the fairy tale, however Zipes finishes his criticism with a sentence that I find most eloquent: "Fortunately, the animation of the literary fairy tale did not stop with Disney, but is another tale to tell, a tale about breaking Disney's magic spell" (352).