Saturday, November 29, 2014

Going Back in Time...

     Looking back on all the blogs I have written and the material we have covered throughout the semester, I am pleasantly surprised with the amount of information I have been taught.  In the very beginning of the semester, we worked as a class to ascertain what is the true meaning of a fairy tale.  As a direct result of the discussions in class, I defined my own personal interpretation of what it means to be a fairy tale in the second blog.  Having this foundational definition was very crucial before moving forward and delving into the analytical process of numerous specific fairy tales.  Some of these covered were "Hansel and Gretel", "Cinderella", and "Snow White", where I upheld the true nature of the course and compared the original Grimm tale to the Disney film adaptation.  During the week that we discussed "Cinderella", we analyzed my favorite fairy tale on a much deeper level by proving the assertion that the tale follows the common motif of "rags to riches through magic and marriage".  Near the middle of the course, we were instructed to evaluate other class member's blogs
in an attempt to critically view our own and the progress we have made so far.  By perusing the other blogs, I was not only able to measure my own growth up against that of my classmate's, but also I was able to see their opinions and analytical interpretations, many differing from my own.

     Continuing with a look at different fairy tales, we covered "The Frog King", "Little Red Cap", the Bluebeard tales, and "Rapunzel" as topics for our blog posts.  Whether comparing the tale of "Cupid and Psyche" to "The Frog King" in blog seven or finding cartoons that highlighted motifs within the tales of "Little Red Cap" and "Rapunzel" in blogs eight and ten respectively, I gained a better perspective on the stories and the meaning behind the transition from print to film.  In my very first blog, I stated that it was my wish to
see how Disney was able to spin the rather dark, original stories of the Brothers Grimm in such a positive light for an audience primarily comprised of young children.  Now, scanning through my brain and blogs at all the information we have covered in this class, I feel as though I have met and even surpassed this original goal of mine.  I have most indeed learned the ways and methods in which Disney altered the original tales, but I have additionally analyzed the texts and films at a much deeper level, sometimes more than was expected.  But it is through these thorough investigations where I have truly learned the most valuable data and obtained skills in order to take with me into future courses throughout college and beyond.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair"

           
          Scanning through the different cartoons that have been published centered around a Rapunzel motif makes for an interesting experience.  I viewed one cartoon that chose to portray Rapunzel as a cannibalistic princess who would lure men to climb up her golden hair so that she could bind them and feast on their bodies.  The cartoon highlighted a particular man who came along and pointed out the possibility of it being easier for her to come down rather than him to come up based on the fact that he weighed presumably more than her.  The last panel of the cartoon ended with Rapunzel of course being mad that a smart man had finally come along and ruined her plans of his future imprisonment.

            
By: Conservatoons
http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2010/083/2/1/Feminist_Rapunzel_by_Conservatoons.jpg
           Regardless, the cartoon that I chose to discuss is one that addresses a feminist approach to the Rapunzel tale.  Hair can be considered a feminine symbol in every genre, but it is in this story where the symbol gains particular strength as Rapunzel's seemingly infinite, golden yellow hair is what identifies her.  In a similar manner, the Disney version of Tangled points the focus towards the significance of Rapunzel's magic hair by depicting the hair as a commodity.  It is a product that Mother Gothel is willing to kidnap Rapunzel as a young child for because she wants the power of Rapunzel's hair to keep her young forever.  Once she takes Rapunzel from the king and queen, she locks Rapunzel in a tower, and raises her as her own, continually telling Rapunzel that the dangerous world is no place for a young girl with magic hair.  This cartoon shows a man approaching Rapunzel's tower and asking for her to let down her hair, like in any of the versions of the tale.  With a blast of feminism, Rapunzel answers that she would "sooner shave [her] head...than let any man use [her] as a stepping stone" (Conservatoons).  In other words, the Rapunzel figure in this cartoon feels very highly of herself and would be so bold as to cut off all of her hair, or erase that part of her identity, than let a man climb up her tower.  She is not willing to let any man walk all over her, and is thus more apt to sacrifice an important part of herself than to succumb to the whims of a man.  I still think that this idea conflicts a bit because in her attempt to uphold feminism and not let a man get the better of her, she still would be willing to surrender a part of her identity for the cause.  However, I suppose it is the message that matters in that case.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sonnenallee: A Film of Fairy Tale Characteristics

            On Friday evening, November 14th, I watched the movie, Sonnenallee.  I had neither seen nor heard of this movie prior to seeing it just yesterday, but I knew that it had to be an excellent film.  I based these conclusions on the facts that it is a German movie and the content of the film addresses the conflict between East and West Germany, or more specifically, East and West Berlin during the 1970s.  The film centers around the life of Micha, who is a 17-year old boy growing up in East Germany, and his quest to win the love of fellow classmate Miriam Sommer.  Embedded within Sonnenallee's plot are indeed characteristics of fairy tales that can be analyzed and interpreted to ascertain a different meaning.  One such feature of the film that is attributed with many fairy tales is the idea that these stories are marked by stark contrasts.  In the case of this particular film, this is gathered from the idea that the geeky boy with nothing special about him was able to win the heart of the girl who was so popular and beautiful that she literally stopped traffic.  Although it took much persistence and determination on Micha's part, he was able to prove his love for Miriam in the end.  

            Another trait of the fairy tale that is exhibited in Sonnenallee is the concept of character isolation.  It is typical in most fairy tales for only a few characters to be present, and ultimately this is for the reason that the main action of the story is more clearly defined and accurately carried out.  In the film, there are many more characters than is to be expected in the average fairy tale, but each character or group of characters is following their own isolated storyline.  Micha is pursuing the love of Miriam, and simultaneously battling his feelings on signing up for military service.  Mario becomes dedicated to loving his girlfriend, Sabrina, and caring for her as he learns they have conceived a child together.  Wuschel spends the entire movie doing everything he can to procure a forbidden record of the Stones.  Overall, there are many more examples that outline the isolation of the characters; thereby, explaining how this characteristic of a fairy tale is present in Sonnenallee.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Different Colors of "Blue Beard"

            The three different versions of the story of "Bluebeard" ultimately follow the same plot with a few unique twists here and there.  Both the Grimm tales, "The Robber Bridegroom" and "Fitcher's Bird", as well as Perrault's "Blue Beard" contain only one single element of magic: the key that remains blood-stained.  There is most definitely a magic ingredient acting here as the blood from the key should be able to be wiped from its surface, but beings as it cannot be removed, it is clear that magic is at work.  In all three of the stories, many of the symbols and characters are also very similar.  The magical key represents temptation before it is soiled, and disobedience after it has become dyed with blood.  The presence of the locked room that the Blue Beard character forbids his wife to enter likewise represents the temptation as it is the ultimate test of whether or not she can heed his order to not enter, despite her having the power to do so with the key.  Also, in the three versions, there is a character presence that represents security and protection as the different characters help to save the wife from her death.  In conclusion, all versions contain murder and exhibit the absolute brutality of men.  Unlike many other fairy tales, these three versions consistently portray marriage as unhappy because the tales start with marriage, but end with execution. 

            In discussing some of the differences between the three versions, it is interesting to note how the wife is chosen.  In "Blue Beard", a rich lady who lived next to Blue Beard was given the choice of picking which of her daughters would wed their rich, yet frightful neighbor.  Although harboring objections at first, the younger daughter eventually willingly enters into a marriage with Blue Beard.  On the other hand, "Fitcher's Bird" reveals a version of Blue Beard which utilizes sorcery to literally kidnap each of a man's three daughters before the youngest daughter uses her cunning to outsmart the sorcerer and prove herself worthy of his marriage.  In "The Robber Bridegroom", a miller marries his daughter off to a man whom he believes to be of the right stature for his daughter.  The daughter in the story is not fond of her father's choice and doesn't trust him from the very beginning.  The deaths of the Blue Beard character also vary slightly throughout the different versions, where the French fairy tale has Blue Beard killed at the hands of the brother's swords, "Fitcher's Bird" details a fiery death of Blue Beard and his guests as she and her relatives manage to lock them all in his house before setting it on fire, and "The Robber Bridegroom" reveals how the Blue Beard character and his buddies are all executed by the magistrate for the crimes they have committed. 


            My favorite of the three versions was definitely "The Robber Bridegroom" because the maiden in the story appeared to be such an innocent, naive character in the beginning, but surprised the reader with her clever plot to recount her adventure in front of all their wedding guests.  The idea to mask it as a dream is very inventive and fascinating.  I also find it very interesting that the power of the narrative is so stressed by this version; after all, the story she told is the very thing that saved her young life. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Dynamic Little Red

Guy & Rodd - #4 http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/L/Little_red_riding_hood.asp
     While searching for cartoons, I stumbled upon Guy & Rodd's depiction of the common "Little Red Riding Hood" theme that Red is portrayed as an innocent and naive young girl.  On the contrary, this social cartoon works to challenge that of the original Grimm's tale in that Red actually acts on her suspicions.  In the Grimm version, she approaches and holds a conversation with the wolf in the forest because she doesn't know any other way.  After the wolf distracts Red by encouraging her to pick some flowers to take with to her sick grandmother, he runs ahead, swallows the grandmother whole, and then impersonates her.  When she arrives at her grandmother's house, Red enters apprehensively, noting an unusually strange feeling.  However, she squashes these emotions, and continues to her grandmother's bed.  Here, Red finds a version of her grandmother with bigger ears, larger hands, and a huge mouth.  Even though she asks the "grandmother" about the increase in size of the aforementioned body parts, Red does not act on her doubts and no sooner suffers the same fate as that of her grandmother.
     The text of this cartoon most definitely highlights Red's suspicions when it comes to the wolf's impersonation of her grandmother, but it also reveals her to be more of a clever girl.  Her naiveté is rather nonexistent in this interpretation because she points out that it is clear the wolf is just that, a wolf.  By following that with the personal reflection where she states, "I'm not an imbecile", this cartoon is almost poking fun at the Brothers Grimm for creating such a character that was blind to what was right in front of her.  By using such a strong word as "imbecile", Guy & Rodd express their opinion that Red was a stupid young girl who most definitely should have noticed that it was not really her grandmother lying in the bed. 
     I understand that when it comes to fairy tales, events within the story must take place in order to keep the plot moving and ultimately come to the author's desired conclusion in the end.  However, this point sometimes makes it difficult to sit back as the reader and watch a young girl just ignore the blatant signs that a hungry wolf is doing his best to try and eat her.  For these reasons, I like this particular cartoon very much because it changes Red from a immature, passive character to a more intelligent, active female character.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Love Conquers All

            After reading the old Greek tale of "Cupid and Psyche", I see some differences and similarities between this tale and that of the Brother Grimm's "The Frog King".  To start, the old Greek tale of "Cupid and Psyche" follows the story of a king's youngest daughter.  Like in Grimm's "The Frog King", she is the youngest of three daughters, and her beauty is absolutely stunning.  In the original Grimm version, even the sun who has seen nearly everything is awestruck by her beauty; however, the tale of "Cupid and Psyche" details Venus's jealously, for the young princess steals away all of her men.  Beyond this similar beginning, the two accounts take rather different ways to ultimately end the same with the young princess marrying and living happily ever after.

            "Cupid and Psyche" reveals much when it comes to trust and whether appearance is vital in a loving relationship.  After the oracle prophesied Psyche's marriage to a monster on the top of a mountain, her parents led the young princess up the mountain and abandoned her there.  Upon exploration of the mountaintop, Psyche was met with an ornate, magical home that housed her husband and seemingly everything she could ever want.  Her husband never made his physical appearance known to Psyche, and justified that  this sort of relationship was better for the both of them.  By the damaging advice of her older sisters, Psyche prepared a lamp to view her mysterious husband whom she had already come to love so much.  As she leaned in to get a better look at her beautiful husband, a drop of the oil from her lamp fell onto her husband.  He flew out of the window in a flash and she followed him.  Unfortunately, lacking the capability of flight, she plummeted to the ground.  Despite her disobeying the trust that Cupid had set up with Psyche, he still cared for her, and in the end saved her from his own mother, Venus, once again.  Thus, Cupid was able to forgive Psyche, and their marriage was filled with enduring love.


            
              A similar theme occurs in "The Frog King", where the young princess makes a promise to the frog that she is meant to honor.  Despite her repeated breaking of this promise, the frog persists without giving up on her.  This commitment is truly tested when she becomes so angry that she throws him against her bedroom wall with an incredible might.  Ignoring the fact that this is the act that turns the frog back into a human prince, he still is willing to love her after this.  Frog or prince, it is still a powerful statement that he puts up with all of her nonsense out of love.  In the end, like in "Cupid and Psyche", the two marry and live happily ever after with a love that will last forever.   

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blog Entry 6

         
      When it comes to overall blog presentation, I was especially fond of intherealmoftoday.blogspot.com's overall appearance.  I particularly liked the fact that Kristen used titles to name each individual blog post as supposed to the generic "Blog Entry 5".  This is something that I will take into consideration when creating my own blogs in the future because I consider a well-placed title more visually appealing.  The pictures she chose to supplement the text of her blog additionally work to complement her arguments and opinions.  I also like how Kristen grabs the reader with her blog entries and turns them into an enthralling story, rather than a boring, weekly obligation.  Overall, I find Kristen's work to be the blog I like the most.
           
          I would have to say that I like verygrimmtales.blogspot.com's blog entry entitled "Snow White: A Tale of Hope" the most.  Hannah fully answers the questions that were asked, and consequently does so in an intelligent, organized manner.  While pointing out the differences between the Grimm version and the Disney film, I like that she specifically highlights how the title of the Disney movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", accounts for the greater emphasis put on the characters of the dwarfs in this 1937 film.  Although it seems so obvious, I don't know if I have ever actually put that fact together.  Her entry is also visually appealing and shows evidence of pre-planning.

            After viewing all the blogs, I would say that there needs to be an improvement when it comes to answering the questions fully and with personal insight.  Although there is a balance  between elaborating too much and just the right amount, "short and sweet" answers don't always do it justice when the proposed question still needs to be fully answered.  By not answering the question, you are only cheating yourself and quite possibly your grade.