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
           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.