Snow White’s story, filled with its rich imagery, villainous plot and magical interlacing captured my attention and ignited my pen. Following her plot line from Little Snow-White’s first publication by the Grimm’s Brothers in 1812; their second publication of Little Snow-White in 1957; and on through Walt Disney’s animated film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, my journey began. Definitely a dark tale which keeps story enthusiasts of many ages engaged and riveted far into the tale’s murderous unfolding.
I mean really, one’s own Mother being brought up on four accounts of attempted murder; all against her own seven-year old daughter! Her excuse? Some misguided direction from her self-appointed beauty consultant and weasel-y snitch of a talking mirror. Even the Prince had a hard time believing this one. The one about a wooden framed piece of reflective glass being equipped with language capabilities and prophetic insights. All prior to the invention of audio recording devices.
Now, fast forwarding to the end of the story, we find Snow White, a not quite so blushing bride, passively endorsing her own mother’s public, torturous execution; death by dance in flaming hot, metallic shoes. Even the newly emerging German culture of the early 1800’s was having a hard time stomaching this one. As a result, the Grimm’s Brothers revisited their storyboards and brought to the forefront a few revisions for their second edition of Little Snow-White published in 1857. These revisions resulting in increased sales from more socially approving audiences. In the end, it was great for centuries of audience members to come. Thanks to the Grimms Brothers perceptive awareness and
pen-fully correct altercations, North American audiences have been enthusiastically experiencing Hollywood’s current trend of Snow White inspired movies.
So what changed on the story front? In part, Europe’s high maternal death rates. Mothers dying in childbirth resulted in the increased reality of blended families and the rise of step-motherhood. Coupled with economic tensions, the perception of stepmothers being “evil” dominated the social scene. So here you have it; biological mom being brought up on four accounts of attempted murder of her only child is a bit harsh, but if it’s her stepmom being brought up on these same charges, this becomes a whole new, adventurous tale to tell.
Walt Disney’s groundbreaking animated film version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the 1930’s literally exploded US box offices. The Grimm’s Brother’s second version of Little Snow-White, provided Walt Disney with basis of his inspiration. In retelling Little Snow-White, Walt Disney too met the challenges of audience-induced, story-adaptations. One was meeting North American and European cultural standards of what a socially acceptable marrying age is or should be. Legal sex at the age of seven wasn’t going to make it by today’s standards. The former, publicly torturous death by dance got artfully
re-crafted into death by nature via a one way ticket over a mountainous cliff fueled by a striking touch of lightning. Walt Disney also added his infamous signature adaptation of the Prince’s magical kiss used to awaken Snow White, his soon to be bride, from an enchanted sleep. A touch of romance surpassing Grimm’s rendition of an angry servant carelessly slamming the glass coffin; intentionally or unintentionally.
What is your favorite telling or re-telling (oral, written or filmed) version of Snow White’s infamous adventures? Why? What sets it apart, for you, from others of its kind?
Until next time . . . Let your Storyographer’s Journey Begin!