Art / Culture / Film

Maleficent Creatures and Re-Enchantment

By: Swampish

Published a few months ago, Helen Oyeyemi’s novel, Boy, Snow, Bird, takes its inspiration from Snow White, reworking the tale’s celebration of “skin as white as snow” in relation to contemporary ideologies regarding race, gender, and identity. This spring also saw the opening of Aladdin on Broadway.  And in just a couple of weeks, Disney’s Maleficent will re-tell the story of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of one of Disney’s most chillingly cold villains.

Fairy Tale adaptations

Since these are but a few examples of major fairy tale adaptations created this year, it is fair to say that re-imagining the forms, themes, and/or perspectives of new and old fairy tales continues to be a vital activity in literary and popular culture. This is unsurprising to fairy tale scholars and enthusiasts, who have long understood the endurance, flexibility, and richness of old folk and fairy tales.  Below are a couple of excellent fairy tale resources for those interested in learning more about the wealth of cultural, literary, and psychological meanings contained within the fairy tales you’ve likely grown up with.

“Once Upon a Blog”

Follow all of the latest fairy tale news at the excellent site, Once Upon a Blog.  Here you will find the latest on film, television, literary, and graphic adaptations of folk and fairy tales from around the world, as well as insightful pieces on the culture and history of these stories.  Once Upon a Blog is amazingly comprehensive, and a wonderful read for those interested in children’s culture.

A recent post on Maleficent, for instance,featured an array of the film’s creature concept art along with thoughtful points about how these creatures help draw in boy audiences.  See some of the creature images below, and read the full post here.

Disney's "MALEFICENT" Conceptual Artwork©Disney 2014Disney's "MALEFICENT"Conceptual Artwork©Disney 2014

Re-Enchantment

The Re-Enchantment website is an amazing resource for those who wish to learn more about the history and meanings of fairy tales.  Via evocative graphics, media, and interactive links, Re-Enchantment presents histories, adaptations, and critical commentaries of classic tales through various literary and cultural lenses.

The site’s resources for Little Red Riding Hood, for instance, include an early oral version of the story known as “The Grandmother’s Tale,” the more famous versions by Charles Perrault and the Grimm brothers, and a re-telling by Italo Calvino.  It also includes critical commentary that approaches the tale from feminist, psychoanalytic, and historical perspectives, helping to expand considerations of various aspects of the tale, such as gender, sexuality, and materialism.

Re-Enchantment

The site includes a similar wealth of information on Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Bluebeard, and Rapunzel, along with places to discuss the old tales as well as contribute your own re-imaginings.  This is a wonderful site for scholars and teachers of fairy tales, as well as for anyone interested in delving deeper into this rich area of cultural and literary history.  Check it out!

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