Around the world, many are awed by the beauty of Disney films. They are inspiring, beautiful and reach audiences in ways that no other type of movie can.
Overall, Disney films draw in the young, the old, both boys and girls. They are meaningful, and contain beautiful messages and a happy ending.
However, unlike these heartwarming tales that have been created by the Disney franchise, the original stories they are based on are not so upbeat and child-friendly. Many of the original versions of these fairytales, written by various authors, were fairly gory and the plots were not always what we think they are based upon our current limited knowledge.
For example, the story “Cinderella” is a tale in which the prince meets a fair maiden. She leaves suddenly from his ball, and he is forced to have every girl in the kingdom try on the shoe she left behind in order to find the girl he wishes to wed.
Up until this point, the Disney version of the story is accurate. However, after this point, the Disney version — first in 1950, then in 2015 — strays from the original plot.
In the original story, the Brothers Grimm describe in gory detail how Cinderella's stepsister cuts off her heel in order to fit her foot in the shoe! The other stepsister opts to cut off her toes in order to squeeze into the dainty small footwear.
Cinderella does win in the end, fitting into the shoe without a problem. As a result of these shenanigans, the sisters’ eyes are pecked out by Cinderella’s bird friends because of the way they treated her.
• Not so pretty
This is only one of many examples of the difference between Disney films and the original story.
In Disney’s interpretation of the story "Mulan", the hero comes home and lives a happy life with her family. In the original written by Chu Renhuo, however, Mulan comes home to find her father has passed away, and her mother has remarried the ruler of their country.
Mulan is forced to be his concubine, and then she ends up committing suicide. The details are much more frightful than even the war that occurred in the Disney version of this movie!
"The Fox and the Hound" is another example of a horrific original version turned cute by Disney. In the Walt Disney film, from 1981, the fox and the hound have some conflict, but in the end, they make up and become very good friends.
• Story continues below video
But in the original version, the fox leads the hound onto train tracks, where the dog promptly dies after being hit by a train. The owner of the dog, in despair, adopts another dog, and commands the dog to chase the fox. The dog does just that, chasing the fox until it is so exhausted that it too dies.
Finally, when the dog returns home after a long journey, his owner is put into an assisted living facility where dogs are not welcome, and the dog is eventually shot by the managers of the home. It is very sad, and most of the characters in this version of the story, written by Daniel P. Mannix, end up dying at some point.
• 'Tangled' tale
In the 1600s, Charles Perrault wrote the original version of "Little Red Riding Hood." Rather than the tale we’ve all heard before where Grandma is eaten by the wolf, the wolf actually flays Red Riding Hood's grandmother alive and then stores her blood in a wine bottle.
When Red shows up, the wolf offers her the blood for her to drink. Unknowingly, Red does exactly that, and then the wolf tells her what she's done before sending her back home to her family.
In one of the newer films created by Disney called “Tangled” (2010), Rapunzel is saved by the prince immediately after being recaptured by her mother, who is a fraud.
In the Grimm fairytale, Rapunzel accidentally asks her mother — who can only come into the tower by climbing Rapunzel's hair —why she weighs so much more than her prince, who has been secretly climbing her hair at night. Her mother is furious, and cuts Rapunzel’s hair off and sends her to fend for herself out in the real world after she's been cooped up her entire life in the tower.
The prince returns for his princess, but finds out that she isn’t there. In an attempt to save himself from being killed by the witch, the prince jumps from the tower, hoping to die in the fall. However, he is unlucky in his endeavors, and his eyes are stabbed out by the puncturing bushes beneath the tower.
Later on, however, Rapunzel cries into his eyes after the prince, who has been wandering in the wilderness, finds her again. Her tears bring back his sight, and yes, this time, they live happily ever after.
It is fun to research fairytales and find out the origins of many of these centuries-old stories. Fairytales aren’t always what they seem at first glance from our childhoods — or as happy and sweet as they appear in some Disney films. They are very ... enlightening!
Kaia McClure is a senior at Syracuse High and one of four girls in her family. Aside from reading and writing, she loves going boating and playing tennis. If you want to chat with her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.