Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Once Upon a Time - Not a Review :-)

For today I'm doing something a little different. A story. Here's a story I grew up with. I hope you enjoy. Screencaps were taken from the Rolf Kauka movie Once Upon a Time

Mother Holle
The Brother's Grimm

Once upon a time there was a widow who had two daughters; one of them was beautiful and industrious, the other ugly and lazy.

The mother, however, loved the ugly and lazy one best, because she was her own daughter, and so the other, who was only her stepdaughter, was made to do all the work of the house, and was quite the Cinderella of the family.

Her stepmother sent her out every day to sit by the well in the high road, there to spin until she made her fingers bleed. Now it chanced one day that some blood fell on to the spindle, and as the girl stopped over the well to wash it off, the spindle suddenly sprang out of her hand and fell into the well.

She ran home crying to tell of her misfortune, but her stepmother spoke harshly to her, and after giving her a violent scolding, said unkindly, 'As you have let the spindle fall into the well you may go yourself and fetch it out.'

The girl went back to the well not knowing what to do, and at last in her distress she jumped into the water after the spindle.

She remembered nothing more until she awoke and found herself in a beautiful meadow, full of sunshine, and with countless flowers blooming in every direction.

She walked over the meadow, and presently she came upon a baker's oven full of bread, and the loaves cried out to her, 'Take us out, take us out, or alas! we shall be burnt to a cinder; we were baked through long ago.' So she took the bread-shovel and drew them all out.

She went on a little farther, till she came to a free full of apples. 'Shake me, shake me, I pray,' cried the tree; 'my apples, one and all, are ripe.' So she shook the tree, and the apples came falling down upon her like rain; but she continued shaking until there was not a single apple left upon it. Then she carefully gathered the apples together in a heap and walked on again.

The next thing she came to was a little house, and there she saw an old woman looking out, with such large teeth, that she was terrified, and turned to run away. But the old woman called after her, 'What are you afraid of, dear child? Stay with me; if you will do the work of my house properly for me, I will make you very happy. You must be very careful, however, to make my bed in the right way, for I wish you always to shake it thoroughly, so that the feathers fly about; then they say, down there in the world, that it is snowing; for I am Mother Holle.'

The old woman spoke so kindly, that the girl summoned up courage and agreed to enter into her service.

She took care to do everything according to the old woman's bidding and every time she made the bed she shook it with all her might, so that the feathers flew about like so many snowflakes. The old woman was as good as her word: she never spoke angrily to her, and gave her roast and boiled meats every day.

So she stayed on with Mother Holle for some time, and then she began to grow unhappy. She could not at first tell why she felt sad, but she became conscious at last of great longing to go home; then she knew she was homesick, although she was a thousand times better off with Mother Holle than with her mother and sister. After waiting awhile, she went to Mother Holle and said, 'I am so homesick, that I cannot stay with you any longer, for although I am so happy here, I must return to my own people.'

Then Mother Holle said, 'I am pleased that you should want to go back to your own people, and as you have served me so well and faithfully, I will take you home myself.'

Thereupon she led the girl by the hand up to a broad gateway. The gate was opened, and as the girl passed through, a shower of gold fell upon her, and the gold clung to her, so that she was covered with it from head to foot.

'That is a reward for your industry,' said Mother Holle, and as she spoke she handed her the spindle which she had dropped into the well.

The gate was then closed, and the girl found herself back in the old world close to her mother's house. As she entered the courtyard, the cock who was perched on the well, called out:

  Your golden daughter's come back to you.'
Then she went in to her mother and sister, and as she was so richly covered with gold, they gave her a warm welcome. She related to them all that had happened, and when the mother heard how she had come by her great riches, she thought she should like her ugly, lazy daughter to go and try her fortune.

So she made the sister go and sit by the well and spin, and the girl pricked her finger and thrust her hand into a thorn-bush, so that she might drop some blood on to the spindle; then she threw it into the well, and jumped in herself.

Like her sister she awoke in the beautiful meadow, and walked over it till she came to the oven. 'Take us out, take us out, or alas! we shall be burnt to a cinder; we were baked through long ago,' cried the loaves as before. But the lazy girl answered, 'Do you think I am going to dirty my hands for you?' and walked on.
Presently she came to the apple-tree. 'Shake me, shake me, I pray; my apples, one and all, are ripe,' it cried. But she only answered, 'A nice thing to ask me to do, one of the apples might fall on my head,' and passed on.

At last she came to Mother Holle's house, and as she had heard all about the large teeth from her sister, she was not afraid of them, and engaged herself without delay to the old woman.

The first day she was very obedient and industrious, and exerted herself to please Mother Holle, for she thought of the gold she should get in return. The next day, however, she began to dawdle over her work, and the third day she was more idle still; then she began to lie in bed in the mornings and refused to get up. Worse still, she neglected to make the old woman's bed properly, and forgot to shake it so that the feathers might fly about. So Mother Holle very soon got tired of her, and told her she might go.

The lazy girl was delighted at this, and thought to herself, 'The gold will soon be mine.' Mother Holle led her, as she had led her sister, to the broad gateway; but as she was passing through, instead of the shower of gold, a great bucketful of pitch came pouring over her.

'That is in return for your services,' said the old woman, and she shut the gate.

So the lazy girl had to go home covered with pitch, and the cock on the well called out as she saw her:

  Your dirty daughter's come back to you.'
But, try what she would, she could not get the pitch off and it stuck to her as long as she lived.

If you like this article, be sure to check this out:

Once Upon a Time - The classical movie based off of this very fairy tale

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Princess and the Pea - The Rarely Seen Classic

I just love finding rare treasures. Today I finally obtained a copy of the rarely seen animated movie The Princess and the Pea. Taking it's cues from Disney, the movie can't help but feel familiar, but kudos to Swan Productions for stretching out Hans Christian Anderson's two page story into this grand animated epic.

The songs are quite catchy and when they work, boy do they work. I could've done without some of the villain songs though. I get it, you're evil, blah blah blah.

The film does appear to be dated (it was produced in 2002), and I'm saying this with love. It looks like it would've done well alongside Rolf Kauka's Once Upon a Time in the 1970s, especially with some of the characterizations and visual gags.

Also, so much in so little time happens that it was kind of hard to follow along. It seemed as if they were trying so hard to expand on the original two page story that they now had the problem of too much story. Ultimately there is a focal point and it's in the film's two main leads. The pea isn't one of them.

Daria and Prince Rollo are the heart of the story and you can't help but root for them. I love Daria. If Disney's Giselle wasn't a composite of several Disney Princesses, I would've said that they borrowed Giselle's look from Daria, but Daria in turn seems to have borrowed a lot of traits from Don Bluth's Thumbelina and Anastasia as well as Richard Rich's Odette from Swan Princess.

It is a complete shame that this movie is not widely available. It won awards and stuff. While it doesn't make any great statements about anything, it is enjoyable family fun and tear jerky romantic. Exclusively purchased right here.

If you liked this article check this out:

Tangled - A True Return to Disney Classics
Tiana and Charlotte - Princess Evolution
Little Mermaid - Gay Allegory
Hans Christian Andersen's Thumbelina
Anastasia (Family Fun Edition w/Bartok the Magnificent)
The Swan Princess (Special Edition)
Once Upon a Time

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Adventures of Pinocchio - An Italian Animated Masterpiece

This charming 1972 film, directed by Giuliano Cenci is a very strict adaptation of Carlo Collodi's original fairy tale. The original fairy tale seems to have had it's darker tones watered down with it's endless barrage of adaptations. Disney's adaptation being the most popular. Cenci's version of the tale of the wooden boy stays very close to the original text. Pinocchio is very much a brat that you grow to love. An anti-hero if you will. His journey mimics that of the greatest of odysseys or even that of Alice from Alice in Wonderland due to it's allegorical situations.

The world Pinocchio inhabits in this animated version is far from being cartoony or full of childlike wonderment. It's a cold muted world that Pinocchio lives in where he is betrayed by those he thinks are his closest friends and where good doesn't always prevail. He goes through a barrage of emotions that send him spiraling from hell and back again and back again. If he weren't made of wood, the movie would only be half as long as it is. At one point he is hung from a tree by his neck and has his life threatened more than once.

The movie is out of print and hard to find. Oddly, I found the ultra rare Italian version by accident and found the english version on youtube after a long time. I have posted it here so all could enjoy this obscure but incredibly inspiring movie. 

Check it out here:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tangled: A True Return to Disney Classics

 Tangled continues in Disney's animation legacy of timeless classics. Being Disney's first fairy tale outing done in CGI, it's easy to have doubts. The marketing for this film didn't really do Tangled any favors either. Originally titled Rapunzel, the name change to Tangled and the shift of focus onto the male co-star Flynn Ryder in the merchandising was done as a way to try to get more boys into the theater. Despite this faulty marketing move, Tangled is very much Rapunzel's story and Rapunzel is the star of this instant classic. Sticking very close to the roots of the original German Rapunzel fairy tale, Tangled's story is one about overprotective parental figures and the need to want to break free. Mandy Moore voices Rapunzel and sings for her. Yup, this a musical. This is a big grand musical in the classical Disney style with songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. Alan Menken was the one who brought Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Enchanted to life; to name only a few. Moore really gets to the heart of Rapunzel and truly owns the part, but the real surprise is Donna Murphy as our main villain Mother Gothel. A true hero is measured by it's main villain and Mother Gothel does not disappoint.

Every great Disney classics needs supporting characters. What would Mary Poppins be with Bert and the Banks' Children. What would Belle be without the enchanted objects. Snow White is just a lost girl in the forest without those dwarves.

An amazing supporting cast of characters that include Rapunzel's color changing chameleon companion Pascal, the scene stealing horse Maximus, and the main male co-star Flynn Ride accompany Rapunzel in her quest. Pascal and Maximus are animal companions but have more in common with Meeko and Percy from Pocohantas than Sebastian and Flounder from Little Mermaid for the fact that they don't talk. While they are without speech, they are fully fleshed out characters and you know exactly what they are trying to convey with their sometimes hillarious reactions. Maximus was especially a personal favorite of mine. Zachary Levi from the TV show Chuck voices and sings for Flynn Rider and it's easy to see why Disney would choose to up sale him in the TV ads. I would have to say that he's one of the most fleshed out Disney heroes since Aladdin.

Tangled is a big grand epic Disney musical done in the classic sense with the modern rendering of CGI animation. This is for sure to be seen for years and years to come and I can't wait to include Tangled in my Disney Collection. I highly recommend this one.

If you like this article, check these links out:

Tangled [+Digital Booklet]
A digital copy of the awesome soundtrack for just 3.99

Tiana and Charlotte: Princess Evolution
A look at the friendship of these two new favorite Disney Women.

Disney's The Little Mermaid: Gay Allegory
A cautionary tale.