Three Disney Fairytales with Horrific Origins #2

We recently published an article about the Disney fairytales that enchanted your childhood and the true stories that lie behind them. As you’ve surely seen, the true fairytale that served as inspiration for each Disney movie was more realistic (to put it lightly) and presented the situation in a completely different manner than Walt Disney did. Happy endings as we have come to know them were virtually nonexistent in the stories of the Grimm brothers (think of the Little Match Girl). Instead of happily ever after’s, the authors decided to show the events as they would have logically happened. Here are three more stories with similar scary inspiration:

1.     Cinderella

There are in fact several versions of Cinderella- the Grimm’s version, the Charles Perrault version and the Giambattista Basile version and in each of these versions events unfold differently. Disney decided to base their movie on the Perrault version (which coincidentally plays out almost the same). In the Grimm’s version, the prince covers the palace steps with tar in hope that his love does not flee but when he is left with just her shoe, he goes in search for her.

The two step-sisters of Cinderella, trying to win the prince over cut their toe and their heel so as to fit into the slipper (but the prince notices the blood thanks to Cinderella’s birds). Because of their deceit, the sisters get their eyes pecked out. In Giambattista Basile’s version, however, the story unravels completely different. Cinderella is convinced by her governess to murder her stepmother (by breaking her neck with a large wooden chest). The governess then marries Cinderella’s father and brings her seven daughters along- they all mistreat Cinderella and send her to the kitchen to work as a servant. From here on, the story ends as we all know it.

2.     Sleeping Beauty

Disney’s 1959 rendition of sleeping beauty was based on the Grimm’s version (the princess pricked her finger and fell in a deep sleep for a hundred years, during which countless men met their slow deaths in the brambles of the briar hedge while trying to “gaze upon” the princess- it is only after the hundred years that the brambles, turning into flowers, allow the prince passage to his princess) but there is another Sleeping Beauty tale which is gruesome. Sun, Moon and Talia was Giambattista Basile’s version and here, the princess is raped during her sleep and gives birth to twins.

One of the babies removes the enchanted splinter that was keeping the princess bewitched and she awakens. Once the queen hears about this, she decides to burn Talia alive, kill the babies and feed them to their father- this does not come to pass thanks to the king saving the day, so the queen dies instead of Talia.

3.     Snow White

The version we all know is based on the Grimm’s version (which is bloody in itself)- the hunter is ordered to bring the lungs and liver of Snow White but he brings those of a pig instead, and the Queen instantly devours them. She actually tries to kill Snow White three times: by pulling her corset so tight that she passes out, by brushing her hair with a poisoned comb and by poisoning the apple. For her cruelty, the Queen is put to in iron shoes and made to dance until she dies.

The original story however belongs yet again to Giambattista Basile and differs greatly. Snow White is cursed as a baby by a fairy to die before her seventh birthday- so as the girl turns seven, while her mother was combing her hair, it becomes lodged in the girl’s skull. Fearing she had killed her, the mother locks her in one of the caste chambers and gives the key to her brother telling him never to open the door.

His wife finds this key and stumbles across a young woman inside the glass coffin- believing her husband was keeping the girl locked there for sexual pleasures; she breaks the spell when she drags the girl out by the hair. She then cuts her hair, whips her, makes her a slave and beats her daily. As Snow White is sharpening the blade to kill herself, her uncle overhears her and after sending his wife away, he marries Snow off to a rich man.

Indeed, the stories were not so attractive to begin with- so much so that they wouldn’t have received such positive critique by the audience. But now you know how the original stories actually unfolded.

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