Fracturing Fairy Tales (and Disney’s “Frozen”)


Hi, and thanks Ella for letting me drop by your blog.

I grew up absolutely loving classic fairy tales. The first movie I can remember seeing was Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I remember being delighted by Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, as well as terrified by Maleficent. (Yes, I’m ecstatic about the new live action movie with Angelina Jolie as the memorable villainess. The trailer looks awesome.) Someday, I swear I’m getting a dress that changes back and forth between pink and blue.

Hey, if Katniss Everdeen can have a white dress that catches fire and transforms into a black bird, why can’t I have a color-changing Aurora gown?

Disney fairy tales have come a long way since I watched Prince Phillip tackle thorns, Maleficent, and “all the powers of Hell” from the back seat of my parents’ car at the local Drive-In Theater. In recent years, “fractured fairy tales” have become more popular than a straightforward adaptation of classic fairy tales. These are retellings with a twist, sometimes subverting the story’s original themes to turn them on their head.

One method of creating a “fractured fairy tale” is a role reversal. Making the traditional villain the hero of the story can put a new spin on things. That’s what Disney has done with both Maleficent, and their recent animated success, Frozen.

In Hans Christian Anderson’s original The Snow Queen, the titular character is an enigmatic villainess who kidnaps Kai, a young boy. His best friend, Gerda sets off on an adventurous journey to rescue him. In Frozen, the Snow Queen isn’t a villain. She’s a misunderstood princess whose power has forced her into physically and emotionally isolating herself, making her seem metaphorically “cold” to her sister Anna (and everyone else).

Another way to “fracture” a classic fairy tale is to radically change the setting. That’s what I did with my own take on The Snow Queen, “Bitter Cold.” I moved the action from Nordic Europe to a steampunk version of the American Midwest. I also aged up the main characters Kai and Gerda, to young adults. They’re small children in Anderson’s original version.

What do Frozen and “Bitter Cold” have in common? A feisty, independent heroine, and an emphasis on unselfish, sacrificial love over the “romantic love at first sight” that so many older Disney movies idealized.

If you like a story with serious girl power, magic, romance and adventure, you would probably enjoy both.

Frozen is in theaters now.

“Bitter Cold” is available as part of Once Upon a Clockwork Tale (also featuring a story from Miss Ella Grey herself!)

Four fractured fairy tales, ranging from Ella’s homage to The Wild Swans, a dystopian take on Hansel & Gretel, a version of Jack & The Beanstalk with Norse gods, and my spin on The Snow Queen.

It could be the perfect gift for someone you know who loves reading a new twist on their favorite traditional tales. 🙂

Kat French
BLOG: thatdarnkat.com
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