Friday, 20 April 2012

To Happily Ever After or Not to Happily Ever After?

To Happily Ever After or Not to Happily Ever After?

It’s a tough call. How should a fairy tale end? My intellectual fairy tale loving side, tells me it should be a blend, the perfect balance of happily ever after, and dark cruelty.  That the rules of traditional fairy tales should be upheld and adhered to, that at the end of Cinderella, both cinder and her fella, should live happily, after watching her step-mother and ugly step-sitters dance themselves to death in furnace heated iron shoes.

However, I am a child of my generation and I’ve been weaned on animated princesses singing and dancing their way into the arms of their prince’s, after which their evil step-mother’s personality flips 180º, and all live Happily Ever After.

I’ve spent many years teetering on the edge, half loving the Disney rendered tales, and half resenting them for their over sentimentality and vigorous editing.  However, it was only when watching their latest fairytale adaptation of Rapunzel, Tangled, that this uneasy feeling really manifested itself. At the end of the film, the (typically fairy tale) anti-hero Flynn is faced with the choice of living or freeing Rapunzel from her (typically fairy tale) evil mother, by cutting off her enchanted hair and killing its regenerative properties. I felt myself physically moving forward in my seat with bated breath. Will he die? Have the Disney Corporation finally worked out what fairy tales are?

Then, I looked down into the eyes of two very concerned children, my children, and panicked. My parental mind went into protection mode screaming; NO! They can’t possibly kill him!  Please be a “Disney” ending.

I then realised there’s room for both. After all, if we don’t know the fluffy coated, nauseating, jolly capers of commercial fairy tales, how will we ever really appreciate the darker more authentic tales?

And just one more thing, if we were all weaned on the darker versions, we would we go from there?

Disney's Little Mermaid's Happily Ever After & My Visualisation.


  1. Great post.

    I really liked the version of The Little Mermaid when she refuses to kill the prince and dies but gains her soul. It is a much more powerful ending, but I agree with you. It's not the one I want my little kids to see.

  2. HI MaryAnn, Your right that's a much stronger ending, and BC (before children)I vowed to only read my kids the original versions. It's funny how your perspective changes!