Have you ever wondered how Disney came up with such wonderful stories? Even their oldest films still resonate with children and adults to this day.
For the most part, Disney stories are adaptations of classic fairy tales and novels from decades and sometimes centuries ago. And many of these, as it turns out, are actually horrifying, depressing, and just plain weird.
Copper and Tod, a hound and a fox, grow up living right next to each other. The unlikely pair struggle to preserve their friendship, despite their emerging instincts and the surrounding peer pressure demanding them to be enemies, but they remain best friends forever.
Let’s just rip off the bandaid, and jump right in with what may be the most distressing thing you read today.
In the original novel by Daniel P. Mannix, Tod the Fox causes the death of the Hunters favorite dog. Copper, his other dog, is then trained to ignore all other foxes but Tod as the Hunter seeks revenge.Despite the fact that the Hunter manages to kill two sets of Tods mates and kits, Tod always escapes with his life.
Frustrated, the Hunter makes Copper pursue Tod without mercyuntil Tod collapses and dies from exhaustion. A few years later, the Hunter must move to a nursing home, so he kills Copper with a shotgun.
Everybody dies and no one is happy.
Mowgli, an orphaned baby abandoned in the jungle is befriended by Baloo the Bear and Bagheera the Panther, who raise him as their own. After a man-eating tiger comes to the jungle, Mowgli must seek shelter in a human village. When he finally reaches it, he instantly falls in love with a human girl, and decides to stay in the village.
The original Jungle Book is actually a short story by Rudyard Kipling, and Disneys version isnt exactly faithful to the original plotline. When Mowgli returns to human society, hes not greeted with open arms. Hes re-banished to the jungle, and the one family who showed him kindness is tortured.
So what does Mowgli do? He asks Hathi the Elephant for help. In the movie, Hathi is a kind, forgetful old Elephant General who looks after Mowgli for a bit. In the book, however, hes a bloodthirsty old elephant gleefully seeking revenge on humans for wounding him in a spike pit.
So he, Bagheera, Mowgli and a pack of wolves destroys the entire village. All of it. Completely destroy it. They dont even leave the bear necessities.
In the Disney-fied version of The Little Mermaid, Ariel wants nothing more than to be a human and marry her prince, so she makes a deal with the sea witch to gain legs but lose her voice. As sea witches tend to do, Ursula betrays her and tries to steal Ariels man, but at the last moment, Eric and Ariel are reunited, marry, and live happily ever after.
Hans Christian Andersens version wasnt quite so sweet.
No, after having her tail split by the evil Sea Witchs potion, the Little Mermaid swims ashore, passes out, and wakes up in searing pain. The Prince finds her amusing, so he takes her back to the palace, where she dances for himstill in searing, hot-knife pain, but she grins and bears it.
Of course, the Little Mermaid soon discovers that the Prince is going to marry another woman, and if he does, shell dissolve into sea foam, because mermaids have no souls. Her only chance is to convince him to marry her…which she cant, without her voice.
The Sea Witch gives the Little Mermaid another chance, and tells her that in order to survive as a human (because she can never be a mermaid again), she has to kill her prince and let his blood pour over her feet. Well, she doesnt, and consequentlydissolves into sea foam, trapped in limbo.
In the 1950 Disney movie, Cinderellas stepmother locks her in the attic before Prince Charming arrives so that he never learns her true identity, and her stepsisters are free to try on the glass slipper. Of course, Cinderella escapes her family’s cruely, and then she and her Prince live happily ever after. Her evil stepsisters just kind of have to deal with it, and Cinderella forgives them. Yay!
In the Grimms Fairy Tales version? Not so much.
Instead of just trying to shove their big feet into the golden slipper, the ugly stepsisters actually cut off parts of their feet. One of them cuts off her toes, and the other slices off her heel. Oh, and Cinderella certainly did NOT forgive and forget. At her wedding, she has her little birds fly down from Heaven and peck out her sisters eyes.
Driven from her home by an evil stepmother, Snow White is taken in by seven dwarves. The Evil Queen finds her pretty quickly and tricks her into eating a poisoned apple. Snow White falls into an enchanted sleep, is awakened by Prince Charming (not the same guy married to Cinderella, he swears!) and they live happily ever after.
In the original Grimms version, however, Snow White is much trickier. She invites her stepmother to her wedding to Prince Charming, and then gives her a pair of hot iron shoesand forces the evil stepmother to dance herself to death in front of the wedding party.
According to Disney, Rapunzel lives in a tower with her super controlling mom, Mother Gothel, but all she wants is to go out and explore. When a handsome, charming fugitive, Flynn Rider, discovers her tower and helps her escape, the two explore the kingdom and fall in love. She finds out that shes actually a princess, they get married, and you guessed it live happily ever after.
In the original story, however, Rapunzel and her Prince arent so lucky. Or clever, for that matter.
The Prince and Rapunzels secret signal to each other is when she dangles her hair out the window of her tower. Subtle! So when Dame Gothel finds out that theyve been secretly meeting and have fallen in love, she cuts off Rapunzels hair and uses it to lure the Prince up the tower.
When he realizes hes been tricked, he jumps from the towerand breaks his fall on a bed of thorns with his EYES, and is blinded. The end.
In this Disney retelling of actual history, Pocahontas, a strong-willed Native American princess, meets and falls in love with a British colonialist, John Smith when his ship discovers her land. When things get ugly between the Native Americans and colonists, as things tend to do, Pocahontas saves Johns life before her father can execute him, and their love brings peace to the two groups. John Smith returns to England, without Pocahontas, but the two remember each other fondly.
As you already know, Pocahontas is a real historical figure. Of course, Disney turned her story into a pleasant tale about the power of love, which isnt really how it went down in real life.
In reality, Pocahontas was about 10 or 12 when the colonists arrived, wheres John Smith was in his mid 30s. They were never romantically involved, though some evidence from his diaries point to the fact that he raped and impregnated her.
John Smith returned to England, and Pocahontas was kidnapped, where she was forcibly converted to Christianity, married to another Englishman named John Rolfe, and had a son. At some point, she visited London and was exhibited as an example of a civilized Native American, but before she could ever return home, she died of “unknown causes” in her 20s.
History is never what Disney wants it to be.
As one of Disneys more progressive characters, Mulan disguises herself as a man to take her elderly fathers place in the army. Her spiritual guardian, Mushu, helps her along the way, and together with a handsome general, she becomes a strong warrior and returns home to her proud family, having won his heart and the war.
The original story is actually an ancient Chinese ballad, “Hua Mulan.” In the ballad, Mulan does in fact return home safely. However, an addition to “Hua Mulan” finds Mulan returning to a broken family. Her only option is to become a concubine, but instead of falling into prostitution, she commits suicide.
Not entirely Disney friendly.
In this Disney classic, after Simbas father, Mufasa, is murdered by his uncle, Scar, Simba is manipulated into thinking it was his fault, and flees in exile. Years later, he returns to reclaim his kingdom, forcing Scar to admit his guilt. Then Simba mates with the love of his life, Nala.
While the story isnt based on a fairy tale exactly, it is inspired by Shakespeares Hamlet, or as it is actually titled The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. When the word tragedy appears in the title, you know its not going to be the same happy love story as The Lion King.
Prince Hamlet (Simba) is instructed to enact revenge against his uncle Claudius (Scar), for murdering King Hamlet (Mufasa), seizing the throne, and marrying his brothers widow. Oh, and by the way, Hamlet is instructed in this revenge by the ghost of his dead father, so everyone thinks hes totally insane (which is up for debate).
Anyway, by the end of the play, everyone is dead; Hamlets love, Ophelia, commits suicide after Hamlet accidentally murders her father; he watches his mother die by drinking poisoned wine; and Hamlet is stabbed by a poisoned blade and dies himself, but not before killing his uncle with the same poisoned sword.
Its the circle of life?
The 1959 Disney movie finds Princess Aurora in a magical slumber on her 16th birthday, after the evil fairy Maleficent curses her at birth because she was snubbed by the King. Prince Phillip, her true love, battles Maleficent with the Sword of Truth and the Shield of Virtue. Then he awakens Aurora with true loves kiss, breaking the spell, and the two live happily ever after.
The official Disney answer is that Sleeping Beauty is based on The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood by Charles Perrault, and Little Briar Rose, by the Brothers Grimmboth of which were based on a 17th century Italian fairytale, Sun, Moon, and Talia, by Giambattista Basile.
In Sun, Moon, and Talia, the King is unable to wake Talia, because a splinter is stuck in her finger.So does he splash a little cold water on her face and shake her until she wakes up? Wellno. He rapes her and leaves.
Talia is awakened by the nudging of her NEWBORN TWIN BABIES, Sun and Moon, one of whom mistakes her finger for a nipple and sucks the splinter out.
The King triumphantly returns to Talia, promising to send for them laterbut whoops he forgot to mention hes already married. Sun, Moon, and Talia are brought to the palace, where the jealous Queen tries to murder them all but is thwarted by the King.
Talia marries the (rapist!) King, and they live happily ever after.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
According to Disney, Quasimodo, a deformed bell ringer, and Captain Phoebus, a handsome guard, rescue the beautiful gypsy Esmerelda from execution, and Quasimodo comes to accept that Phoebus and Esmerelda are in love. He is accepted by the outside world and applauded for his heroic actions.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was written by Victor Hugo also known for Les Miserables who didnt exactly write happy, sappy love stories.
In the original novel, Quasimodo is angry that Esmerelda doesnt love him back so angry, in fact, that he betrays her to Frollo, who has her hung in the public square.
After her death, Quasimodofeels pretty guilty, so he throws Frollo off the cathedral and sneaks into Esmereldas grave. He then curls himself around her dead body and slowly starves to death. Their bodies are discovered 18 months later, and when an attempt is made to separate the two, Quasimodos bones turn to dust.
Disney’s Hercules, the mortal son of Zeus and Hera, grows up and defeats Hades plans to rule Olympus, but the love of his life, Megara, is sacrificed. Hercules travels to the Underworld to save her soul, and traps Hades there. He is rewarded for his good deeds by becoming a God, but wishing to stay with Megara on earth, relinquishes his divinity and remains mortaland (say it with me!) they live happily ever after.
The Greek myth of Heracles (Romanized as Hercules) shows him as the son of Zeus, but not Hera, Zeus wife. Because he is the product of an infidelity, Hera hates Heracles and makes his life miserable.
Hera drives him to the point of such madness that he murders his wife, the princess Megara and all of their children. Yep. Murders them all. Bless my soul, Herc was on a roll?
After the little wooden puppet, Pinocchio, is brought to life by the Blue Fairy, he faces the trials and tribulations of growing up. When his loving father Geppetto tries to rescue him from the cursed Pleasure Island, he is swallowed by a whale. Pinocchio, determined to rescue his father, is also swallowed by the whale, and helps them escape. The Blue Fairy transforms him into a real boy for being brave, truthful, and unselfish, and…they live happily ever after.
In the original 19th century Pinocchio story, by Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio had a much longer way to go before he became brave, truthful, and unselfish. He was kind of a jerk: as soon as Geppetto carves him, Pinocchio runs away, and when hes found by a local policeman, Geppetto is thrown in jail for negligence. Pinocchio then goes back to Geppettos house…
…where he “accidentally kills the storys version of Jiminy Cricket.
Once Geppetto is released, he sells his only coat to send Pinocchio to schoolso Pinocchio promptly skips out and sells his schoolbook for theater tickets.Later, after hes turned into a donkey and survives an attempted drowning, hes “saved” by a school of fish who devour his flesh and leave his wooden bones. And when Geppetto is eaten by The Terrible Dogfish, he languishes inside its belly for two years before Pinocchio rescues him.
Aladdin and The Forty Thieves
In the third movie of Disneys Aladdin franchise, when the 40 thieves disrupt Aladdin and Jasmine’s nuptials in an attempt to steal the Hand of Midas, Aladdin learns that his long-lost father is alive. His search reveals that his father, Cassim, is the King of Thieves himself, and Aladdin rescues him from his own greed. Aladdin and Jasmine live happily ever after, and despite being wanted for his crimes, Cassim escapes and travels the world with Iago.
While the source material for the first Aladdin movie is pretty tame, the original story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves gets pretty dark. Cassim isnt the King of Thieves hes just a greedy man who gets trapped in their treasure trove and murdered by the thieves when hes discovered.
He is then dismembered, with his body parts displayed outside the cave as a deterrent for further unwanted visitors. His brother brings his body home, and has a skilled tailor stitch it back together so his family will think he died of natural causes.
When Elsa accidentally reveals her secret magical ice powers to their kingdom, she runs away and sends her kingdom into an endless Winter. Her sister Anna goes after her, saving the kingdom and their relationship by sacrificing herself out of love for her sister. She is brought back to life, and the two live happily ever after (and Anna gets to be with her sweetheart).
Admittedly, Frozen was very progressive for Disney even though there was a happily ever after, the romance wasnt the main plot point. But the original Hans Christian Andersen story, The Snow Queen, was still pretty dark for a kids story.
The two protagonists arent sisters, theyre childhood best friends: Gerda and Kai. One day, the Snow Queen appears to Kai, and he gets a shard of troll-mirror in his eye and heart, which causes him to see everything good as bad and ugly. That Winter, he hitches his sled to a mysterious white sleigh, which is revealed to be driven by the Snow Queen. She kisses him twiceonce to numb him, and a second time to make him forget about Gerda and his family.
Gerda sets out on a long quest to rescue Kai, and saves him with a kisswhich may or may not have given him PTSD seeing as the last two kisses he received paralyzed and brainwashed him.
The 1953 Disney movie shows Wendy Darling and her brothers, George and Michael, whisked away to Neverland with Peter Pan, where they meet the Lost Boyschildren like them who never left Neverland. The Darlings, the Lost Boys and Peter Pan all fight the evil pirate Captain Hook, but when Wendy and her brothers miss their parents and invite Peter and the Lost Boys to come live with them, the Lost Boys and Peter Pan decide theyd rather stay in Neverland. The Darlings return home to London, safe and sound.
The Disney movie is pretty faithful to the original play by J.M. Barrie; there are a few different plot points, however.
In the original play, the Lost Boys do come live with the Darlings, and Wendy returns to Neverland every Spring to visit Peter, until she grows up and cant see him anymore. But the biggest difference between Disney’s tale and the original is what happens to Lost Boys when they get too old to live in Neverland anymore…
Peter Pan murders them.
Yes, when Lost Boys seem like theyre starting to grow up, which is against the rules, Peter Pan has to thin them out.
This whole Neverland thing is starting to sound a bit like a cult
When Belle offers to take her father’s place, imprisoned in the Beast’s enchanted castle, the Beast accepts, and she comes to live with him. The two gradually warm to each other, eventually falling in love and breaking the spell, returning the Prince to his human form.
The original 18th century fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont is actually quite close to the Disneyfied version, with the exception of a few details Belles father was once rich, but at the time of the story is in major debt, and the fact that Belle had two wicked sisters. The sisters were very jealous of Belles luxurious life with the Beast, and when she was allowed to travel home for a week, they tried to make her stay with them longer so that when Belle returned, the Beast would be so angry with her that he would eat her alive.
The Princess and the Frog
This Disney movie about a plucky, hardworking waitress who is turned into a frog after trying to help a Prince, is based on the Brothers Grimm tale, “The Frog Prince.” In it, a frog appears to a princess and tells her that he has been transformed into a frog, and needs her help to become a human once more.
So far, we’re right on track for a sweet, happy ending, right? Wrong.
The princess, instead of kissing him, throws the frog against the wall in utter disgustat which point the spell is broken, and he is revealed to be an injured, but handsome prince. Oh, and in some versions, instead of just being thrown against a wall, the frogs head is chopped off, or his skin is burned.
Orphaned after his mother dies on his 1st birthday and his father is killed by the king ape Kerchak, Tarzan is adopted by the female ape Kala, and raised not knowing of his human heritage. He eventually discovers the truth, and teaches himself the way of men. He then meets Jane and Clayton, and despite the fact that Clayton pursues her, Jane falls in love with Tarzan.
This is where the Disneyfied version’s happy ending goes right out the window: in the original novel, before Jane can admit her feelings, she leaves for America to pay off her fathers debts by marrying another man, not knowing that Tarzan has followed her.
He confesses his undying love for her, and Jane tells him she feels the samebut by then, shes already engaged to Clayton because once you’ve put the deposit down on the Church, you’re stuck.
It is then revealed that Tarzan is Claytons cousin and rightful heir to his estate and propertyincluding Jane (because in the 19th century, women are things). But rather than claiming Jane and Claytons estate as his own, Tarzan chooses to stay silent, renouncing his heritage for the sake of Janes perceived happiness with Clayton. You know, despite the fact that Jane told Tarzan she loves him, not Clayton.
OK, let’s finish with one that actually breaks the rules for this list. Here’s a movie that’s based on an idea that’s reallymore kid-friendly than how it ended up being interpreted. Though the source material is still pretty bizarre…
Ask anyone what Alice in Wonderland is really about, and youre bound to get an answer about a girl who takes a trip down the rabbit hole, finding herself in a surreal world where animals talk, she eats some mushrooms, meets a hyper white rabbit, and a stoned caterpillar smoking a lot of hookah.
There will probably be some winking and nudging involved. But despite the fact that Alice in Wonderland is often seen as a metaphor for rampant drug use and its consequent hallucinations, the trippy-dippy story is actually the squarest story ever.
Lewis Carroll was the pen name of a super conservative Anglican deacon and mathematics professor, Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. When he wrote Alice in Wonderland in the 1860s, 100 years before it became a symbol of counterculture, the radical ideas happening were about complex mathematics.
Yep, thats right: math.
And Carroll, being a mathematician, thought the new-fangled mathematics would lead us all right to Hell!
You see, up until the mid-1800s, math was pretty straightforward. It was grounded in the real world, where 2 bananas + 3 bananas = 5 bananas. But new ideas about math were being introduced, like imaginary numbers and Carroll thought that was absolutely bananas.
So he wrote a book set in a world that followed only the abstract laws of mathematics, in order to point out how totally insane it all was. Alice represented a Euclidian mathematician, and Wonderland represented the university where Carroll worked, the Christ Church College at Oxford.
Read more: http://twentytwowords.com/how-disney-stories-actually-end/
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