TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic Abuse, Rape, and Lots of Violence Towards Women
Do you remember watching a Disney movie for the first time as a kid and wishing that your life could be a fairy tale? And by “wishing your life could be a fairy tale,” I obviously mean making BFFs with every single woodland creature, naturally.
Disney fairy tales were a huge part of many children’s early lives because, well, what is childhood without a little Disney? However, as we all got older, we started realizing, “Man, those fairy tales were actually super dark! Disney sure did clean up a lot, didn’t they?”
We all love talking about the differences between Disney and the actual tale, but what about those tales Disney hasn’t touched? I want to take a look into these and let me say, I’m not sure how Disney could really clean these up for a young audience. But they might just surprise us one day!
1. The Girl Without Hands
I’m pretty sure you can already figure out why Disney hasn’t adapted this. The title alone wouldn’t go over too well. This story starts out with a miller making a deal with the devil, and thanks to Supernatural, we all know dealing with a crossroads demon is not the wisest choice.
Well, in order to get wealth from the devil and have more than enough money to survive on, the miller says he’ll trade what’s behind his mill for money. Agreements are made, and the devil walks off happy.
What the miller doesn’t know is that he agreed to give the devil his daughter. When the devil returns three years later to claim her, he finds that she is still pure of heart with unblemished hands. This meant Mr. Devil couldn’t take her to be his own, so he informed her that he’d either kill her father or cut off her hands. She offered to have her hands chopped off, and then embarked on some pretty fun adventures.
She met a king, got married, and had a kid and then got separated from her husband whilst traveling. The devil worked some mischief to try and tear them apart by tampering with letters they exchanged. However, it all fell through and eventually the king found his wife, who now had normal hands thanks to god and they lived happily ever after.
2. The Hare’s Bride
This story must have been unnerving for the people in the Grimm days who loved and cared for stray animals! In this Brothers Grimm story, a young girl finds a hare and offers to take it back to its home. Sounds sweet, no?
The hare is very happy about it and a pretty swell companion. However, when they arrive at his home, the hare reveals to the girl that they are now married against her wishes. He becomes abusive and makes her cook endless meals for all of the animals near his hut who are going to be wedding guests.
The girl decides to come up with an escape plan and dresses up a straw doll to look like her. She then sneaks away while the food is cooking and the hare is none the wiser. When he comes into the kitchen to find out what’s taking so long, he gets mad at the girl (aka straw doll). When the doll doesn’t respond, he hits it so hard that it falls apart.
Since he still believes it is the girl he kidnapped, he thinks he murdered her and skulks off to figure out what to do next. Basically, he doesn’t give a fig for killing her, and it seems like he might just move on.
The girl gets away and is able to live a happy life.
3. The Singing Bone
Kings really have a thing for killing wild boar, don’t they. It is in so many fairy tales and even modern fantasy (ah Robert, you should’ve stayed away from that boar).
In this tale, a king brings in two knights who happen to be brothers. He tells the brothers that whoever kills the boar and brings it back will get to marry his daughter. The knights agree and set out to kill the boar.
The elder brother first goes to a bar to enjoy several drinks while the younger brother starts immediately. The young brother finds the boar, kills it, and makes his way back to the palace. However, Mr. Oldie comes out drunk from the tavern to see his little brother walking away, the boar in tow.
He doesn’t want his younger brother to marry the princess because he wants to so he kills his brother and buries him. He brings the boar back and gets his “reward” from the king.
Later, a shepherd is meandering around where the younger brother was buried and comes across the bones. Instead of thinking, “oh, this is creepy” or “let’s leave these bones alone” he decides to use one of the bones to make a flute. Thus the singing bone.
When he plays the new flute, it creates such a mournful, sorrowful sound that he thinks the king will really like it. He plays for the king, and the older brother’s sins are found out. The king orders the brother to be drowned and that’s that.
4. The Robber Bridegroom
This story starts yet again with a daughter being married off to a guy who has a lot of money and that can benefit the girl’s family. When the girl goes to visit her groom for dinner one night, she comes to his house and notices it is completely empty.
There does happen to be a bird and an old woman in the home, and they warn the girl that her soon-to-be husband is actually a cannibal. His goal is to marry young maidens and then kill and eat them. Creepy.
The groom comes home with a group of men, all of who are drunk, but the old woman hides the young woman behind a barrel to keep her safe. The bride sees the men drag another young woman in, and watches as they make her drink three different wines with the last making her heart “burst in two.”
They then show that they are indeed cannibals and begin to prepare and cook the dead woman. The bride-to-be sits and watches this whole thing absolutely terrified and when the men are all in a drunk stupor, she runs away. But first she picks up a finger of the dead woman and takes it with her.
That finger is what she uses to show that the man is a murdering cannibal fiend; thankfully everyone listens to her. All of the murderers are executed and the story concludes.
5. The Rose Elf
The stories I’ve featured thus far are all Brothers Grimm stories, but this one is a Hans Christian Anderson. And much like his other stories, it is rather dark and sad.
Now, don’t let the title fool you – this isn’t some adorable story about an elf. An elf does take part, but the entire story is morbid and includes death, murder, hints at rape, etc.
In the story, a young woman is in love with a man, but her brother doesn’t like it one bit. So, he kills her lover and buries him where no one can find him. He goes into her room after killing her boyfriend, and “laughs” at the foot of her bed. Some people say he could just be evilly laughing at the foot of her bed, but many literary scholars think it refers to something significantly worse.
After her brother buries the corpse, a rose elf falls into the murderer’s hair and sees everything that happens. She then reports back to the woman and tells her everything she saw. This, obviously, makes the woman really sad and she goes out looking for where her lover was buried.
When she finds him, she takes his head, kisses his lips, and takes the head home with her and buries it in a potted plant. (What the frig, lady?) She plants jasmine in the pot, and it eventually starts growing and producing absolutely gorgeous flowers. She kisses the flowers each and every day.
Her brother thinks she has gone crazy and he gets really, really angry about his perception of her mental state. However, she ends up staying alive for a while, without him killing her, and eventually dies a quiet death.
After she dies, the brother takes the plant to his room to keep and teensy spirits filter out and attack the brother with spears, killing him in his sleep. All out of revenge for the dead woman and her lover. He’s found soon after and so is the skull in the potted plant, showing that current dead dude killed another dude. The end.
Cripes! If Disney ever decides to take any of these and make them family friendly, they’ll certainly have quite the task of it. Based off of their other adaptations, I have a feeling they are certainly up to it.
Do you think Disney will ever touch these stories? Or are they too dark, even for Disney’s magic?