My pal Katina French is the queen of fractured fairy tales. She did her own take on The Snow Queen, and has this to say about Disney’s version.
FROZEN and Fractured Fairy Tales
blog post by Katina French
Once upon a time, movies based on fairy tales were “cleaned up” versions of the original stories.
I mean, it’s hard to sell fashion dolls with a movie where the heroine and her true love force her stepmom to dance herself to death in searing-hot iron shoes. Or where her stepsisters cut off their own toes in an attempt to fit the glass slipper. And lets not even get into the hot mess of what really woke up Sleeping Beauty. (In one common version, the princess slept through not just a kiss, but conception and childbirth. Of twins.)
So for decades, movies offered us a squeaky-clean, sanitized version of classic fairy tales. Which ended up leading to a whole host of other issues. In trying to excise some of the “questionable material” in the old tales, Walt & Co. ended up offering kids, especially girls, some material that in our modern context is just as questionable.
Like the idea that you should marry someone you just met. Or marry them just because they’re apparently a really good kisser.
With that in mind, I like the newer direction that Disney seems to be taking. Enchanted was arguably their first attempt at deconstructing their own formula. “Fractured fairy tales” like Shrek had been stealing their lunch money for a few years. So probably, it was inevitable that Disney would get savvy and start offering more modern interpretations of fairy tales.
Their latest animated adventure, Frozen, is very loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen.” The story is altered pretty much beyond recognition, but the new story continues the direction Enchanted and Brave started.
Instead of passive, submissive heroines, we’re getting young women who have some agency in their own lives. We’re also getting nods that romantic love, while wonderful, isn’t the end-all, be-all of female existence. It’s a more than welcome change.
As much as I loved classic Disney as a kid, I sort of wince as an adult and parent at some of the messages those movies send.
And I love The Snow Queen. In fact, I love it so much that I wrote my own “fractured fairy tale” version of it. You can find my take on The Snow Queen, “Bitter Cold,” in Once Upon a Clockwork Tale, along with steampunk retellings of The Wild Swans, Hansel & Gretel, and Jack & the Beanstalk by three other great, up and coming authors.
Like Frozen, it has a spunky, free-spirited heroine who goes on an epic adventure to keep everyone she loves from being stuck in eternal winter. It also has a flying mechanical reindeer, an icy villainess and more than a few dramatic explosions.
When it comes to fracturing fairy tales, the more the merrier, I say.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Twist a fairy tale into a healthy modern version.