Cinderella Needs Your Thoughts and Feelings (and so do we)

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical Cinderella has been enchanting audiences for generations. Julie Andrews brought the musical to television in 1957, followed by Lesley Ann Warren in 1965 and Brandy in 1997. Our Fairy Tales in Television project is looking for fans of version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical willing to be interviewed about their experiences and opinions of these Cinderellas as part of Dr. Jill Rudy’s research on the impact of these adaptations. We are in special need …

Wingless Fairies and Wheelchair Mermaids

It’s a dangerous world that birthed our fairy tales. Before the advent of modern science, disease and disaster all too easily left children disabled or dead. Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm lost three siblings in infancy and Wilhlem himself dealt with ill health (scarlet fever, asthma) for much of his adult life. It is no wonder, then, that disabled characters feature prominently in popular fairy tales. Snow White befriends dwarves. Rapunzel’s prince loses his eyes to a thornbush. Cinderella’s stepsisters hack …

Goldilocks, Cinderella, and now Ariel: Meghan Markle’s History of Framing Her life Through Fairy Tale

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview earlier this month was a trifecta testimony to the power of fairy tales, narrative, and enduring influence of television. Oprah Winfrey led the CBS-broadcast special that reached over 17 million US viewers-roughly 19% of the US population-and garnered seven million dollars. Because the programming was broadcast during America’s evening, most of Britain was asleep and woke up to pre-formed opinions from across the pond. The interview centered around how the couple felt voiceless before …

Five Things Mulan Did Wrong that Raya did (Mostly) Right  

This post contains light spoilers for Raya and the Last Dragon. Proceed with caution.   The dragon-worshipping nation of Kumandra finds itself entirely lacking in dragons after Sisu, the last of her kind, sacrifices herself to defeat the Droon, a malevolent black force that turns people to stone. Soon after, Kumandra is fractured into five feuding nations, each named after a dragon body part. All cool body parts like Talon and Fang, naturally. No one lives in the land of Pancreas. …

Coloring Magic: Why No New Adaptation Can Replace the 1939 Wizard of Oz

Last month, New Line Cinema announced an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz directed by Nicole Kassel. Kassel stated that while “the 1939 musical is part of my DNA, I am exhilarated and humbled by the responsibility of re-imagining such a legendary tale.”There have been many film, stage, and television adaptations of the Wizard of Oz both before and after the 1939 film starring Judy Garland. L. Frank himself Baum brought several black-and-white adaptations of …

When Fairy Tale Grows Up: How Shirley Temple Failed to Make a Career off Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are tightly entwined with children’s media, so it’s to be expected that the most famous child star of all time, Shirley Temple, would have connections to them. In 1939, Temple was chosen to present Walt Disney with an Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (feat. seven mini Oscars alongside the big one). Her presentation speech is notable for birthing the misconception that Snow White’s prince is named Ferdinand when she mentions Ferdinand the Bull alongside Snow …

A Valentine’s Day Look at Interspecies Romance in Fairy Tale

Life has never been easy for lovers in fairy tales, where poison apples and conniving stepmothers get in the way of a perfectly wholesome elopement. But most problems pale in face of one stock love trope: interspecies romance. When one lover is a mermaid, hedgehog, or dragon, they usually need to take on a human form to kick off a relationship in the first place, and that deception creates tension until the inevitable reveal.Adaptations of such tales carry mixed messages …

Tablet, Tablet, In My Hand, Who’s the Fairest In the Land?

Life was rough before cell phones. Mystery princesses dashed off from the ball without leaving a number to get in contact with them later. Children wandered off into the woods to be gobbled down by wolves and witches without texting you to let you know they’d be out past curfew. And how are you supposed to keep up on the latest goings-on in the kingdom without a live newsfeed? Fortunately for fairy tale characters, modern media works in technological cheats …

Swans and Nutcrackers: When Ballet Becomes Fairy Tale

In a previous post, we discussed how theater is one of the most exclusive arts made more accessible by television. Ballet also calls auditoriums its natural habitat, but works its way onto the small screen, either as a straight broadcast of a performance or by incorporating popular ballet stories into fairy tale story franchises. Ballet is a wordless art and audiences can only catch bare hints of plot from a paper program and pantomimed dialogue. Therefore it’s important for the …

The Wonder in Your Living Room

  Theater might be the most exclusive of all performance arts, with the possible exception of ballet. Tickets cost money, yes, and that’s one barrier to access, but more important is location. Even if you can afford a ticket, you’ll need to travel to a theater mecca like New York or London, watch for a touring company to swing by the nearest large city, or wait for the rights to die out so your community theater can put it on. …