Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Are there only a small number of plots in the world?

Right, lets start with fairytales.  I think it is fascinating that nearly every culture has a "Cinderella" story, the article I read said one of the earliest is from China, I think circa 800 AD (featuring a talking, prophetic fish - but lets not get into that...)  Does this tie into the idea that there are a limited number of plots in the world and no new material, merely interpretations?

Micah sent me a very funny email on the subliminal messages of the Disney princesses, all along the lines that beauty is their only skill, which is interesting as I don't remember it as being such a focal point of true fairytales, aside from Snow White's "skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood".  Also, very few Disney-fied happy endings, fairytales were originally intended for an adult audience and very dark, often without happy endings.  So what would our view of fairytales be like, had we not had a Disney-fish-eye on them?


FunkyMunky said...

It is true, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm didn't always have happy endings. For example, The Little Mermaid kills herself because she loses the prince (well, that's the story I have in a children's fairytale book I've had since childhood).

I think it's a shame that children today don't see/read the original tales. I heard (can't remember what I was watching or where I heard it) that Humpty Dumpty is being changed in Britain to be put back together in the end. Why?

Ideas in books and movies are definitely re-written with underlying tones of Cinderella or Belle or the Ugly Duckling. Although can you think of a fairytale that Saw could have originated from or be related to? ;p

Nic said...

In the original, she refuses to kill the prince and throws herself over the edge of the boat to dissolve into sea foam. But she is carried up by the daughters of the air and if she does good deeds for 300 years she will earn a soul, like a human. It's quite a religious story and her driving force seems to be more gaining a soul than the prince, quite a different take than modern versions.

I refuse to comment about Saw :P