Chances are you grew up listening to a wide variety of fairytales and matter who you are or how old you are, you’ve definitely seen at least one Disney film (however if you do know somebody who hasn’t please let me know… I’d like to have a very serious talk with them). But did you know that pretty much all Disney movies are just adaptations of those fairy tales we used to listen to? And by adaptations I mean that Walt took those old fairy tales and CHANGED THEM COMPLETELY BECAUSE THEY WERE ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN TOLD TO CHILDREN EVER.
Don’t believe me? Take a scroll through this article and see for yourself! And allow me apologise in advance for destroying any fond childhood memories you may have, but it’s time you learnt the cold hard the truth (Sorry not sorry).
We all loved Hercules, from the tale of the underdog to the sassy gospel numbers, and the story is pretty sweet too. All Herc wants to do is to “find where he belongs” which is back up on Mount Olympus surrounded by his two loving parents and the rest of his happy family of Gods and Goddess’, which eventually, he does. Truly, truly heartwarming.
However, the original tale of Hercules involves a few subtle differences. For example, Hercules’ dear old dad Zeus had a bit of a wandering lightning bolt. He was constantly playing around behind Hera’s back, and one day played a little too much with a mortal named Alkmene, who is Herc’s real Mom, hence the whole “demi-God” situation. Well as you can imagine Hera eventually found out about Zeus’ sinful little bundle of joy and as any scorned woman would, vowed to seek little Hercules out and utterly destroy him. Yikes. Not such a happy family afterall eh?
2. Beauty & the Beast
Beauty & the Beast is my absolute favourite of all the Disney movies. I was completely obsessed with Bell and the Beast (and if I’m being honest, still completely am), so you can imagine how big my therapy bill was when I found out the true story of Beauty & The Beast. Are you ready for this? No, I wasn’t either.
First of all, “Beauty” has 6 brothers an 5 sisters who move from the city to the countryside in order to live a more “frugal” lifestyle (they haaaaate it), however Beauty adapts to her new life much easier and takes care of the cooking and cleaning etc. Anyway, Beauty’s father goes off into the city to make some money and she asks for a rose (starting to sound familiar, right?) WELL, he gets captured by the Beast, and actually trades his own freedom for Beauty’s (instead of it being her own self-sacrifice), the Beast adorns Beauty in jewels and opulence, she leaves to see her family and her sisters get so jealous they try and stop Beauty from returning to the Beast so that he will get really mad and kill her. Turns out, when Beauty does eventually return, she finds the Beast dying of a broken heart, which is when she realises she loves him, they get married and he turns into a handsome prince (But with brains too ladies!) and they live Happily Ever After… apart from Beauty’s jealous sisters who are turned to stoned and put in the castle garden’s so they have to look upon Beauty’s fabulous new life forever.
There’s not really a massive difference between the original Collodi version and its Disney counterpart. The most harrowing difference would probably be the piece of wood Pinocchio is carved from was actually given to Geppetto by a carpenter who discovered that every time he tried to carve the wood himself it screamed. Pinocchio was a lot more an asshole in the original tale too, and didn’t really care about anyone but himself, which he made known very often. He also throws a hammer at Jimminy Cricket and kills him because he didn’t want to hear any of his warnings about how much of a asshole he was being, so, yeah, can kind of understand why Walt Disney changed the things he did.
4. Snow White
The version we all know and love tells the tale of a beautiful young girl with a wicked step-mother… however in Grimm’s original 1812 tale the Wicked Queen is actually Snow White’s mother, and if that isn’t already scarier then I don’t know what is. Also, when the Queen sends the Huntsman out to kill Snow White, she requests that he bring back Snow White’s kidneys and lungs so that she may feat upon them. The prince is a bit of a creep in this version too, as he stumbles upon Snow’s dead body and, I quote “He carts it off to play with.” play with??? What fresh hell?? Luckily a servant trips while carrying her and the piece of apple lodged in her throat falls out and so she and the prince fall madly in love and get married… talk about a lucky escape.
However, the Queen well and truly gets her comeuppance when the Prince forces her to wear red-hot iron shoes which she is then forced to dance in until she falls down dead. Beautiful.
5. Hansel & Gretel
I know what you’re thinking; how can it possibly get worse than two kids being abandoned by their stepmother in a forest where a cannibal witch resides? I’ll tell you how; The Devil. In an early French version entitled “The Lost Children” the witch is the Devil, and the Devil wants to bleed them on a sawhorse (fun!!). The Children pretend they don’t know how to get on the sawhorse, so the wife of the Devil (who actually tried to help them earlier on) shows them and they slit her throat, steals the Devil’s money and run off.
6. Hunchback of Notre Dame
As if the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame wasn’t sad enough (and if you didn’t think it was sad you’re lying), the original Victor Hugo classic was even worse. A lot of the characters and plot lines did say the same, but there were many more flogging’s and horrific torture method’s detailed in Hugo’s version. Not to mention that after failing to win Esmerelda’s love for the 1000th time, Frollo hands her over to the Kings troops and actually watches her hang, even worse, he laughs. When Quasi see’s this he immediately pushes him from the heights of Notre Dame tower, and when he is reunited with her lifeless body he dies with her and both their bodies turn to dust. SOB.
7. The Little Mermaid
I’m not going to lie, but this one still creeps into my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep at night, as it couldn’t actually differ any more from the Happily Ever After version we’re all too familiar with today.
Yes, okay, so she does trade her tongue for legs, however every step she takes is pure agony, and if she doesn’t win the princes love she will die and be turned into sea foam (No pressure, right?) She decides to dance for the prince despite how painful it would have been, and although he enjoyed it and clapped along merrily, he decides to marry someone else (men, am I right?). The Little Mermaids sisters are enraged by this and use their hair to create a dagger and urge TLM to use to it to slaughter the prince in his sleep. However, when it comes down to it she can’t, so she dies and, yes, eventually becomes seafoam.
The original tale of Cinderella is GRUESOME AF (Thanks again, Brothers Grimm) For example, remember the moment when the Prince’s advisor delicately places the glass slipper onto Cindy’s foot after previously watching her step-sisters scrabble to push it onto their elephant feet? Well that scene is actually meant to be a lot more graphic. In an attempt to have the slipper fit their feet, the step-sisters literally cut their own toes off. Their toes! Talk about going above and beyond.
That is just a small snippet of all the monstrous tales we’ve been lied to about over the past 81 years, I dare you to go out and discover the rest of them… or, you know, continue to live a happy and unscarred life and forget that any of this actually exists. As for me, I’m going back to bed to think about the original Little Mermaid tale and cry about how men are just absolute dirt.