MovieTalk: Fairy Tales, The Brothers Grimm and Modern Horror

Arts & Culture MovieTalk Uncategorized

By: Cody Curtis, Staff Writer 

Since the beginning of October I have written about specific films in the horror genre. Before we press forward next week with another terrifying movie, it only seems right to discuss the genre of all evil things, and more specifically why these films are modern day versions of what Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm presented the public in the 19th century.

The Brothers Grimm stories, while not originally from the siblings, were widely distributed by them. Families who have seen any number of Disney animated films will know some of their names: Snow White, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella, just to name a few. However, when these stories were first published they were not only translated from the original Germanic text, they were all horrific in nature.

Let’s take the sweet story of Cinderella, fitting her foot into the glass slipper in Disney’s classic animation and contrast it with the tale the Grimm Brothers collected so many years ago. In this beautifully dark story, each of the ugly step-sisters are given knives to remove parts of their feet so it would fit in the slipper. The ending is also a bit different also. The ugly step-sister are biset by a murder of crows, that peck their eyes out. Be careful how you treat others, for there are always consequences.

Horrific imagery is present in each one of the Brothers Grimm’s stories. Similarly, there’s a reason why the horror genre gets its name. There is something most audiences miss when watching truly terrifying films, which the brothers understood. Truly great horror and fairy tales may be gruesome and bloody, but if you look deeper in the fairy tale the messages found are certainly earned.

This message can be subtle; Something along the lines of don’t eat too many sweets, because it can consume and destroy you, as found in the tale Hansel and Gretel. Be a good person and stand up for yourself in Cinderella. Finally words have power and need to be used carefully, as Rumpelstiltskin found out, when he danced around, bringing his name in rhyme.

All these various stories have grotesque imagery, meant to horrify and shock, but the message is in there. We as audience members see this similarity in modern horror, but have a hard time getting past the gore, suspense and terror. This becomes a roadblock to us from finally reaching any amount of self-reflection. Every film has a message, because every film is a story. Films, which are made to terrify and shock on the other hand almost exclusively have a significant way of communicating a message, which we can use to better our lives.

Unfortunately, looking for this message has slowly been disappearing. There are not many who watch horror movies for more than mere entertainment. Few choose to analyze and discuss the hidden meaning of the film. Horror is not for everyone anymore and the stories of the Grimm Brothers stories should not have been read to children.

For those who have the time and stomach for such matters however, horror is the one genre that needs to be looked into. The Brothers Grimm understood the significance of choices, consequences and how to better your life. They continuously found new meanings in storytelling. Over 200 of them in fact; it is one of the reason why they gathered so many stories after all. They loved literature, but more importantly, they loved storytelling toward betterment of humanity.

Terrifying, grotesque, unnecessarily violent; All terms used to describe the genre of all things evil. I very rarely hear someone discuss how a horror film has changed them personally. Get Out and IT from the year 2017 are two films to come out, which this writer believes to not only be two of the best films of that year, but also two films which made me look at life a bit differently. Get Out discusses passive racism, while IT talks about friendships and imagination.

As we are at the second half of October, my only hope in writing this article is, as you choose what scary movie you choose to watch, you take the time to analyze it. It does not need to be a big analysis, just reading between the lines of the message of the filmmaker and see how they are trying to help better humanity, just like the Grimm Brothers did over 200 years ago.

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