Fables: A Snow White I actually Loved

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Last week I blogged about my lack of enthusiasm for Snow White. This week though, I have changed my mind about the girl. Prior to reading the comic Fables, I had never liked the character of Snow White. She is always made out to be a stereotypical female whose talents include cleaning, cooking, and occasionally combat when it is necessary for her to prove herself. Her story has been changed many times, adapted and reworked to make her into someone new, but despite these changes I was never really fond of her. That is, until now. In the graphic novel Fables, Snow White is smart, witty, and professional. Elements of the comic keep her true to her original fairy tale character, but she is also kind of a badass bitch. She is the person who keeps the underground fable community running. Despite the fact that there is a mayor who is the face of the community, Snow White is the one calling the shots. We see in the very first scene where she is dealing with the issues of Beauty and the Beast that she has the final say in the fable world and that she is not to be messed with. We later find out that she divorced Prince Charming when she found him in bed with her younger sister. She knows what she is worth and leaves him to stand on her own as a strong and independent woman. She does not have to prove herself by fighting off enemies; she is clearly intelligent and capable. Although she does have a budding romance with Wolf, she does not need a man in her life. She does get emotional when she thinks her sister is dead and she is more than willing to get dolled up in a sexy dress from the Remembrance Day Function. She possesses feminine qualities that the original Snow White had: she is beautiful, caring, and capable of love. However, these are not the traits that define her. I didn’t think it would be possible for me to ever like Snow White, but Fables proved me wrong.

Snow White: Creepy No Matter the Version

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Prior to this week’s discussion, I had never really thought much about the story of Snow White. Sure, I had the 1937 Disney version on VHS, but growing up the film was far from my favorite. I had seen the 2012 version of the story, Snow White and the Huntsmen, but besides the fact that I noticed major differences from the Disney rendition, I didn’t really think too much of the film. It was not until we read the original story by the brothers Grimm that I finally began to notice how creepy this fairy tale actually is. Perhaps I was desensitized by the countless other fairy tale stories that I had heard which also involved evil stepmothers, absent fathers, eerie forests, and so on, but when I come to think of it now, the story of Snow White is pretty disturbing no matter the version. The basis of the tale is that a young and beautiful girl is nearly killed by the mother figure in her life in many unsettling ways due to the fact that she is jealous of her daughter’s beauty. There is also some use of a poisonous apple. While each version may have some variation, this general plotline and apple usage can be found in the Grimm original, the Disney version, the Huntsmen and Mirror Mirror.  The original version, written in 1812, had Snow White’s actual mother asking for her organs served on a platter with salt. A later version, written in 1857, had the villain as stepmother rather than birth mother, which was a detail that has been since found in other versions, probably because it was slightly less disconcerting to audiences. The Disney version added cheerful songs and lessons (such as the fun one can have while completing household chores!) to the plot, but under this Disney-fied façade, the story is still frightening. And while the newest versions, Mirror Mirror and Huntsmen, had Snow White as our fearless heroine, this did not distract from the fact that this fairy tale is creepy. No matter the version or the additions to the plot, this fairy tale is messed up and I am unsure as to why we classify it as a children’s story. 

 

 

 

Why Shakespeare Will Always be Important

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I openly admit to the fact that I find the task of reading Shakespeare to be a challenging and tedious one. Just the fact that I would refer to reading Shakespeare as a “task” illustrates my lack of enthusiasm for attempting to tackle one of his works. However, despite the fact that a Shakespearean play would not be my first choice when curling up on the couch for some rainy day reading, I still value the works of Shakespeare and recognize their everlasting importance. Shakespeare wrote his works hundreds of years ago and yet he still remains a household name. While the language may scare some readers away, the content is what keeps the majority coming back. This is because no matter how much time has gone by, themes of forbidden and passionate love, jealousy, murder and betrayal are always going to be relevant and entertaining. Shakespeare may have taken inspiration from or adapted other works, but he is still considered a literary pioneer for incorporating these and other themes into his works. His stories were complex with intricate plots that enthralled viewers and readers as they unraveled. Ever since their publications, Shakespeare’s works have been adapted to be made more applicable to the “current” time, whatever that may be. A key example of this would be the famous Romeo and Juliet adaptation of the late 1950s, West Side Story. This week in my Theater Appreciation class, our homework was to view this film. It was while I was watching this movie that I really recognized the fact that Shakespearean themes have been relevant and can always be made relevant no matter what time period we are in. This is because Shakespearean themes relate to universal human experiences that will exist as long as there are families, lovers, friendships, and other types of relationships. 

Weekly Blog: Olivier’s Gertrude

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In preparation for the upcoming project, I thought that this week I would blog about my character, Queen Gertrude, as she was depicted in Olivier’s famous adaptation of Hamlet. Gertrude was played by the beautiful and then thirty year old Eileen Herlie, who embodied the beauty and youthfulness that the character of Gertrude has in Shakespeare’s original play. Casted in the role of Hamlet, her son, was the director Olivier, who was actually over 10 years older than Herlie. The decision to cast a mother as younger than her son actually makes sense in this particular story for a number of reasons. Gertrude is a character that possesses many stereotypical feminine qualities. She is weak, easily swayed and deceived, easily controlled, tender, loving, and extremely naïve. She might as well be younger than her son, who is just one of the many characters in the play who have power over her. This casting decision also makes sense if one chooses to believe that Hamlet has an Oedipus complex, as the article by Earnest Jones suggests. In Olivier’s adaptation, Hamlet and his mother often partake in prolonged kisses that hint something more than mere motherly affection. Additionally, during the scene in which Hamlet and the Queen are talking in her chambers, Olivier had the two quarrelling in a somewhat sexual way on her bed. The decision to cast Herlie makes this Oedipus suggestion more obvious than if Gertrude was played by an older, more withered woman. In the original text, Hamlet describes his mother as innocent and being deceived by her uncle. This view also suggests that perhaps Shakespeare had intended for Hamlet’s actions to be due to his repressed desire for her. While we may never know of Shakespeare’s intention or of Hamlet’s true feelings, we do know that Gertrude must be depicted in this light for a reason. 

Hamlet Character Analysis: Gertrude

  • From the text: In Act 1, scene 2 the character of Gertrude was introduced in the play Hamlet. It is told that she was the wife of the newly deceased King Hamlet and is therefore the Queen of Denmark. Only less than 2 months after her beloved husband’s death, Gertrude has married his brother, Claudius. During this time, some saw a marriage like this to be incestuous. One of the people who views their marriage in this light is young Prince Hamlet, who looks down on his uncle/stepfather. As a result, Hamlet is very disgusted with his mother for marrying Claudius. Gertrude seems a little naive and acts not how a widow in today’s society would act so shortly after the death of her husband if she truly loved him. In Act 1, scene 2, lines 70-75 she tells Prince Hamlet to stop grieving and accept that death is a part of life. She seems to truly care about her son, but will push him to support the new King. In Act 1, scene 5, the ghost of the King tells Hamlet that he should not harm the Queen who was virtuous in their marriage and was simply tricked and seduced by Claudius into marriage, but that when the truth is revealed she will understand her mistake and be overcome with guilt. This shows that the Queen is a good person, but is perhaps afraid of being alone or possesses weak, “feminine” characteristics. In Act 3, scene 4 we get to hear more dialogue from Gertrude as she beckons Hamlet to her chambers to talk. She originally plans to harshly criticize her son for his behavior, but Hamlet takes control of the situation, once again showing Gertrude’s weak or submissive tendencies.

 

  • I think that the character of Gertrude is probably in somewhere in her 40s. Because she is the Queen of Denmark, she is very wealthy and therefore dresses in the finest clothing and is probably very beautiful. If she was a 21st Century woman she would probably be dressed by famous designers and be very dolled up and beautiful for an “older” woman. This character strikes me as very feminine, naive and submissive. She seems to do what is expected of her, or give into whimsical fantasies. She trusts her new husband blindly when in reality she is sleeping with the enemy, the one who killed her true love, the king. In today’s world, Gertrude would probably watch television shows and read books about romance, or maybe she would watch the Real Housewives series. She would be a housewife who would not have to do any work because of her wealth, and is viewed almost as a child, with little power. Even her son has power over her and criticizes her actions. Her parenting style is therefore caring, but lacking in authority. She is someone who cares a lot about her reputation and the reputation of her family. For fun, she would probably shop and do whatever it is that her husband wanted to do. She seems very eager to please and very loyal. Because of her status in a world with many commoners, she probably has very few true friends. This is another thing that keeps her tied to her husband. Despite the fact that a lot of people would probably be miserable in a life like this, I feel that she is probably content.

Watchmen: A Brilliant Adaptation

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Who watches the Watchmen? Well, fans of the comic book definitely should. While there were some minor changes to the plot of the film adaptation of the famous comic book, Watchmen, fans looking for fidelity will be very pleased with the movie.

While the newspaper articles, police reports, and the portions of Hollis Mason’s novel Under the Hood that were found between the chapters were an interesting addition to the story, I found myself more interested in the comic itself and felt that the additional background information given in these portions were not always necessary. Apparently, the writers of the film adaptation agreed with me on this, as the excerpts were not included and in fact Hollis Mason’s book was hardly even mentioned in the film. I also found myself getting antsy every time there was a scene in the comic that included the newspaper stand. I understand that this gave readers additional insight to the happenings of the time but I found them unnecessary, as I was more interested in what the main characters were doing. Thankfully, these were not included in the film either. Aside from these small changes, the only other key difference that I saw in the film was the actual attack on New York City as planned by our “villain” Viedt. I was so excited to see how it would pan out in the film and was wondering what the octopus-like monster would look. In the end though, I think that it was a wise idea to cut out the monster, as it could have made the movie a little hokey.

With only minimal changes, I feel that the film is most likely accepted by fans of the comic. The casting for this film was absolutely spot-on, as I felt that the characters looked, acted, and talked exactly as a reader of the comic would think that they would. Additionally, exact lines from the comic could be found in the movie and the settings were exactly how they were drawn on the panels of the comic book’s pages. Overall, due to its fidelity, I think that this is one adaptation that most “fan boys” and “fan girls” are probably very pleased with. 

 

Battlestar Galactica: Yet Another Reason I wish I Was Alive in the ’70s

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If I could be a teenager in any decade in American history, I would definitely choose the 1970s. The hair, the music, the fashion, the mindset; I love it all. So much “Pop Culture” emerged in this time period, most of which I learned about through watching VH1’s I love the ‘70s and every episode of That ‘70s Show. During this awesome era, special effects were making major strides and ideas of the future were hugely popular. In the year 1978, the TV series Battlestar Galactica came on the scene, with its sci-fi idea of what the future had in store for the human race. The series took off with a huge following and after seeing the pilot episodes I can understand why. Despite the fact that the special effects seem cheesy to us viewers in 2013, they were exciting and innovative at the time and are still extremely entertaining to watch today. The actors are attractive and endearing (who wouldn’t love a man who made your son a robot dog?) and the plot line is interesting. The idea of a future where robots take over the world is still a relevant idea that strikes the interest of viewers today (hence the creation of a new, re-vamped Battlestar Galactica which came out in 2003). Even though we do not have to worry about Cylons (the closest thing we have is Siri), who knows what our future will hold? Battlestar Galactica offered a suggestion of our future that still seems unimaginable thirty plus years later. However, the point of novels, films and television programs is to push our imagination to the beyond and to entertain us with such outlandish possibilities.
While the 2003 version took a unique approach to the series, modifying characters and scenarios and avoiding replicating the original, I didn’t find it to be something to write home about. Just as I prefer the idea of life as it was in the 1970s, I also prefer Battlestar Galactica as it was in 1978. I know that if I was a teen when this series came out, I would have been clued to the TV.