I recently saw Disney’s new Beauty & the Beast in theatres. Not to give away any spoilers but it was pretty good. They fleshed out the characters a bit better and created a slightly more realistic back story regarding the curse that was lacking in the animation. It started me wondering why there is this need to retell the same stories again and again. Part of it stems from the need to pass on the stories to the next generation. Disney’s Beauty & the Beast was released in 1991, 26 years ago. That’s an entire generation that needs to hear this tale. On the flip side though is the need to expand the tale, add some new ideas/ technology/interpretations which may change the narrative, but also bring something more to the text or film that hasn’t been seen before. Here are a few books that also re-evaluate classic stories that I think you might like:
Never Never by Brianna R Shrum is the story of Neverland and Peter Pan told from the perspective of James Hook. As a boy wanting to be a man, James has no time for other children; yet, Pan intrigues him and offers him a chance to play at being a child for a while. Thinking that this might be James’s only chance for a real adventure, he joins Pan in Neverland only to realize that Neverland is not for faint at heart. Trapped in a world not his own, James does the unthinkable – he grows up, thus beginning the epic feud between Hook and Pan.
Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman is an intriguing mix of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Snow White has just awakened and is about to marry her prince when dwarves appear, telling her of a sleeping sickness that is creeping into their lands. Feeling duty bound to save her people, Snow White leaves on a journey that will change her destiny forever.
Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Dusty Higgins & Van Jensen at first feels like a mashup of two rather bizarre genres. Yet with the murder of Geppetto, the need for revenge and the fact that Pinocchio has an unlimited supply of stakes does make for a rather spectacular tale. The question though is what kind of toil will this take on Pinocchio and can his soul survive.
I wasn’t sure whether I should mention this tale, but I thought it’s a classic and one which many can identify with. Princess Bride By William Goldman has a subtitle that not to many people are aware of: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure. Essentially, Goldman is writing about an earlier tale that he heard in his youth, of a farm boy and the girl he loved, while living in a place near Florin. Throughout the tale, you are never quite sure where you stand since the blending of fact and fantasy is done so well, you begin to question what reality is. If all you’ve ever seen is the film, check out the book. It will blow your mind.
If you need a break from reading all these fabulous books, then I would highly recommend watching Shrek. Shrek (also a book) is trying to exist in world where ogres are despised but the sanctity of his home is violated, the only way to save his sanity is to undertake a quest that will change everything. Check out the sequels that take the notion of a fairy tale and throws it completely on its head. Into the Woods is a dark musical more in keeping with the original Grimm tales, but I love the way it also satirizes Disney own films of what fairy tales are. Finally, check out Beastly. It’s a modern interpretation of Beauty & the Beast where the most popular boy in school insults the lowliest girl, who also happens to be a witch. Can you guess what happens next?
There are many more films and books to choose,
so dive right in and see what you can discover. Enjoy!