Taking into consideration that every culture has their own traditional lore, the western world has undoubtedly been influenced the most by the collections attributed to the Brothers Grimm, the French Classics and even the Norse Sagas. Though many have fallen in love with One Thousand and One Nights (aka Arabian Nights) and the darker, Slavic tales who’s Baba Yaga makes all other witches look like Mary Poppins, they are not as popular here nor as frequently reinvented.
Disney, of course, is the largest offender in the case of rewriting classics. I grew up watching and loving their movies the same as many children still do. However, as an adult who now understands those fable’s origins and has acquired an appreciation for their traditional forms, I cringe whenever a new remake is announced.
Granted, not all have been horribly bad. I’ve enjoyed a select few over the years, but I still approach them with pessimistic apprehension. After being let down more times than not, I can’t help doubting that another’s interpretation is going to match the way these beloved tales have helped shape my own imagination and creativity since childhood. I almost feel a personal duty to protect their integrity, to have some kind of say in the direction these rewrites go. I know I do not. I’m very aware that these feelings of possession are not over the original works, themselves, but over the emotions entangled with the way they’ve influenced my life.
The thing with fairytales is that they are completely open to interpretation. They touch people’s lives in unique, personalized ways, inciting a mass quantity of debate over the moral messages typically embedded in the core of each story and thus, they will endure. They will continue to be remade; reborn into new takes on classic literature.
As an artist and writer, I can appreciate these passionate attempts to keep a treasured story alive. To pay tribute to something that has touched the creator deeply in some way, even if their spin on it doesn’t spark a resonating response within my own being. Even if the same story affects us in a vastly different way. I struggle with the temptation to pen my own warped versions of favored fables. To see how many others out there cringe and sigh, hating that yet another damn creative-type went and tried to fix something that was never really broken to begin with.
What fairytale would you reinvent? Do you have a favorite that’s never actually been remade?