New Blog

Hi all!  If you want to see more posts, please visit my new blog, Story Fairy’s Library, at http://thestoryfairyslibrary.wordpress.com/.  Right now I am just posting the content from this blog and my writing blog on it, but it will eventually be a literary blog that contains my writing, everything I’ve been doing on this blog with fairy tales, and discussions of other books, stories, and poems I read.

As I post content from here and my writing blog on this new blog, I would like for people to let me know with comments which posts are their favorites and what they would like to see more of in the future.  This will help me decide what my first new posts should be in Story Fairy’s Library.  Thanks, and take care!

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Comparative “Snow Queen” Film Discussion: Part 1

For the most part, I think the Russian film version of “The Snow Queen” is a great movie.  It has nice visuals, wonderful music, and many surprising twists and turns.  Many of the characters are very well depicted, including the robber girl, who is one of my favorites.  She’s funny, just like she’s supposed to be, as well as nasty and troublesome.  In any version of “The Snow Queen,” I love how the she is mean, naughty, and captures Gerda to be her playmate. I also, however, love how Gerda’s story helps her find her heart and help her new playmate.  This shows how powerfully stories can influence people.  Among other things, they can teach the true meaning of friendship, just like they do for the robber girl.  I think they depicted her very well in this film version, but I wish they had let her good heart show a little more.

Besides the robber girl, my other favorite part of the original story is the evil mirror created by a hobgoblin that makes everything ugly when you look through it.  In the original story, it is a shard of this very mirror getting into his eye that causes Kay to stop loving all the wonderful things around him.  In this film version, however, it is the Snow Queen’s kiss that does this; the mirror does not exist at all.  I really wish it did.  When I saw the evil man in the movie, I really hoped he would turn out to be the hobgoblin who creates the mirror.   I was waiting for this to be revealed when he promised his revenge on the kids and their grandmother for not letting him by their flowers, but it never happened.  He was, however, behind most of the bad things that happen in the movie.  This I liked, even though it might have some unfortunate implications, since I thought he was a genuinely interesting and captivating character.

Even though I was disappointed that the evil mirror is not in this version of the story, I understand it is a difficult concept to portray in film, especially since it is not described very vividly in the original story.  Since it is difficult, I think it is much more desirable for a film director who doesn’t think he or she can portray it well to not portray it at all, rather than try to but fail.  This is what happens in other film versions of the story, including a BBC version starring Sydney White and an animated version by Gareth Williams.

In the Gareth Williams version, the movie opens with the hobgoblin creating the mirror.  This part is appropriate enough, since that is how the original story opens, too.  It is completely ruined, however , by how the hobgoblin is portrayed.  He is a cartoony, cackling, monster, which not at all fits the type of villain he is.  Since he creates a mirror that makes all beautiful things look ugly, he should be more similar to the mean guy in the Russian version; a no-nonsense person who hates all things light-hearted.  This movie convinced me even more that this character should have been the hobgoblin in the Russian version.

In the BBC version, Gerda finds out about the mirror early on when she is in the palace, but her knowledge of it does nothing to help her save Kay.  When she gets to the Snow Queen’s palace, all she has to do is shed a tear on Kay’s face, and that destroys the mirror shard.  Defeating evil should never be that easy in stories, but when it is, the characters shouldn’t be given information that doesn’t even help!  I have yet to see a film or literary version of “The Snow Queen” portraying the goblin and mirror well, but I seriously hope I do someday.  If I don’t, I just might have to write my own literary version!

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“Snow Queen” Film Discussion

Hello folks!  Here is the beginning of an ongoing, comparative discussion of all the different film versions of “The Snow Queen,” one of my favorite fairy tales.  It is not as well known as a lot of the other fairy tales, and that is probably because it is much darker and more complex and sophisticated than they are.  That is one of the things I love about it.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with “The Snow Queen,” here is a link to the original story: http://hca.gilead.org.il/snow_que.html

This story has several different film versions, but not one of them is well known.  They are certainly not as popular as any of the Disney fairy tales.  Part of my reason for comparing film versions of this story, therefore, is to choose which version would be best for showing to kindergarteners or first graders as part of a fairy tale unit, since it is not a fairy tale film most children are likely to be exposed to.  While this story is sophisticated, I do not think there is anything inappropriate for children in it.  Besides, children of all ages understand much more than we give them credit for.  The film version I choose to recommend for teachers in my fairy tale unit discussions will be one that young children can understand and enjoy without being terribly frightened.  (A little bit of fear is usually a good thing).

This discussion will come in several installments, and I will post a completed comparative essay on this blog when it is finished.  The discussion may lead to me discussing other lesser-known film versions of fairy tales, but who knows.  For now, enjoy the first installment of my “Snow Queen” film discussion!

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The Pirate Princess

Once there were two kings who longed to be fathers, but neither had any children.  Wanting to remedy their situations, both kings set out and soon came to the cave of a sorcerer.  They explained to the sorcerer and each other that they wished for children to be born to them and their queens.  The sorcerer told them what he had seen written in the stars:

“You,” he said to one king “are destined to have a son, and you,” he addressed the other “will soon have a daughter.  Your two children will be destined to marry.  If you permit this, you, your children, and their children will share a great blessing.  If not, their marriage will happen anyway, but only after many have suffered.”  Having heard this, the two kings vowed to each other that their children would marry.

Before a year had passed, the kings’ children were born.  One was a boy and the other a girl, but both kings were so busy ruling their kingdoms that they forgot their vows to each other.  But this did not prevent them from meeting the sorcerer, for when they were old enough, they were both sent off to study in a foreign land with this man as their mentor.

The prince and princess met while studying together.  They became friends, and over time they fell in love.  The sorcerer said nothing of their destiny, for he wanted them to be kept together only by their love.

After they finished studying and returned to their kingdoms, all could see they were unhappy, but nobody knew why.  When the prince told his father why he was so sad, he included who this princess was and which kingdom she had gone home to.  Hearing this, the king remembered his vow to the other king and wrote him a letter.  The letter, which said that their child shall now be wed, was delivered by the prince in person, but when the princess’ father received it, he was afraid.  Having also forgotten about his promise, he had since betrothed his daughter to the prince of a very rich and powerful kingdom.  Terrified of what this prince’s father might do to him if he canceled the betrothal, this king decided to keep the prince with him until his daughter had married the other prince.  While the prince was staying with the princess’ father, he was not allowed to see her.

The prince and the princess lived apart but under the same roof until one day, the princess’ servant told her of a prince being hidden away in the castle.  She described him, and the princess knew it was her true love.   She asked her servant which bed chamber he was staying in, and as soon as she knew, she started passing by this room frequently.  After the prince caught a glimpse of her in the mirror, he arranged to meet her in secret.  When the prince learned she had been betrothed to another, the two of them ran away in secret.  They climbed out of the window and ran to the prince’s ship.  Then they set sail, and by the time the king discovered they were missing, they were already far away.

They sailed until they were in need of fresh food and water.  When they spied an island, they sailed there, anchored the ship, and walked into the forest together.  The princess climbed a fruit tree and tossed fruit down to the prince, who filled a sack with it.  While she was picking the fruit, however, the princess was spied by the cruel and selfish son of a merchant.  He saw her through a telescope while on his ship, and he was so astonished by her beauty that he decided to capture her.  He set off with several soldiers, all of them armed with weapons.  When the princess saw them coming, she told the prince to hide, not revealing himself no matter what happened.  She tossed her ring to him, vowing that if they were separated, they would one day be reunited.

The merchant’s son approached the princess and spoke sweetly for her to come down from the tree, but she refused.  Then he ordered his men to cut the tree down.  Before he could do it, however, the princess agreed to come down and go with the son of the merchant.  She, however, had plans of her own.

Before boarding the ship with the merchant’s son, the princess made him vow not to touch her until they were married.  He agreed, but when he asked her who she was, she wouldn’t reveal that information until they were married either.

When they arrived in the homeland of the merchant’s son, the princess told him to inform his family that he had his future bride with him.  She also asked him to give wine to all his sailors to celebrate.

The merchant’s son did as he was asked, but before long, all the sailors were drunk.  They decided to leave the ship and explore this new town.  As soon as all the sailors were gone, the princess, he had not had a drop of wine, sailed away by herself.  When the merchant and his family found the ship and sailors missing, the merchant angrily drove his son out of the house.

While searching at sea for her lost love, the princess was once again captured, this time by a king who had built his castle on the shore.  The king asked the princess to marry him, and she agreed on three conditions: the king would not touch her until they were married, the ship would not be unloaded until then, and she would be given the eleven cleverest women in the court as her ladies in waiting.  All conditions were met at the king’s castle, including the ladies in waiting.  One day, the princess told these ladies of her secret plan, and they all snuck off onto the ship.  As soon as the princess was sure the coast was clear, the twelve of them sailed away.

They sailed until they came to an island, which they soon saw belonged to a band of blood-thirsty pirates.  The pirates tried to kill the ladies, but when the princess agreed to share the wealth she had stolen from the merchant, they put down their weapons.  They celebrated their agreement by drinking wine, and soon all the pirates were drunk.  As soon as the wine had put them all asleep, the princess and her ladies killed the pirates.  Then they collected all of the pirates’ treasures from the island, loaded them onto the ship, and made themselves uniforms so they would look like sailors while at sea.

Once the lady pirates were at sea again, they sailed a long time until they reached a distant port.  They docked the ship and went into the city, where they witnessed a great commotion.  All the people were running in one direction, and, as the ladies soon found out, the king had died without any heirs.  The queen was about to drop his old crown and have whoever caught it become the new king.  Suddenly, a hard object fell right on the pirate princess’ head.  It was the crown!   Thinking she was a man, everyone bowed down to her and chanted “Long live the king!”

It was first arranged that this “young man” was to marry the queen, but on closer inspection, “he” was clearly very young, and they decided this person should marry the daughter of the chief vizier instead.  The queen agreed to this, for she no longer wanted to rule.  Once along with this young woman, the pirate princess confessed she was a woman and told her everything.  Together, they came up with a plan.

The next day, the princess called all the sculptors into the palace and ordered them to make sculptures of their new king.  These were to be put up at all the crossroads, and soldiers were to arrest anyone who show emotion while seeing the sculptures.

Through this endeavor, the three people the princess was looking for were arrested.  These included her beloved, the merchant’s son, and the king who had captured her.  They all recognized her in the sculpture and thus showed emotion.

On the day of the wedding, all three of this people were brought before the princess.  She asked what had happened since she had seen them last, and each one told his story.  While the king and the merchant’s son had come here by pure coincidence while seeking their daily bread, the princess’ true love had come looking for her after finding her clothes and the bodies of the pirates on the island.                           Being kind-hearted and forgiving, the princess let her ladies in waiting go home to the kingdom where they lived.  She also gave the merchant’s son back his ship, which was full of many more valuables than before.   Then she finally approached her true love, and they agreed to be married that very day.  After hearing their stories, the people of the kingdom were so impressed they wanted this couple to stay as their new king and queen.  They did, and everybody lived happily ever after.

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One Last Jewish Story (for now)

Here is another Jewish story.  As of now, it is the last Jewish story I know that I feel is worth putting on this blog.  There will be more Jewish stories later, especially since I was raised Jewish and have requested a new book of Jewish folktales for my birthday (which is next month).  For now, though, here is “The Pirate Princess.”

 

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Another Jewish Story

Here is another Jewish story, this one being from Egypt.  Like “Katanya,” it features Elijah the Prophet and has a female protagonist, but I like it better than “Katanya” because the princess in this story plays a more active role than her.

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Elijah’s Violin

There once was a king with three daughters.  He loved them all very much, and they had many lovely times together until he had to go to war.  Before he left, he asked each princess what she would like him to bring her back.  The eldest said a diamond shaped like a star and the middle sister a gown made out of gold.  The youngest, however, asked for nothing.  All she wanted was for her father to return safely.  Her father did not want her to be without a gift, so he gave her three days to think of what she wanted.

While the princess sat on a rock outside the palace, an old woman appeared.  When told of the princess’ problem, she said, “You must ask him for Elijah’s violin.”

Three days passed, and the king, who now had to hurry off to the war, asked his daughter what she wanted.  The princess asked for Elijah’s violin, and the king, planning to meet this request, left.

The king was victorious, and when the war was over, he began searching for his daughters’ gifts.  The golden gown and star-shaped diamond he found, but he could not find Elijah’s violin, and no one else could tell him where to find it.  So he looked everywhere he could, finally coming to a cave where an old man lived.  This man (who was really Elijah) told the king it was in possession of this country’s king.  When the king asked how he could get it, the old man told him that the king’s daughter was imprisoned in stone, and whoever managed to release her would be given anything he wanted.

“But how can I do that?” he asked.

“Take these three strings from Elijah’s violin, and burn them when in the presence of the princess,” said the old man.  The king did as he was told and ventured to the palace.  He announced his wish to save the princess and was brought to her right away.  Her body had indeed been turned to stone.  She couldn’t move, but she could talk, and she told him how she had been turned to stone by her reflection which had escaped from the mirror. Remembering what the old man said, he took the violin strings and threw them into the fire.  As soon as he did so, the princess changed back to flesh and blood.  The king advised her to blindfold herself and break the mirror her reflection escaped from.  She did this, and all were certain that such a thing would never happen again.

The king and queen rejoiced to see their daughter free, and asked the visiting king what he wanted as a reward.  He requested Elijah’s violin, which he soon had in his possession.  As soon as he got home, he gave it to his youngest daughter.

The princess was overjoyed to have this violin, and when she started playing it, lovely melodies flowed out.  As she played, though, she suddenly noticed a handsome young man standing beside her.  Startled, she asked him where he came from, and he explained that he was a kidnapped prince whom she had freed from his dungeon with the tunes of her magical violin.  The two of them talked for a long time, and soon they became friends.  Every time she wanted to see him, the princess played the violin and he appeared.  He visited her many, many times, and after awhile, they fell in love.  The prince gave her a ring and promised they be married someday.

One day her eldest sister heard her talking to a young man in her bedroom and became very jealous.  When the young princess wasn’t looking, this wicked girl snuck into her bedroom and searched through it.   She found the ring the prince gave her, and spitefully threw it out the window, breaking the window in the process.  She then took the violin and began to play, but it played a sad tune, since the ring had been lost and danger awaited the prince.  The prince arrived, but as he entered through the window, he wounded himself on the broken glass and was forced to turn back.

When the princess returned to her room, she knew something was wrong.  Wanting to see her true love, she began playing the violin, but he did not appear.  When she saw the broken window and the blood on the curtains, she guessed what her elder sister did.  She knew she must try to save her prince, so she began to think of what to do.  Suddenly, she had it!  She pretended to be ill, and admitted no one to her bedroom.  While in her room, she escaped through the window and set off on her quest, bringing the violin with her.

Along the way, she met the same old woman who advised her to ask for Elijah’s violin.  She told her what happened and asked if there was any way she could save the prince.  The old woman told her to pluck three strings from the violin and burn them while in his presence.

The princess journeyed until she was tired, then stopped to sleep.  In her dreams she all of a sudden understood the language of birds, and they told her a map could be found on the leaves of their tree.  When the princess woke up, she plucked a leaf from the tree and continued on her way, consulting the map until she found the palace.  When she got there, she presented herself to the king and asked to be alone with the prince.  As soon as she was with him, she plucked three strands from the violin and threw them into the fire.  While they burned, the prince’s wounds healed, and he opened his eyes.   He and the princess were soon married.  They lived happily ever after, playing Elijah’s violin and sometimes using it to heal people.

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