Reading, Writing & Other Addictions

Facing Reality Through Fiction

Honorable Mention: Retold Tales-Animated Movies

Well, I threatened and now I’ve done it. Here are three more books or fairy tales retold as animated movies that I just couldn’t leave out.

Lion King1.  The Lion King (Disney, 1994

Amazingly enough, The Lion King is Disney’s retelling of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  I remember hearing that when The Lion King first came out in theaters and thinking, “Incest, madness and everyone dies.  This will be a delightful Disney animated movie.”

For those of you who do not know anything about the Shakespearean play, or refuse to watch anything with Mel Gibson in it (not a problem for me, btw. A cute guy is a cute guy), Hamlet is the tragic story of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, whose father dies and almost immediately afterwards his mother marries his uncle who has become king. Visited my the ghost of his father, Hamlet is charged to bring his father’s murder to light, and becomes obsessed with doing so. The king, his uncle thinks he has gone insane and sends him away, plotting to kill him.  Hamlet gets away and kills the father of his lover. His lover goes insane because of his erratic behavior towards her and kills herself. His lover’s brother conspires with the king to get revenge and challenges Hamlet to a public duel, while poisoning his blade. The king slips poison in the drink which will be given to Hamlet during the duel should the brother fail. The bother cuts Hamlet. Hamlet runs the brother through. The queen drinks the poison, and Hamlet kills the king before dying himself from the poisoned blade.  Yes, fun for the whole family.

Fortunately, Disney did not stick to the original story, and brought in many funny characters to lessen the blow caused by the death of Simba’s (Hamlet’s) father. One of the best changes is that Simba’s love interest does not kill herself, and as her father is never introduced, he also doesn’t die, which allows a happy ending to be produced, after the hero defeats his uncle of course.  And then there is my favorite scene from the movie, where Timon and Pumba dress in drag and do the hula.

Aladdin2. Aladdin (Disney, 1992)–Now, the original tale of Aladdin is a Middle Eastern tale that was incorporated into Antoone Gallard’s translation of  One Thousand and One Nights, but the story is set in China (unlike the Disney’s version of the tale which is set in Aqraba wich is in Palestine). However, most of the people in the story are Muslim, not Chinese, leading some to believe that the story might be set in Turkestan with encompasses Central Asia and the Chinese province of Xinjiang).  Of course, the setting is not quite as important as the story.  You see, though Aladdin does indeed get recruited by a sorcerer to extract the magic lamp from the magic cave of wonder in which Aladdin gets trapped, in the original story, Aladdin has been given a magic ring from which a jinni (genie) appears to help him escape the cave and it is not until his mother tries to polish the oil lamp that they discover the more powerful genie of the lamp.  Aladdin does have the genie make him rich and powerful, and he marries the emperor’s daughter, in the story, the princess is betrothed to the vizier’s son, not an object of lust and power for the vizier himself. Also the vizier is not the sorcerer.  The sorcerer makes another appearance after hearing about Aladdin’s good fortune, and poses as a merchant trading old lamps for new, which Aladdin’s wife hears about and trade’s in the magic lamp not knowing of its importance. Then their is a battle or magic and wits that Aladdin wins with help from the ring genie.  And of course, the sorcerer had a brother who tries to kill Aladdin later, but Aladdin is warned by the lamp genie and kills him first. Finally, Aladdin becomes emperor after his father-in-law dies.

Now, the movie version is a lot funnier.  Of course, it would be with Robin Williams voicing the genie of the lamp.  And the songs in the animated film are some of my favorite Disney songs.  They made the story simpler by getting rid of some of the characters and adding the animal friends that Disney is known for.  I think each story stands on its own and both have the power to keep Scheherazade alive for a few days longer.

The Secret of NIMH3. The Secret of NIHM (Don Bluth, 1982)–If you have not seen this wonderful Don Bluth film, drop what you’re doing right now and go find it on Netflix. You will laugh listening to Dom DeLuise voice Jeremy, especially when he finally meets Miss Right.

Of course, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was one of my favorite books as a child.  In fact, I still have my tattered copy on the bookcase in my bedroom.   From what I remember about the original story (it’s been a while since I read it), the story does not vary too much from the animated film.  Though I’m not sure that the move of the Frisby house was as dramatic as the move of the “Brisby” house (as the main character’s name was changed for the film).  The storyline is as follows: Mrs. Frisby’s son Timothy is ill and would not survive a trip in the cold to their summer home, safely away from Farmer Fitzgibbon’s plow.  So, Mrs. Frisby must find a way to move her home.  She saves the life of a crow who was about to be killed by Dragon, the farmer’s cat, and he suggests that she visit the Great Owl, which she does.  The owl upon learning her name, suggests she go to the rats who live in the rosebush near her home.  The rats, unbeknownst to her, had been friends with her late husband, who also had escaped from NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) where they had been experimented on and gained humanlike intelligence and longevity. She seeks help from the rats and her house gets moved.  In the film, an evil rat named Jenner tries to kill the leader of the rats, in order to stop the Plan, which calls for the rats to live independently of humanity and stop stealing their resources (as it seems the rats also gained morals with their intelligence, though not all of them it seems). In the book, Jenner is presumed dead, because he left the rosebush, where the NIMH rats live because he disagreed with the plan.  Definitely, not as dramatic, but still a good read.

Anyway, those are my honorable mentions.  Let me know if I left anything good out.

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