Friday, March 20, 2015

The New Ladies of Fairy Tales


In the olden days, the formula for a successful fairy tale was: Princess in trouble + Brave Prince Charming + Prince rescues Princess =  Happy Ever After. Yeah, right!

Maybe I bought this formula when I was five years old, but by the age of ten. I knew better. I was a child from the era that gave us, The Korean War, The Cold War,  Civil Right's Movement, the bra burning Women's Liberation Movement, the Space Program and, last but not least, the war in Vietnam. You realized right away that the world did not offer happy ending fairy tales. I was born to Italian Immigrants in good ole South Philly. We were a middle class working family. The entire family worked in my father's grocery store. As soon as we four siblings reached the age of seven, my father tied an apron around our waist and said, "Get to work!" 


We four kids worked seven days a week along with my mother and father, the famous Fred and Lucy.  We went to Catholic school where the nuns focused on teaching the necessary skills to turn us into productive tax payers, even if they had to beat the lesson plans into our skulls. The nuns of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had no patience for fragile princesses in their classes and, they tolerated a Prince Charming even less.


South Philly girls were tough. We had to be. The world in which we lived in was not conductive to princesses or fairy tales. Unfortunately, the Disney Fairy Tales from my generation, did not mirror my upbringing or my daughter's. Sad! I was never a weak maiden in need of rescuing. I was the one usually rescuing others. This may be why I love "The Walking Dead's female heroines Carol and Michonne. 

I brought up my daughter to be a strong woman, also. She's a tiny package looking more like Snow White...that is until you try to hurt her family...then she becomes Wonder Woman... who will gladly send you flying into the next fairy tale. So you can imagine our opinion of weak princesses in Disney Films.


This is why we both enjoyed Walt Disney new take on "Doesn't Need Saving" Princesses. Here are two samples

Yes indeed! Walt Disney Pictures/ Roth Films has brought fairy tales into the future and Malificent was proof of this. Women have always been able to do the same jobs as men and, just recently, the military said women could fight on the front lines.


It was with the premier of the film Malificent starring Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning and Sam Riley that I noticed the new direction,  the Disney Studio had taken.

It was Angelina Jolie's Malificent's kiss that woke the princess, and then, saved Princess Aurora from the selfish, demonic King Stefan. It didn't matter that it was Malificent who placed the curse on Aurora in the first place; Malificent was a little pissed off with the treacherous Stefan for stealing her powerful wings by the time Aurora was born. She took her revenge out on the person she assumed meant the world to Stefan.


What Malificent didn't count on was for her and her shape changing familiar (Sam Riley) to become the secret protectors of baby Aurora. The infant's guardians, who were also fairies, were comically incompetent. Malificent grew to love the child and the child, her.

In the end, it was the love of a strong woman who saved the fair Princess Aurora and her Prince Charming. This was the best version of Sleepy Beauty that I've seen yet.
Angelina Jolie did a stunning job in the film as the angry fairy queen of the forest who falls in love with the child she' cursed. Love conquers all!


This past weekend I went to see Cinderella with my niece and great niece. I had wondered if Disney Studio would do as good a job with this film as they did with Malificent.

Cinderella which starred Lily James in the title role was a visual feast for these old tired eyes. Richard Madden (Game of Throne's Rob Stark), Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and the very talented Nonso Anozie from the series Dracula.

The story went by the normal formula of princess saved by prince except for a few twists which I picked up on right away. Yes, the stepmother played deliciously wicked by Cate Blanchett was selfish and abusive to Cinderella, but we see what sparked the hatred.


When Cinderella's father (Ben Chaplin) died away from home, he sent one special gift back and that was for his daughter. The wife received nothing, not even a note proclaiming his love. Lady Tremaine lets slip that she was a happy wife and mother to her true love, first husband, until his untimely death.  Maybe she married Cinderella's father for convenience and security for her and her two brats, but I think she had also allowed herself to dare fall in love again with husband #2.  Lady Tremaine realized that she was not treasured and she took out her revenge on Cinderella. 


Cinderella was a sweet, forgiving girl, but her courage did not reveal itself in battle. No, Cinderella proved her bravery with her refusal to allow Lady Tremaine to take advantage of the king's love for her. Cinderella was willing to stay the family slave in order to protect the new king. Bravery comes in all forms and I'm hoping we will see more kick ass princesses on the horizon.

Side note: I wasn't sure what my great niece took home from the film. This being her second movie date of the year with me. Yesterday, she came home from school and asked me to dance with her; a waltz; just like Cinderella and Kit danced. I asked her if I was to play the part of Prince Kit because I would need to lead the waltz. Isabella looked me straight in the eye and said, "Aunt Marie, I'm a princess and I'll lead my own waltz."


Damn right, you will!!! Long live the Warrior Queen! 


  1. I have a terrible habit of leading when I dance, too, Marie. My daughter saw these movies and loved them. She wants Cinderella's powder blue gown. I agree with you that the Disney fairy tales with the damsel in distress leaves out the strong female character. But I studied the original fairy tales in a course at the University of Pennsylvania entitled Feminist Fairy Tales. The original tales were terrifying. Come to think of it, you'd probably like them. They are filled with blood and guts. Thanks for sharing this with your readers, Marie.

    1. I had heard the original tales were terrifying and, you're correct in knowing I would enjoy a dark and gory tale. Tell you daughter, they are selling Cinderella dresses in one of the shops at the Cherry Hill Mall. I'm not sure which one. I'll check for you