Since I was a child, I have always loved fairy tales. I was fascinated with those that were available as graphic stories, in books with pictures and in movies, most of them became Disney’s classics. I also love comics, Marvel ones have a special place in my heart because the heroes are more human, a bit imperfect. Above all, I guess I’ve always been a fan of the idea of a “happy ending”, that things will be OK. Even when there are super powerful evil people with lots of hate in their hearts, there are people going to extreme lengths for the good of others, most times at the expense of their own happiness..
I started collecting children’s picture books and fairy tale movies from the moment I found out I was pregnant.. My boy’s aren’t even four yet and we’ve had very interesting conversations from watching some of them. Granted, the most repetitive comments are due to us watching Star Wars -once-. I realised that some of the subjects in “old” Children’s fairy tales are quite complicated: resentment, jealousy and envy seem to be the order of the day (not to mention really cruel human acts, like abandonment and abuse of the weak and vulnerable) and love seems to come as the reward for all the tragedy suffered by the main characters.
I once started telling my boys the story of the little Red Hood, I was trying to remember stories from my childhood and it was the first to pop into my mind. The further I got into the story the scarier it became, to the point I had to lie my way out of it: “and then she met the wolf, in the middle of the forest, and he was very upset because she’d wondered off from the path like that, after her mum told her not to do so. And that is why she got really really scared and run straight to her grandma’s”.
Some of these movies have greatly influenced me as a young girl, all the way to becoming a young woman. I’m sure some of my passion for wildlife comes from watching the jungle book, it also always comes back to me when I’m thinking about the bear necessities of life. I cried when Muffassa died and I realised how lucky Simba was to find such good friends when he had no meaning or purpose in his life anymore. I wished to be beautiful like the Little Mermaid and find a love so strong I would cross worlds for. I am ashamed to admit that at age 7 or so I daydreamed about being rescued from my “castle” -not house- by a very handsome boy -not man- that resembled Sebastian from the Never Ending story.. Yes you can mix and match fairy tales..
As I grew older, in my early teens, I remember imagining for hours on end how it would be to fall in love, to finally feel understood, to have someone to share everything with, to be someone’s everything and have him be my everything. I know, I know, i’m stopping now.. in a minute.. I used to watch romantic movies and cry when true love showed it’s face in the form of the big fat juicy first kiss, cross my heart, i’d cry.
And then I found love. It was amazing, it was exciting, it was all it promised to be and more, and I was very willing to leave everything behind -if needed-, just in the name of love. And so I did. I changed what I was doing to fit it around my new found true love, and I changed the time I spend with my family, and with my friends, and studying. And I changed the way I dressed a little bit, and the way I danced a little bit, and the way I expressed my self, and I pushed boundaries on what I would considered fun. I learned to accommodate in order to make things work..
After true love number one, along came true love number two, after that came true love number three, third time’s the charm (here’s to hoping!).. I know now that love is not forever, and when it starts to fade it takes a lot of work to keep it going. I know now that you can only be happy with someone else if you are happy with yourself, and I know how difficult it is to really be on top of that because you yourself change with time and the influence of circumstances and the people in your life.
Is it possible that fairy tales and fantasy movies from our childhood have something to do with how far away reality seems from what we had expected it to be? Life in general but also specifically in the case of motherhood and marriage (with children).
Even the best guys are not good all the time. Even the strongest love subsides with time. Friendship isn’t always what we though it was. Love doesn’t necessarily endure, doesn’t conquer all. Not always does good win over evil. Sometimes the only way to go is towards an unhappy ending.. You are not necessarily going to be happy because you found a nice boy to marry. You won’t necessarily be a good mother (and your husband may not necessarily become a good dad). You may not be able to provide for your family as you had hoped you would.
In life a few things, or a lot, don’t go according to plan. There is a great chance things will improve when they are looking down, or they can keep going worse and then improve (maybe), that’s life. In the words of Dory: when live get’s you down just keep swimming, just keep swimming.. The movies we loved should have taught us that life is tough but things can always get better, not because of marriage to royalty or the kiss of a handsome prince charming (of course I’m thinking of Shrek now!), but because you are -hopefully- not alone, and time does allow for wounds to heal, and hard work usually bears fruit.. I’m glad the new generation of movies are getting more to the point. I like the analysis presented on a TED by Colin Stokes where he gives tips on how to pick the right movies to share with kids.
I still love my “old” children’s movies, they have become a sort of memorabilia of what I grew up with. I just hope that little girls watching these movies in the middle of the Amazon forest don’t go running off with boys at age 13 (which they do) because they think he’s going to be their prince charming..
My sister says there are no Happy Endings, just unfinished stories.. She may be right, but then that is also true for the opposite.. Any story can become a fairy tale in the right light and spiced with a little imagination.. Let’s keep the happy endings though, life is so much nicer when things seem to be looking up.
There is a perfect song to finish this post: Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty. Written by Tim Minchin for the new musical, Matilda, based on the story by Roald Dahl.
p.s. I have been directed to this link to Roald Dahl’s Cinderella, it’ll make yo laugh and goes straight to the point (thanks for the link aurvitoria!)