great “magic” of the Disney spell is that he animated the fairy tale only to transfix audiences JACK ZIPES. Breaking the Disney Spellt. It was not once upon a. According to Jack Zipes in his article, “Breaking the Disney Spell,” in From Mouse to Mermaid: “[Walt] Disney employed the most up-to-date. 2 Rumpelstiltskin and the Decline of Female Productivity. 3 Breaking the Disney Spell. 4 Spreading Myths about Iron John. 5 Oz as American Myth.

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Fairy tales were first told by gifted tellers and were based on rituals intended to endow meaning to the daily lives of members of a tribe. John Canemaker Los Angeles: The man’s spell over the fairy tale seems breakinh live on even after his death.

By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Rather, he is the entertainer who elevates the subtext of play found in his sources and dares once again to frighten children” Zipes argues that by the end of the nineteenth century, the literary fairy tale had the following crucial functions as institution in middle-class society:.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was to bring together all the personal strands of Disney’s own story with djsney destinies of desperate Americans, who sought hope and solidarity in their fight for survival during the Depression of the s. The king is so overwhelmed by his performance that he offers his daughter’s hand in marriage, but first he wants to know who the masked champion is.

At first it was obvious and literal; at the end it was subtle and cloaked in metaphors and symbolic imagery designed to facilitate the process and yet to keep the idea gratifying for the artist and the audience. They all have names—Doc, Sleepy, Bashful, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey—representative of certain human characteristics and are fleshed out so that they become the star attractions of the film.

What were the major prescriptions, expectations, and standards of the literary fairy tale by the end of the nineteenth century? But before the making of Snow White, there were important developments in his life and in the film industry that are important to mention in order to grasp why and how Snow White became the first definitive animated fairy- tale film — definitive in the sense that it was to define the way other animated films in the genre of the fairy tale were to be made.

Breaking the Disney Spell. So, she convinces the animals to help her make the cottage tidy so that the dwarfs will perhaps let her stay there. At the same time, Disney offsets the deprivation with the pleasure of scopophilia and inundates the viewer with delightful images, humorous figures, and erotic signs. She returns to life when the prince, who has searched everywhere for her, arrives and bestows a kiss on her lips.

Foundational Essay: Zipes’ “Breaking the Disney Spell”

From this point on, Disney became known for introducing all kinds of new inventions and improving animation so that animated films became almost as realistic as films with live actors and natural settings. Of course, there are numerous ways to read Perrault’s tale, but whatever approach one chooses, it is apparent that the major protagonist is the cat.


Most important were the gags, or the technical inventions of the animators ranging from the introduction of live actors to interact with cartoon characters, improving the movement of the characters so that they did not shimmer, devising ludicrous and preposterous scenes for the sake of spectacle, etc.

If children or adults think of the great classical fairy tales today, be it Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or Cinderella, they will think Walt Disney. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind.

Whatever the type may have been, the voice of the narrator was known. Along with its closure and reinforcement of patriarchy, the fairy tale also served to encourage notions of rags to riches, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, dreaming, miracles, etc.

Breaking the Disney Spell by Cassie Beckman on Prezi

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Private reading pleasure is replaced by pleasurable viewing in an impersonal cinema. Sometimes actors could even have lines, but still dsiney be credited for their work. His technical skills and ideological proclivities were so consummate that his signature has obfuscated the names of Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Collodi.

There are obviously mixed messages or multiple messages in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but the overriding sign, in my estimation, is the signature of Disney’s self-glorification in the name of justice.

The audience becomes nothing more than a viewer captured by the whim of the author, who controls how the audiences believes, thinks, and feels through the magic of the text, or in the case of animation, aipes allure of fantasy captured tne art.

What is good for Disney is good for the world, and what is good in a Disney fairy tale is good in the rest of the world. Though the forest and spekl animals do not speak, they are anthropomorphized. It was the phallic means to induce action and conceive a way out of a predicament. A narrator or narrators told tales to bring members of a group or tribe closer together and to provide them with a sense of mission, a telos.

What is good for Disney is good for the world, and what is good in a Disney fairy tale is good in the rest of the world. It is through the artful use of images that one can sway audiences and gain their favor.

Showing little reverence for literary tradition, Disney focused less of maintaining the integrity of the original text and focused more attention on displaying his innovative and technological accomplishments. It is the prince Disney who made inanimate figures come to life through his animated films, and it is the prince who is to be glorified in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs when he resuscitates Snow White with a magic kiss.

The tales came to represent the values of a particular writer; therefore, if the writer respected the canonical ideology of their predecessors e. Rather, it was in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that Disney fully appropriated the literary fairy-tale and made his signature into a trademark for the most acceptable type of fairy tale in the twentieth century.


The way Disney movies captivated the audience was magic. By the beginning of the nineteenth century when the Brothers Grimm set about to celebrate German culture through their country’s folk tales, the literary fairy tale had long since been institutionalized, and they, along with Hans Christian Andersen, Collodi, Ludwig Bechstein, and a host of Victorian writers from George MacDonald to Oscar Wilde, assumed different ideological and aesthetic positions within this institutionalization.

Fortunately, the animation of the literary fairy tale did not stop with Disney, but that is another tale to tell, a tale about breaking Disney’s magic spell. Printed animations, which had become widespread in Europe and America during the latter part of the nineteenth century, heralded in the age of comic books, which assisted in redefining our understanding of traditional interpretations of fairy tales.

Instead of using technology to enhance the communal aspects of narrative and bring about major changes in viewing stories to stir and animate viewers, he employed animators and technology to stop thinking about change, to return to his films, and to long nostalgically for neatly ordered patriarchal realms. When the hero reveals himself, the king is enraged, but the hero grabs the princess and leads her to the king’s chauffeur.

In the case of folk tales, they were gradually categorized as legends, myths, fables, comical anecdotes, and, of course, fairy tales. The oral tales continued to be disseminated through communal gatherings of different kinds, but they were also broadcast by radio and gathered in books by folklorists.

Throughout the entire production of this film, Disney had to be consulted and give his approval for each stage of development.

Very well written article. For instance, in the Grimms’ tale, when Snow White arrives at the cabin, she pleads with the dwarfs to allow her to remain and promises that she will wash the dishes, mend their clothes, and clean the house.

Just what were the changes he induced? According to Zipes, the French fairy tales heightened the aspect of the chosen aristocratic elite:.

I do believe that Walt Disney was trying to portray himself in a lot of his fairytale remakes by showing himself breaking out into the industry as the best as well as portraying the power taken from the rich and giving power to the people.

Yet, worship of the fairy tale as holy scripture is more of a petrification of the fairy tale that is connected to the establishment of correct speech, values, and power more than anything else.

It is here, Zipes contends, where Walt Disney and other animators arrived to appropriate our traditional understanding of fairy tales.