Brothers Grimm fairy tales that aren’t (and shouldn’t be) movies
The Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales are amongst the most famous and widely-read literary creations of the last millennium; often imitated, adapted and retold, they are well known for their gothic elegance and cautionary overtones. Whilst many of these stories have been adapted for the screen, the Brothers’ massive canon contains many tales which have not as yet been given the celluloid treatment. Maybe this is a good thing, as these unsavoury examples show us…
Hansel and Gretel
Never given a particularly high profile adaptation, Hansel and Gretel is nevertheless one of the best known of the fairy tales. Every child knows the story of the two young leads, abandoned in the woods by their wicked stepmother and forced to outwit an evil witch, bent on eating them in her gingerbread house. So why haven’t Hollywood had a go? It would be easy to pull in the punters with this, right? Well, shooting for that lucrative U certificate might prove tricky when dealing with such themes as cannibalism, murder by asphyxiation and child abuse. Plus, it would be tricky to modernise this – replace the woods with a South London estate perhaps? The gingerbread house would have its door kicked in by a baying mob quicker than you can say “Paulsgrove children’s doctor”. Perhaps this would be best left alone – it’s hard to imagine how a CGI 3D fest would depict Hansel’s feigned lapse into “manorexia” in an attempt to ward off the witches advances…
The Girl Without Hands
A farmer’s daughter is desired by the Devil himself, whose attempts to seduce her away are foiled by the fact that she is without sin – her hands are clean. In an attempt to ward off pesky Beezlebub, the charming rustic fellow takes an axe to his daughter’s forearms so that her hands will never be soiled by sin. Nice work, Pops! All is well in the end though; after the girl marries the King, is given silver hands (like Dr. No) and gives birth to a son (who the Devil of course has a crack at killing along with her), the spell is broken, leaving the girl’s missing digits to grow back. This could be interpreted as an unhappy ending, as the silver hands thing sounds so much better than the lame fleshy originals. Can’t see the bigwigs getting hold of this one in a hurry.
The Three Army Surgeons
Our title characters are enjoying a visit to a local inn, and, as you do after a few pints, decide to impress the innkeeper by performing surgery on themselves. The first removes his own hand, the second his own heart and the third his own eyes. Unfortunately, the owner’s pesky moggy runs off with the squidgy stuff it finds kept in the cupboard overnight, and the innkeeper’s daughter’s lover has to find replacements. Having cut off a dead thief’s hand, a pig’s heart and some cat’s eyes, it would appear the job is done. However the organs don’t work correctly when reinstalled, and the three surgeons return to the inn and threaten to burn it down unless the innkeeper pays them. He pays them enough money to retire in order to get rid of them. Unfortunately the blameless innkeeper doesn’t seem to grasp that three men who are variously blind, one-handed and WITHOUT A HEART just aren’t the threat they claim to be. This just isn’t film material, unless pre-Lord Of The Rings Peter Jackson had fancied it.
The Story Of The Youth Who Went Forth To Learn What Fear Was
Possibly the most unappealing protagonist in literary history, the titular young man wishes to learn how to shudder in fear, since he believes himself to be fearless. A series of hilarious adventures follow, in which he breaks his father’s leg, sets fire to several hanged bodies before stringing them up again, beats an old man with an iron bar, watches as half a corpse tumbles down his chimney, and polishes it all off by playing skittles with the severed legs and skulls of yet more dead bodies. For some reason this unbalanced behaviour is rewarded in the end, when the King allows him to marry his daughter and live happily ever after. When Disney commissions a film version of this, we would imagine they might want to tweak the moral of the story a little….
The Robber Bridegroom
A young woman is to be married off by her father, who finds a rich suitor. The man asks her to visit his home in the woods, and upon arrival she is told by, quite literally, a little bird that it is the home of a murderer. An old woman living there tells her that the inhabitants will kill and eat her if she is discovered, and hides her. The groom and his companions return home with another young woman who they proceed to slaughter and eat in front of the heroine; in one particularly graphic piece of description, the woman’s severed ring finger flies across the room and lands in the heroine’s bodice. She soon escapes, and when the day of the wedding arrives tells the guests of the strange dream she had whereby the groom had been eating a woman. This is soon proved to be no dream as she discovers the finger still on her person – she had evidently not washed in all this time. The groom and his buddies are all killed and everyone lives happily ever after. This essentially sounds like a nightmarish cross between Beauty and The Beast and Wrong Turn, and needs to be made now!