10 WTF Stories Behind DISNEY MOVIES
Welcome Top10Archive! Be our guest as we twist some colorful animations into dark and grisly fairy-tales. Like many production companies, Disney borrows inspiration from previously existing tales to bring its colorful animations to life; but did you know that a bulk of these are inspired by gruesome stories of deception, death, malice, and murder? Here, we’ll take a look at the grim truths behind some of Disney's favorite lovable stories.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
In the original Grimm’s tale of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, then titled, “Little Snow-White”, the general story remains the same. An evil queen seeks to kill Snow White when her ego-boosting mirror exclaims that Little Snow-White is a thousand times fairer. In the Grimm’s version, the queen attempts three times to kill the girl, almost succeeding the third time when Snow White almost chokes on an apple. Luckily for Snow White, who had been coerced to work as a slave for the seven dwarfs, a handsome prince stumbled upon the beauty and paid the dwarfs to have Snow White, encased in her glass coffin, brought to his abode. During the trip, the coffin was dropped and the apple dislodged from Snow White’s throat. A romantic meeting, indeed. To punish the old queen for her rancid deeds, the dwarfs invited her to the prince and Snow White’s wedding, forcing her to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dropped dead.
Young ladies across the globe dreamt of the night that their Prince Charming would awaken them from an endless sleep, but few thought about the prospect of being raped by said prince. In the original story of “Sleeping Beauty”, titled “Sun, Moon, and Talia” and written by Giambattista Basile, the king stumbles upon the castle where Sleeping Beauty lay and decides to enter it, finding only the snoozing lady. Rather than attempt to wake her, the king carries her to her bed and rapes her before returning home to his wife and two kids. Talia only awakens after one of her children, whom she birthed while still sleeping, inadvertently sucks the flax that caused her deep sleep from her finger. The king returns sometime later, tells Talia of their interesting encounter, they fall in love, and they live happily ever after. That is, of course, only after the king’s current wife unsuccessfully sought to feed him his illegitimate children and set Talia ablaze in a fire.
The Little Mermaid
In April of 1837, Danish author Hans Christian Andersen created what would become one of Disney’s most beloved tales. Titled “The Little Mermaid”, the story deviates from Disney’s version quite a bit, with the mermaid (Ariel in Disney’s retelling), leaving the prince to live happily ever after with another; and by leaving, I mean submerge herself into the ocean to succumb to the Sea Witch’s curse and dissolve into sea foam. The little mermaid is given the choice to become a mermaid once again, but it would require the blood of the prince to drip onto her feet. So much for Happily Ever After.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Remember at the end of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” when Quasimodo was accepted into society and was hailed as a hero? Adorable, right? How would you feel if you knew that in the original tale, told by novelist Victor Hugo in 1831, Esmeralda is wrongfully hung for the alleged attempted murder of Captain Phoebus, a man that had interest in her. Claude Frollo, Quasimodo’s adoptive father, framed Esmeralda for the attempted killing, hoping to kill off Phoebus after seeing the Captain try to seduce the Gypsy dancer. At the future Disney princess’ hanging, Quasimodo witnesses his father laugh and he pushes him from the top of Notre Dame, killing him. The hunchback cowers away in Montfaucon, a Paris graveyard where the condemned are dumped, where he holds Esmerelda’s body until he starves to death.
The mischievous wooden toy, Pinocchio, had a penchant for getting into trouble in Disney’s animated movie, but his antics are much worse in Carlo Collodi’s 1883 version, “The Adventures of Pinocchio”. In the old tale, the wood boy runs away the moment he learns how to walk. Genet is arrested for abusing Pinocchio after police find the boy during his initial journey. When Pinocchio returns home, he encounters a cricket that warns him of the detriments that come with sybaritic pleasures; but, like any sane person that finds a bug in their home, Pinocchio kills it and continues on his merry way. The story also touches on a fox and a cat that rob and tries to hang Pinocchio and Pinocchio accidentally burning his feet off, deviating quite a bit from the animated film.
The Fox and the Hound
Time to get out the tissues, because this is a miserable one. The animated story of Tod the fox and Copper the bloodhound is accented with happy wildlife and lots of bright colors, but there’s nothing happy-go-lucky about Daniel P. Mannix’s 1967 novel. The book is rather dry in that it’s a book about two animals who are, really, just being animals. There’s no clever banter between the two to lighten the mood, and boy does the mood need some lightening. Towards the beginning of the book, Tod is taunting Chief, a younger dog owned by Copper’s master. The ensuing chase leads to Chief being hit by a train, the Master becoming devastated, and the start of Copper’s hunt for Tod to regain his owner’s love. Unlike the animated movie where Tod gets into hijinx in the forest, the book is a straightforward hunt; and the ending is devastating to animal lovers. Tod dies from exhaustion and Copper is eventually shot by his Master, who agrees to live in a nursing home.
Disney’s Hercules is a fun little tale about the heroic son of Zeus, but anybody that knows Greek mythology also knows that there is nothing fun and little to be read. The story of Hercules begins with Zeus‘ raping a mortal woman, Alcmene. What follows is a story that would fit perfectly in a modern Soap Opera. Though his strength is constant between Disney’s version and the more adult iteration, being a hero wasn’t necessarily high on Hercules’ list. Hercules was said to have murdered his music teacher, Linus, and the three children bore by his first wife, Megara, whom he is also suspected of killing.
What a cute little story about fairy godmothers, the power of true love, and ugly step sisters, right? The story behind Cinderella didn’t change much in Disney’s colorful adaptation, though there is no fairy godmother or magical pumpkin carriage. Also, the step sisters are pretty messed up, going so far as to cut off a toe or a portion of their heal to make Cinderella’s slipper fit and win over the charming prince. Even more morbid, at the wedding of Cinderella and her fair prince, the step sisters have their eyes pecked out by birds.
Beauty and the Beast
Surprisingly, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is pretty close to the source material, though some more adult elements were left out of the child-friendly animation. For one, Belle’s sisters, who grow wildly jealous of her happiness at the Beast’s castle, attempt to get her eaten alive by begging her to stay with them, which would break a promise she made to the beast to return him on a certain night. Belle’s knowledge of the beast also comes at her father’s doing, who came across the beast. After accepting the strange figure’s hospitality, Belle’s father plucks a rose from a bush, inciting rage within the Beast that almost has him murder his guest. Surprisingly, nobody dies in Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s fairy tale, but it’s still laden with plenty of heavy themes.
The Lion King
The Lion King certainly isn’t the first story to be adapted in some way from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it certainly is the first to be intended for a child audience. While some dispute the basis of the movie off of the play, filmmakers of the film have outright confirmed the claim. Disney doesn’t really change much about Hamlet, essentially swapping Claudius, the King, and Hamlet for Scar, Mufasa, and Simba respectively. There can also be similarities derived between the comical Timon and Pumbaa and Hamlet’s friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. All that’s missing from the ending is the tragic death of Simba, which would mirror the death of Hamlet.