Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bluebeard


           Overall, I didn’t really care for any of the Bluebeard tales.  However if I had to choose one version I liked best, it would probably be “Mr. Fox” by Joseph Jacobs.   This tale had the most poetic composition and it read in an almost rhyming fashion.  In this tale, I especially liked the way Lady Mary was portrayed and the “Be Bold” phrase that was repeated multiple times.  Obviously, this tale was modeled on the Brothers Grimm’s “The Robber Bridegroom” since the plot is nearly the same.  The major difference is that the robber and bridegroom become named as Lady Mary and Mr. Fox in Jacob’s version.

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            In this tale, Lady Mary is at first enamored by Mr. Fox.  This is unlike all the other versions where the woman enters into something resembling an arranged marriage.  This also gives this version a slightly more whimsical feel and makes it more like a fairytale than any of the other versions.    

            I think the name Mr. Fox is clever and fitting for the male character.  Foxes generally are considered to be sneaky and cunning.  This mirrors the pattern of the male Bluebeard figure as he hides the bodies of the women he kills in his secret small room.  The ‘Lady’ title before Lady Mary’s name seems to suggest that she is both brave and cultured.  Other tales in the Bluebeard category are considered to be more folk related and not of the “happily ever after” variety.  This tale is certainly as gruesome as all the other versions with the various cut up bodies. 

            The phrase “Be Bold” first appears to Lady Mary when she arrives at the castle to visit Mr. Fox.  I think it suggests to her that she should be curious and brave, but not let it get the best of her, as it has Mr. Fox.  It also empowers all female readers that they should be cautious and curious.  Mr. Fox’s boldness is demonstrated in his willingness and apparent pride of keeping the women’s corpses in his own home.  His greed of the lady’s diamond ring is what leads to his eventual undoing.  I like how Lady Mary is able to provide exact evidence of the woman’s hand to Mr. Fox when he denies the claims she makes from her ‘dream’.  This shows both her bravery and her intelligence.  She knew that without physical proof she would likely have met the same fate as all the other women.  For someone who so carefully hid all the past ladies he had slain within his home, it was really careless of Mr. Fox to not search for the woman’s hand after he cut it off and couldn’t quickly locate it. 

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            The Bluebeard tales are certainly violent and unlike many of the commonly known fairy tales, but it does teach important lessons of being brave and confronting evils.  This version does not put the woman in as large a position of temptation and great curiosity as in most of the other versions; rather she is shown as a strong and admirable character. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sonne by Rammstein and Snow White


 

 
The music video, Sonne, by the German band, Rammstein makes symbolic references to the story of Snow White.  There are many similar repeated motifs and characters.  All of the band members are representations of the 7 dwarfs.  They are dirty and dressed as miners, much like the characters from the Brothers Grimm version.  The character of Snow White is much larger than the ‘dwarfs’.  She has to squeeze in their narrow doorway is visibly taller than all of them.  She is dressed in the colors and costume of Snow White from Disney’s interpretation of the story.  She has a long yellow skirt, a blue and red bodice, and a red bow in her hair.  She also has the quintessential ebony hair, as well as the white skin and ‘beautiful’ quality. 
In the music video, Snow White appears to be taking care of the dwarfs and doing much more than simply being their housekeeper.  She is seen spanking some of them.  At one point, she is seated and is admiring herself in a long mirror while one of the dwarfs brushes her hair.  They all visibly fawn over her by stroking her clothes at a later part.  She seems to be vainer and more concerned about her obvious beauty than either the Brothers Grimm or Disney’s Snow White character.  One of the dwarfs is also polishing apples at one point in the video.  This is a key reference to the Brothers Grimm and Disney versions of the story.  This Snow White also appears wilder than in the stories.  Her skirt has a long slit in it and she has on seductive high heels.  Also, when she joins the dwarfs at the table, there is a reference to the use of some gold powdered drug.  This is a far cry from Basile and Disney’s sweet and innocent young slave girl or Snow White. 
Snow White appears to be stabbed by one of the dwarfs, which causes her to fall into the sleep coma.  It was difficult for me to understand the German, but at one scene the dwarf has a sharp object in his hand and in the next they are carrying Snow White in her glass casket.  Soon after that scene a large apple falls on the casket, breaking the casket and waking Snow White up. 
After finding and translating the song lyrics from German to English on Google, I think there could also be some other alternative meanings to the song aside from the Snow White imagery.  The song itself is called Sonne, which means Sun.  I believe this could mean that the dwarfs treat Snow White as their Sun.  She is much larger than them and they do appear to revolve around her, much like the planets and the sun in our solar system.  Additionally, the sun could be connected to gold, which is what the dwarfs are mining for and also the color of the drug powder that Snow White uses.  The lyrics reference a sun coming and they count down numbers.  This could mean that the dwarfs knew Snow White was coming to them and that she would somehow become the center of their world.  The line, “She is the brightest star of all” could be a reference to Snow and the idea of her being the “fairest of them all”, as named by the Brothers Grimm and Disney. 
Personally, Snow White is my least favorite Disney movie and fairy tale in general, so it is difficult for me to choose a favorite.  I think I preferred the stories over this music video simply because there is more of a backstory provided and a clear conclusion.  This video only has Snow arriving at the dwarfs’ house and then being awakened at the end by the fallen apple.  It is certainly a unique interpretation of the story. 
 
Here are the translated song lyrics:
One, two, three, four, five,
Six, seven, eight, nine, from
Everyone is waiting for the light
Fear, fear not
The sun shines out of my eyes
You will not go down tonight
and the world counts loudly to ten
refrain:

One-Here comes the sun
Two-Here comes the sun
Three-she is the brightest star of all
Four Here comes the sun
The sun is shining out of my hands
It can burn, can dazzle you
If it breaks out of the fists
He lies down on the hot face
You will not go down tonight
And the world counts loudly to ten
refrain:

One-Here comes the sun
Two-Here comes the sun
Three-she is the brightest star of all
Four Here comes the sun
Five Here comes the sun
Six-Here comes the sun
Seven-she is the brightest star of all
Eight, nine, here comes the sun
The sun is shining out of my hands
It can burn, can blind you
If it breaks out of the fists
Sets are hot on your face
He lies down on his chest aching
The balance is the loss
Lets you go hard to the ground
And the world counts loudly to ten
refrain:

One-Here comes the sun
Two-Here comes the sun
Three-she is the brightest star of all
Four-and will never fall from the sky
Five Here comes the sun
Six-Here comes the sun
Seven-she is the brightest star of all
Eight, nine, here comes the sun