In honor of Gnomeo and Juliet, I thought I’d offer my readers a little retrospective. See, kid’s movies are a funny thing. Sure, on the surface they’re sweet and innocent, but by now, almost everybody knows about the other side. Most people know the “SEX” dust from The Lion King or the castle boner on The Little Mermaid cover art. But forget all those. I mean, sure, they’re kinda traumatizing considering that’s my childhood right there. besides, imagine the mind-numbing boredom that is working at Disney animating cells by hand and I’d probably be pretty tempted to throw in some dirty jokes here and there too.
But we’re seein’ a pretty big change in the way that kid’s view movies these days. Now, we have stuff like Gnomeo and Juliet. Now, I have a couple of complaints here so you folks are gonna have to bear with me. One, congratulations Jason Statham, but don’t expect to get asked to do Shakespeare ever again. Two, Shakespeare probably thought he had it bad with Baz Luhrmann, but then this happened. And finally, are we really pushing a product to our kids where the two protagonists end up killing themselves? Yeah, we’re not talkin’ victim of circumstance in the wrong place at the wrong time. They made an active choice to kill themselves. I mean, I hate to be that guy, but can garden gnomes even kill themselves?
In short, Gnomeo and Juliet features a boatload of material that one might worry about presenting their kids with, but eh, it’s a quick buck and I’m pretty sure most parents will do anything to get their kids out of the house. But I’d be kidding myself if I said that Gnomeo and Juliet was the first movie to capitalize on an inappropriate source text.
Another great example would be one of Disney’s earlier works, Cinderella. Now, Disney is famous for “tidying up” the unmentionables in their fairy tales. After all, the Grimm brothers could be, well… quite grim. But just to give audiences an idea of what to expect from the original Cinderella, voluntary cutting off of toes and parts of the step sister’s heels in order to fit into the glass slipper, which promptly fills up with blood, is one of the Grimm brothers way of handling things. Shocking that it didn’t make the final cut into Disney’s version, right?
But fairy tales have always been ripe for the picking. Think about how easy it is to manipulate or change their meaning into something else? I mean, seriously, it’s like the perfect set up. One of the “adaptations” that I’m most excited about is Catherine Hardwicke’s take on Little Red Riding Hood. See, Hardwicke, probably trying to cleanse her name of the stench of the Twilight franchise, decided to go in a totally different direction from those movies. Oh wait, her movie, Red Riding Hood is about a werewolf? Yeah, evidently she hasn’t learned her lesson.
What’s even funnier is that I’m not entirely sure where Hardwicke’s getting her material from… True, Little Red Riding Hood features a wolf and a girl, but the similarities pretty much end there. See, I’ve talked about this before, but for newer readers, I’ll refresh. Red Riding Hood is often read as a story about a young girl coming into womanhood. The wolf stands in for the predatory advances of men, so I think we can all get from point A to point B. Then, where does Hardwicke get a werewolf?
Fact of the matter is, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand what people take away from their source material. I mean for the most part I’m pretty sure it’s unadulterated capitalism at its most depraved, but there’s gotta be something else, right? At least I’m hoping there’s something more to it… but I should know better than that, shouldn’t I?