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And the high point of the story? An evil crone committing suicide by throwing herself into a cauldron of boiling water filled with toads, vipers, eels and snakes.
So how did the tale go from one as horrifyingly frightening as anything George R. Though Basile was one of the first to record various folk tales and stories of morality and whimsy, it was the Frenchman Charles Perrault who actually is considered the father of fairy tales because of his work in Yes, dear Hansels and Gretels, you read that correctly: The king, of course, orders that no flax or hemp should ever enter the castle.
Yet, after Talia grows up, she comes upon an old woman spinning the thread and … well, you know where this story goes, right?
A splinter under her fingernail causes her to fall dead; the king is beside himself with grief and locks his daughter away in a castle that he abandons forever. He rapes her in her comatose sleep. This more than years before Maleficent will become the infamous villain of the tale we now know. After this deed, our Talia is with child — in fact, two.
Incredibly, though, the child sucks the splinter from the finger and revives Talia from her slumber. The rapist king, perhaps as despots do, later remembers his time with Talia and goes to see her again, ultimately delighting in the fact that he now has a new young mistress and two young children.
The softhearted cook, however, puts off the deed as long as he can and kills a goat to cook and only pretends to serve the king his offspring. She then prepares a boiling cauldron of poisonous snakes and other horrible creatures and readies to throw the cook, the kids and our sweet Talia into their very un-Disneylike demise. At the last minute, though, the king arrives, forcing his wife to off herself by jumping into the roiling liquid death she, herself, had prepared for the innocents.
Thus endeth the story; goodnight, kids, sleep tight. So how did Perrault modify his version of the tale? Consider some of the changes: The addition of a slighted fairy who issues a curse why, hello, precursor to Maleficent! Want to blow your mind more, Prince Phillip?
Again, themes of sleeping maidens, protective barriers of thorns and abandoned castles fill the work and seemingly echo across the centuries with motifs popular in the tale today. And included in these tales is the cyclic appearance of Odin. Yes, that Odin, the ruler of Asgard, the father of Thor and the stepfather of Loki.
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Somewhere on the Internet, a blog probably discusses the Illuminati connection between Disney, Marvel comics and the ancients, and how Angelina Jolie makes all the pieces fall into place.
Though some scenes in some fairy tales rewritten by the Grimm brothers were sanitized, others were not. The stylized film was the last one that Disney made with hand-inked cels, as well. In keeping with the brothers Grimm adaptation of the story, the princess Aurora her name derived from the Tchaikovsky ballet production now was using the name Briar Rose in private. Thus, the boy-meets-girl plot line between Aurora and Prince Phillip was introduced. And the ageless slumber was reduced from a century to only a night.
There remained a villain, of course. But Maleficent hardly was an evil crone and, instead, was drawn as a sorceress of regal power.
And gone were any plot devices of murder or rape or cannibalism, too. Consider just two of the many themes: It was a tale that told both young and old: There is a natural order to things, and scary though they may be, life changes will bring love and happiness in the end.
So now, this weekend, we have yet another retelling of a familiar story from an age long past. Maybe it will change everything about the narrative we know or maybe it will have no effect.
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Regardless, it will entertain, if even for just a while. And it will keep alive the thought of the princess who once slept for a very long time, only to awaken to a new life.
A life where true love conquers all, Walt Disney told us.