Tale as old as time, Beauty & the Beast totally got that right. Fairytales continue to be an important part in culture with many books, films and shows reinventing them, mixing up them with the modern and unique twists. Original versions of fairytales are quite dark, gruesome even appalling, for example Sleeping Beauty where the princess is raped and becomes pregnant while she sleeps….and she gets married to the rapist king and live happily after….
It makes me appreciate Disney and recent retellings more. It also makes me question the audience. Who are the intended audience or who should read fairytales? The answer: everyone. Up until a year ago, I used to hide my passion for fairytales because I was no longer a kid. Fairytales are more associated with kids and also seen as, well, childish and not serious by adults. If I direct these adults to the original versions, would they change their minds?
Sure, fairytales have magic, elves, monsters, princesses, wizards, knights in shining armour, talking animals, but they reflect life just like every story, served as cautionary tales, and there have deep meanings to them.
I started to let my love for fairytales out when I started to reading retellings in novel form including Ash, The Wrath & the Dawn and later A Court of Thorns & Roses. All are brilliant, by the way – you should read them.
They made me feel I’m not the only 15-years-old-and-older person who still loves fairytales, and so I revisited the original sources/the closest to the originals, read some Anderson and Brothers Grimm, and binge watch Disney classics. I also came across JRR Tolkien’s essay on fairytales. Even that grown up man appreciated them and wrote some of his own tales.
Despite sharing similar tropes, characters and plots (not that I mind), fairytales continue to evolve. It’s interesting that there are versions of the same story across the world and some including Beauty & the Beast date back to the ancients, even as far as the prehistoric times.
If there’s one thing that should be added in terms of retelling, I would say more diversity. The Lunar Chronicles is an interesting series with diverse characters, being set everywhere, in particular New Beijing. Fairytales from outside of Western culture should be explored. There have been lots of Cinderellas, Snow Whites and Beautys, so it would be refreshing to read about princesses from other parts of the world.
You’re never too old to read fairytales and don’t let others to tell you differently.