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  • Did you know that the Disney fairy tales you grew up with as a kid often have very dark origins?

  • In this episode, we will take the plunge into the story of Ariel, the Little Mermaid, to find out how and why Disney turned these stories into happy endings.

  • In the year 1712, a mermaid was captured just off the coast of the Island of Ambon in Indonesia.

  • According to lore, she survived in a tub for 4 days and 7 hours in the home of Samuel Fallours, an artist employed by the Dutch East India trading company, and then died.

  • His drawing of the mermaid made it into the scientific marine biology book called "Natuurlyke Historie", or "Natural History", published in 1719, as if the mermaid was as real as any other fish in the sea.

  • The belief in mythological creatures in the 18th century was still widespread, especially amongst sailors.

  • And if you have ever been on the open ocean, you can imagine why.

  • There is something mysterious about a vast body of wateryou never know what's lurking in the deep.

  • Although most of these mythological creatures are now in the realm of fables, some could actually be based on living animals, like the frightening Kraken.

  • It was long thought that sightings of giant squids were all fantasy, until Japanese researchers managed to actually record one on camera in 2004.

  • The first stories of mermaids date back to 5000 BC, and were part of Babylonian and Sumerian religions.

  • Both cultures worshipped a god of the seas that had the torso of a human and the tail of a fish.

  • In Greek Mythology, the so-called "sirens" with fishtails first made their appearance in the 7th century Before Christ (BC).

  • These sirens were known for shipwrecking sailors by luring them onto the rocks with their sweet singing voices and their pretty looks.

  • By the middle ages, the Catholic Church adopted these stories to warn their followers about the dangers of seduction.

  • And it worked; western sailors feared mermaids, as they were now associated with shipwrecks and drowning.

  • The enchanting nature of mermaids made them a very popular subject amongst artists.

  • Throughout the centuries, we see images of young and attractive half-human, half-fish creatures.

  • And sometimes, they were accompanied by their male counterparts, the merman.

  • But it was the image of the young and pretty mermaids that stuck and inspired Hans Christian Andersen to write his 1837 masterpiece, "The Little Mermaid".

  • In 1989, Disney adopted this story and gave life to one of their most iconic characters of all time, Ariel.

  • It might surprise you how many Disney movies are adaptations of Andersen's work.

  • "The Ugly Duckling", "The Little Match Girl", and, of course, this one, "The Snow Queen".

  • But the fairy tales by Andersen were a little darker than Disney's.

  • In the original version of "The Little Mermaid", she does not end up marrying the handsome prince and live happily ever after.

  • Her ordeal includes excruciating pain with every step she takes with her new legs, a devious plot to kill the prince, and, in the end, even her own death.

  • Disney's insight was to make stories like these a little more sweet, happy, and suitable for all ages.

  • They did this not only with Andersen's stories, but also with their adaptations of fairy tales by the Grimm Brothers.

  • In the original Cinderella story, for example, the evil stepsisters mutilated themselves badly in order to fit the slipper.

  • The first stepsister cut off her toes and the second stepsister cut off her heels.

  • And in the end, the elder sister even gets her eyes poked out by the white doves that are released at the Prince and Cinderella's wedding.

  • Quite vindictive.

  • Apparently, in the 19th century, people could still handle fairy tales that were dark and did not always have a happy ending.

  • Walt Disney, however, decided that fairy tales should have happy endings.

  • And this decision paid offjust look at the popularity of the modern remakes of their most famous movies.

  • The visual appearance of mermaids survived 5.000 years of history and has not changed that much, which is pretty impressive.

  • However, stories surrounding mermaids have changed.

  • From gods of the seas to evil demon temptresses to Arielquite a leap.

  • Fairy tales are like time capsules and can tell us a lot about the period they originated from.

  • So... what does Ariel tell us about our time?

  • And what do you think?

  • Is it art?

  • Let us know in the comments whether you think mermaids can be art or not, and let us know your suggestions for future episodes of "Is This Art?"

  • And if you have any other ideas, or feedback maybe, make sure to leave that as well!

  • Our team is always working hard to make sure that this series is the best it can be.

  • Thanks for watching.

Did you know that the Disney fairy tales you grew up with as a kid often have very dark origins?

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How Disney turns dark fairytales around

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    Elise Chuang 發佈於 2021 年 12 月 03 日
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