Monday, February 18, 2008

li'l known stories 'bout li'l red riding hood

Remember Little Red Riding Hood, the Grimm brothers' tale about a girl and her grandma who were eaten by a wolf but saved by a huntsman?

1. In the oldest version, told by peasants in 14th century France, the wolf was a bzou (werewolf) who served the little girl her grandmother for dinner, prompting the house cat to lament, "For shame! The slut is eating her grandmother's flesh and drinking her grandmother's blood."

After this, the bzou asked her to take her clothes off and come to bed with him! When she finally wised up, she told the bzou that she needed to go out to relieve herself. Once outside, she untied the string around her ankle, attached it to a plum tree so her captor will think she was still restrained, and escaped to her freedom.

2. The first published version (1697) by Charles Perrault, however, was a tragedy – no huntsman came to the rescue. It was not a 'fairy' tale, but a cautionary one with a 'moral' at the end:

"Children, especially attractive, well-bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf.'

'I say "wolf," but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all."


3. James Finn Garner's politically correct version, first published in 1994, is hilarious! Imagine Little Red Riding Hood telling the wolf, "Grandma, what a big nose you have, only relatively, of course, and certainly attractive in its own way," and "Oh, I forgot you are as optically challenged as a bat. Grandma, what big eyes you have!"

In the end, when the 'woodchopper person' bursts into the cottage to save her, Little Red Riding Hood exclaims, "Sexist! Speciesist! How dare you assume that women and wolves can't solve their own problems without a man's help!" LOL

Guess who dies in the end?

4. The most shocking and gruesome version is a short film entitled BlackXXXmas, produced by Stryker Films, directed by Belgian Pieter Van Hees, and posted at atomfilms.com, the former entertainment portal for original short films and web shows. If you think you can handle it, you may view it here.

People, be careful which version you tell the kids, ok? :-D

(Top, right) The 'Cute' Bearbrick of Series 13, released in December 2006, was based on Little Red Riding Hood.

(Above, left) Cristophe Coppens red hood from citylifeantwerp.com (Above, right) Fairy tale illustration from encarta.msn.com

Info from Wikipedia, www.pitt.edu, philip.greenspun.com, www.northern.edu, scoop.diamondgalleries.com, januarymagazine.com, atomfilms.com

7 comments:

Socky said...

I've never heard of the first version. Weeeeiiird! But I have the Politically Correct Bedtime Stories book, which is hilarious reading.

Socky said...

...I meant the "oldest" version. Macabre!

Bearbrick Lover: said...

The oldest version was discussed by women's issues journalist Catherine Orenstein in her book, Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Story. Definitely not a bedtime story. :-)

mtan said...

Most of the fairy tales in their original forms were rather disturbing, lots of rape, incest, patricide/matricide/infanticide, etc. If you think about it, they've been diluted somewhat but can still reflect the savage nature of olden times. I love them, but I've got a strong morbid streak.

Bearbrick Lover: said...

I remember having both Grimms and Andersen books on my bedside when I was a kid. I must have a morbid streak, too! :-)

Carrie said...

I've never heard the oldest version of Little Red Riding Hood until now. Fascinating and disturbing!

I did a piece on Cinderella a few months ago, and one of the earliest versions of it is just as morbid as this one. The original story of Cinderella actually comes from China and is quite different from the tale we read today. At the end, the evil stepmother and stepsisters end up getting crushed to death in a shower of flying stones.

It amazes me that we have taken these graphic, cautionary tales and turned them into stories for children.

I still love reading fairy tales though, no matter how disturbing. I remember reading my favorite, The Little Mermaid, as a child and crying over the ending again and again.

Bearbrick Lover: said...

Carrie, fairy tales are bedside reading for me, too. I like the Grimms' stories more than Andersen's.