Thursday, October 22, 2015

COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN (Day 22): Nibble, Nibble, Little Mouse...

I took a break from the countdown last night.  I could blame a witch, but it was the sandman... that sumbitch hit me with both barrels last night and I couldn't keep my eyes open.  So here we go with what should have been last night's post...

Hansel and Gretel”, as we all know, is a widely known German fairy tale that was recorded and preserved by The Grimm Brothers and published in 1812.  It is the story of two starving children who save themselves from a cannibalistic witch after having been abandoned by their parents in the middle of a deep, dark forest.  And well, before we discuss it, here’s a link to the very short tale, itself:

And here’s where it’s explored a little bit:

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm heard the tale from Wilhelm’s friend Dortchen Wild, whom he later married, and published it originally in CHILDREN’S AND HOUSEHOLD TALES.  In this original version, the woodcutter and his wife are the biological parents of and are equally responsible for abandoning the children.  In later editions, the mother becomes a stepmother, the woodcutter argues against abandoning the kids and more religious references are made.

Clearly, it is a tale that reflects harsh times and it is theorized that it and other similar tales may have their origin in the medieval period of the Great Famine (circa 1315-1321), which was responsible for desperate people abandoning children or to even resort to cannibalism.  Of course, the eater of children is a witch, which is a common theme.

Iona and Peter Opie, two folklore experts point out that this story is one of several that are especially popular in the Baltic regions that are about children outwitting evil ogres or witches with whom they’ve become entrapped.  It resembles the first half of “Hop-o’-My-Thumb” by Charles Perrault (1697) and Madame d’Aulnoy’s “Finette Cendron” (1721) in which abandoned children follow a trail home.  The hero of “Clever Cinders” burns up a giant by shoving him into an oven just as Gretel does the witch.  Another tale like this is “The Lost Children”, which is French.

In the story, while the children are in the woods away from the woodcutter and his wife, she dies.  Many speculate that this indicates the mother/stepmother and the witch are, symbolically, the same woman.  A Russian folk tale of the Baba Yaga is about a stepmother, the wife of a woodcutter as well, asks her stepdaughter to borrow a light from her sister in the woods.  This “sister” turns out to be Baba Yaga, of course.

This here is Faerie Tale Theatre’s adaptation introduced by Shelly Duvall “Hansel and Gretel” starring that BITCH Joan Collins and sweet little Ricky Schroder as Hansel:

“Hansel und Gretel” in the original German (1971)

Tim Burton’s adaptation of Hansel and Gretel from 1982 for the Disney Channel that aired on Halloween with an all-Asian cast and some very prophetic Burton-isms!

And here’s some comic relief, Hansel and Gretel run into Witch Hazel and Bugs intervenes thusly in...
“Bewitched Bunny”

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