The Dark Stories Your Favorite Disney Movies Are Actually Based On

Photo: Moviestore/REX Shutterstock.
February 26 is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day. This, of course, makes us think of the preeminent teller of fairy tales in our culture: Disney. The thing is, Disney is not the originator of the tales it tells. Ol’ Walt wasn’t sitting around in his apartment on Main Street concocting tales about little mermaids and magical lamps. I mean, it’d be cool if he had been, but Walt Disney had other things on his mind. Mice named Mickey and ways to make people linger in his parks longer, for example. I imagine his scratchpad contained notes like, “Enclose entire thing under massive roof? No, would lose so much money selling plastic ponchos when it rains.”

Anyway, Disney and his team of animators merely adapted tales about Cinderella and Snow White into feature films that became beloved classics. They found source material in folklore from various cultures and countries, although the majority of the Disney Princesses’ back stories seem to come from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

Before these stories could be told to impressionable young children via the Disney conduit, however, they had to be cleaned up and neutered. The stories needed to get that oh-so-recognizable Disney formula — you know, the pretty Princesses have to find their perfect, handsome Princes, the big bad whatever must be thwarted, and everyone has to live happily ever after. In many cases, though, they also needed to undergo some massive changes to eliminate some horrifyingly dark details that you might never know exist in the originals if you only know the Disneyfied versions.

Well, on this National Tell a Fairy Tale Day, we’re going to tell you the real versions of your favorite Disney fairy tales. It’s time to blow the lid off the twisted, sordid details in The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen (the basis of Frozen), and more beloved tales that became Disney classics. Are you ready? Say it with me: Once upon a time...
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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Year of Disney adaptation: 1937

Story Disney told you: Snow White lives in a palace with her vain and wicked stepmother, the Evil Queen, who asks her Magic Mirror who the fairest person in the land is on the reg. She’s afraid that the answer is going to be Snow White, so she forces her stepdaughter to work as a scullery maid.

One day, her greatest fear comes true, and the Magic Mirror confirms that Snow White is the fairest in the land. The Queen orders her Huntsman to kill Snow White in the forest. He can’t do it, so he tells her to run away and never return.

Snow White discovers a cottage in the woods inhabited by seven dwarfs named Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy, Bashful, and Doc. They learn to live harmoniously together, with the dwarfs working in the jewel mines during the day while Snow White keeps the cabin clean with the help of her woodland creature friends (even Disney fairy tales conform to gender stereotypes).

When the Queen finds out that Snow White is still alive (the Magic Mirror blows up her spot when it says that S.W. is still the fairest in the land), she transforms into an old hag and journeys to the cottage to pay Snow White a visit. The hag gives Snow White a poisoned apple, which causes Snow White to fall into a sleeping death that can only be broken by love’s first kiss.

The dwarfs put Snow White in a glass coffin in a clearing in the forest and watch over her with her adorable animal friends. Eventually, a prince Snow White met once upon a time finds out about what happened to her, visits her in repose, and offers up true love’s first kiss. Snow White awakens, everyone celebrates, and the two return to the prince’s castle.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Planet.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Source material:
Snow White by the Brothers Grimm (1812)

Original story: The beginning is pretty much the same. The Queen (Snow White’s stepmother) is infinitely jealous of her beauty, so she tells her Huntsman to take Snow White to the forest and kill her. The Huntsman can’t bring himself to do so because Snow White is so beautiful (beauty is almost a painfully recurring theme in the tale of “Little Snow White”), so he tells her to run away.

When the dwarfs find her in their cabin, they also cannot banish Snow White because of her beauty, but they don’t mind asking her to cook and clean for them. Unlike the Disney tale, it takes the Queen three tries to almost kill Snow White.

First, she disguises herself as a peddler and gets Snow White to invite her into the cabin to try on some bodice lace. She pulls the laces so tightly that Snow White passes out. The dwarfs revive her and make her promise not to open the door for anyone again.

Next, the Queen makes a poisoned comb and returns to the cottage in disguise as a different old woman. Even though Snow White swore not to open the door, she’s so taken with the comb that she lets the old woman in and allows her to comb her hair. She falls unconscious with the poisoned comb in her hair, which the dwarfs discover when they return home after work. Snow White comes to and recalls what happened, and they tell her not to open the door anymore.

She does, of course, open the door one final time when the Queen returns in the form of a peasant woman bearing a delicious-looking apple. Snow White takes a bite and immediately falls into a sleeping death. The dwarfs discover her in that state and build a glass coffin for her because they’re unable to bury the beautiful Snow White, whose cheeks still look rosy and full of life, underground.

One night, a prince seeks shelter in the dwarfs’ cottage and falls in love with Snow White and her beautiful coffin (seriously, he loves both the dead-looking girl and the well-adorned coffin). He convinces the dwarfs to give him the coffin, and as his servants are carrying it away, one of them trips and drops the coffin a little. When this happens, the piece of apple Snow White ate becomes dislodged from her throat, and she wakes up. Seriously; that’s it, she just needed the Heimlich maneuver.

The prince declares his love for the now-revived Snow White, and says that she’s going to come to his father’s castle to be his wife. Talk about free will. Apparently, Snow White is into this plan, though.

Snow White’s stepmother is invited to the wedding, but as she’s getting ready, she just has to ask the Magic Mirror who the fairest in the land is for old time’s sake. The Mirror says it’s the new young queen, of course. This frightens the Queen, but she goes to the wedding anyway. While she’s there, they stick a pair of iron shoes into burning coals and force the Queen to put them on. Then, she has to dance in the smoldering shoes until she dies.

Key differences: The seven dwarfs’ whimsical names were Disney creations. It takes three tries for the Queen to put Snow White into the sleep of death in the Brothers Grimm version, rather than just the poison apple attempt seen in the Disney version. In the Grimm's story, Snow White wakes up when the piece of poison apple gets dislodged from her throat when her coffin is jostled as opposed to from the prince’s kiss. The Disney version also omits the whole death by molton shoes and dancing scenario.
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Year of Disney adaptation: 1950

Story Disney told you:
Cinderella’s kind widowed father thinks she needs a mother, so he remarries Lady Tremaine, who comes with two daughters of her own, Drizella and Anastasia. After Cinderella’s father passes away, Lady Tremaine turns her into a scullery maid, and her stepsisters treat Cinderella like a poor servant, even though they’re living in Cinderella’s house. Cinderella is still a kind and loving soul, and she has tiny woodland creatures as friends.

Elsewhere in the kingdom, the king wants Prince Charming to choose a bride, so they throw a ball, inviting every eligible maiden to attend. With help from her fairy godmother and the mice, Cinderella is able to make it to the palace, where she and the prince fall in love. When the clock strikes midnight, though, Cinderella flees from the palace, leaving her glass slipper behind. Her carriage turns back into a pumpkin; her dress back into its formerly raggedy state.

Prince Charming sets off through the kingdom to find the woman whose foot fits the glass slipper. When he gets to Cinderella’s house, she starts humming the song played at the ball, and Lady Tremaine realizes that she’s the owner of the slipper. She locks Cinderella in the attic when the prince and his royal shoe brigade arrive. Drizella and Anastasia try to shove their big feet into the slipper to no avail.

The mice steal the attic key and free Cinderella, but Lady Tremaine breaks the glass slipper, knowing that it will fit. No matter; Cinderella produces the matching shoe, proving that she was the mystery woman at the ball. She and the prince marry and live happily ever after.
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Photo: Courtesy of CreateSpace Publishing.

Source material: Cendrillon; or, The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault (1697)

Original story: Versions of the Cinderella story have existed in different cultures throughout the world starting as early as the first century. Disney based its animated 1950 fairy tale mostly on Cendrillon, which comes from Perrault’s Histoires ou contes du temps passé. Perrault’s version differed from prior ones in that it introduced the cinders that cover our heroine every morning when she wakes up (thus earning her the nickname Cinderella), the fairy godmother, the pumpkin carriage and the all-important glass slippers that only fits the feet of the most kind and gentle woman in the kingdom.

Key differences: Disney omitted the part of Perrault’s tale where Cinderella forgives her stepsisters’ trespasses and allows her new husband to find lords to marry them. The animated adaptation added in the conniving cat Lucifer, who tries to stop the mice from getting the attic key to Cinderella, and, of course, the songs. What’s Cinderella without a little “Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo?”
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Sleeping Beauty

Year of Disney adaptation: 1959

Story Disney told you: After years of wishing for a child, King Stefan and Queen Leah welcome Princess Aurora. At her christening, she is betrothed to Prince Phillip, the son and heir to a nearby kingdom. Also present are three fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, who bestow Aurora with gifts. Flora gives the princess beauty; Fauna gives her song. Before Merryweather can present her gift, the evil witch Maleficent appears.

Maleficent is angry that she wasn’t invited to Aurora’s christening, and she places a curse on the infant. When the sun sets on Aurora’s 16th birthday, she’ll prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. After Maleficent vanishes, Merryweather is able to slightly change her curse, making it so that Aurora will only fall into a deep slumber. She can be awakened from this sleep by true love’s kiss.

In order to keep his daughter safe, King Stefan has all the spinning wheels in the kingdom destroyed. The fairies don’t think this is enough of a precaution, so they take Aurora to a woodcutter’s cabin in the woods to raise her under the name of Briar Rose until her 16th birthday, when they plan to reveal her true identity, and also reveal themselves as fairies.

On the day of her 16th birthday, Aurora is gathering berries and singing when Prince Phillip hears her beautiful voice. They fall in love at first sight and have no idea that they’re actually betrothed. Rose tells Philip to come to cottage to meet her family that evening, but when she returns to her home, the fairies tell her that she’s actually a princess named Aurora, and that she’s betrothed to a prince. She’s dismayed when they tell her that she’s promised to another.

Back at his the palace, Philip tells his father that he’s in love with the peasant girl he just met and wants to marry her. His father, of course, says no. As a wise man named Will Smith once said, “Parents just don’t understand.”

When the fairies take Aurora back to her own palace, Maleficent appears and lures the princess away, using magic to trick her into touching a spinning wheel. Aurora fulfills the curse and drops into a deep sleep. The fairies place her on a bed in a high tower, then cast a spell that puts all of the people in the kingdom to sleep as well. They also realize that the man Aurora met in the forest was actually her betrothed, Prince Philip, and they set about getting him up to the tower to bestow true love’s kiss upon her lips.

Unfortunately, Maleficent also catches on to what’s happening, and she does everything possible to thwart Phillip, like putting a forest of thorns around of the castle. Finally, she transforms into a giant dragon to fight him. The fairies give the prince the Shield of Virtue and Sword of Truth to help him in battle, and he throws the sword into Maleficent’s heart, making her plunge to her death.

With all the obstacles out of his way, Prince Phillip scales the tower and places a kiss on Aurora’s lips to break the curse over not just his true love, but the entire kingdom. Everyone lives happily ever after.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hythloday Press.
Sleeping Beauty

Source material: Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault (1697) and Little Briar-Rose by the Brothers Grimm (1812)

Original story of Grimm’s Briar-Rose: Original story of Grimm’s Briar-Rose: In the Grimm’s version the King and Queen hope for a child, but never have one. One day while the Queen is bathing, a frog tells her that she’s finally going to have a daughter.

After the baby is born, the King wants to invite all of the wise women in the kingdom to a feast celebrating her birth. There are 13 wise women, though, and he only has 12 golden plates for them to eat from. The wise women in attendance all gift little Briar-Rose with gifts like beauty, virtue, and wealth.

Before the 12th wise woman can offer her gift, the uninvited 13th woman storms into the celebration and places a curse on the princess. She says that when the Princess is 15, she will prick herself on a spindle and die. The 12th wise woman is able to reverse the curse slightly, making it so that Briar-Rose will fall into a 100-year sleep when she is pricked, rather than dying.

The King has all spinning wheels removed from the kingdom, but he misses one that’s locked in an old tower of the castle. One day when Briar-Rose is 15, she wanders up there and pricks her finger on it, fulfilling the curse. Not only does Briar-Rose fall into a deep sleep, so does everyone in the castle. They just freeze in motion right where they are.

At the same time, a hedge of thorns begins to grow around the castle. It grows higher every year until it encases the castle entirely, hiding it from view. Now, the only memory of Briar-Rose that remains is through legend. From time to time, Princes tried to rescue her from her tower, but they became trapped in the brambles and died.

Eventually, a young man hears about the sleeping Princess and vows to reach her. It’s coincidentally the day Briar-Rose is going to wake up from her 100-year slumber. When he reaches the thorn hedge, it miraculously turns into gloriously large flowers, and he passes through with ease.

In the tower, the Prince kisses Briar-Rose awake, which also awakens her parents and everyone else in the palace. The two wed and live happily ever after.

Original story of Perrault’s Sleeping Beauty: The beginning of Perrault’s tale is very similar to that of the Grimms’ tale of Little Briar-Rose, although in Perrault’s version, the wise women are fairies, and there are seven rather than 13. There are some other subtle differences that basically boil down to Perrault being so very French, like the fact that when the Prince stumbles upon the Princess (not named Briar-Rose), he wants to remark that her clothes are 100 years out of date — they resemble those of his grandmother — but he’s far too head-over-heels in love with her to say. Plus, they don’t take away from her beauty, and really, isn’t that what’s important here (she said with great sarcasm)?

Where the Perrault tale diverges immensely from that of Briar-Rose is in the second part of the story. Yes, there’s a part two, and oh, is it a doozy. You see, after the Prince and Princess marry, they have two children: a daughter named Dawn (which is where Disney’s creative team got the name Aurora for their princess), and a son named Day. The Prince tries to keep his family a secret from his mother and father because his mother is an ogre with a propensity for eating small children.

Unfortunately, the Prince’s father passes away, and he becomes king, which means he has to tell his subjects about his wife and children. He also has to introduce them to his mother.

A few years later, the now-King is forced to go to war, and he appoints his mother Queen Regent in his absence. He also asks her to look after his wife and children. As soon as he leaves, his mother tells her steward that she wants to eat Dawn for dinner.

Her steward can’t bear to kill and cook Dawn, so he hides her with his own wife and instead serves the queen regent a young lamb. He repeats the process when the Queen Regent says she wants to eat Day. When the Queen Regent asks to be served their mother, she actually begs the steward to kill her, because she doesn’t realize that he actually spared Dawn and Day, and she wants to be reunited with her dead children.

The steward tells the young Queen that he didn’t kill Dawn and Day; he just hid them, and he reunites mother and children. Unfortunately, the ogress overhears the children and their mother, and she’s angry about being tricked. She demands that a huge vat filled with poisonous snakes and toads be placed in the courtyard so that the young Queen, Dawn, and Day can be cast into it.

Right when this is about to happen, the King rides back into town and demands to know what’s happening. The ogress is so horrified at what she’s done that she throws herself into the vat. The King is sorry about his mother’s death, but he eventually finds happiness with his wife and kids.

Key differences: Disney chose to scrap the brutal second act in Perrault’s tale entirely, what with the scary ogress and her child-eating and the vat of snakes and all that. The writers also did away with the 100-year timespan both the Grimm and Perrault version place on the Princess’s curse because it felt too long within the context of the movie. Instead, Aurora can be awakened by “true love’s kiss” at any time during her slumber.

Disney did add some scary elements of its own, like Maleficent and her transformation into a dragon for her final battle with Prince Phillip.
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The Little Mermaid

Year of Disney adaptation: 1989

Story Disney told you: Princess Ariel, one of the mermaid daughters of King Triton, longs to know more about life in the human world. She collects anything she can get her hands on from outside the ocean in a cavern and dreams of walking on the shores.

One day, Ariel falls in love with Prince Eric while watching his birthday celebration aboard a ship. She then saves his life when a violent storm causes his ship to sink. Although he’s unconscious, Eric hears Ariel singing to him and vows to find the woman with the beautiful voice when he recovers.

Ariel also wants to return to Eric, so she strikes a bargain with Ursula the sea witch. She trades Ursula her voice in exchange for legs. If Ariel can’t make Eric fall in love with her and kiss her in three days, she’ll become Ursula’s prisoner forever.

Ursula doesn’t play fair, of course, and she tries to jeopardize Ariel’s romance with Eric by crashing their courtship in the form of a beautiful stranger named Vanessa, who has Ariel’s voice. Ursula also enchants Eric to make him fall in love with Vanessa, and the two are set to wed.

Sebastian the crab rushes to inform Triton of Ursula’s machinations, while Ariel’s various sea creature friends disrupt the wedding, breaking Ursula’s enchantment over Eric. Unfortunately, it’s too late for him to kiss Ariel within the three-day window, and Ariel is transformed back into a mermaid.

Triton volunteers to take his daughter’s place, surrendering his role as king of the sea. A power-mad Ursula seizes his trident and grows to a monstrous size (this is actually terrifying to witness; how is this a children’s movie?), and it’s only when Eric impales her on the bow of his destroyed ship that the gigantic sea witch is destroyed. All of the creatures she’d previously turned into polyps — including Triton — are returned to their prior forms.

Ariel convinces her father that Eric is her one true love, and he agrees to change her into a human so they can wed. They get married and sail away.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.
The Little Mermaid

Source material: The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Original story: The Little Mermaid, who is 14, learns more about the human world that fascinates her so from her grandmother. When the Sea King’s daughters turn 15, they’re allowed to sit on the rocks on the surface of the ocean to see the ships, woods, and towns. They’re fascinated by what they see, but they get homesick for their home under the sea.

The mermaids in Andersen’s tale are like the Sirens in Greek mythology. They sit on rocks and sing during storms, singing about the beauty of the bottom of the ocean. The sailors cannot understand them, though; they confuse the mermaids’ voices with the sounds of the storm. If they end up in the sea king’s palace, it’s because they’ve drowned.

When the Little Mermaid finally turns 15, she journeys to the surface and sees the Prince’s birthday celebration on his ship. She saves him when the ship goes down, and she falls hopelessly in love with him. When she returns to her home under the sea, she grows listless and uninterested in all of her usual activities, so lovesick is she. She longs to be part of the human world.

The Little Mermaid’s grandmother explains the key difference between humans and mermaids: Humans have much shorter lifespans because they have immortal souls. When they die, they float up to the heavens and live forever in a beautiful paradise. Mermaids can live to be 300, but after they die, they turn into foam on the sea. Their souls aren’t immortal.

The Little Mermaid says that she would gladly give up her 300-year life if she could live but one day as a human with the prince, so she journeys to visit the sea witch. The Sea Witch agrees to give her a pair of legs, but every step she takes on them will feel like the Little Mermaid is walking on “knife blades so sharp that blood must flow.” Once she becomes a human, she can never see her sisters or fathers again, nor can she return to her underwater home. And if she doesn’t win the Prince’s love and marry him, the Little Mermaid’s heart will break, and she’ll become seafoam. On top of all of that, the Little Mermaid must surrender her voice to the sea witch to make it harder to captivate the Prince. To do this, the witch cuts off her tongue.

When the Little Mermaid finally meets the Prince, she does indeed enchant him, but her feet constantly bleed so that everyone can see, and she’s in constant pain every time she uses her legs. At night, she relieves them in the cold sea, where her sisters come to the surface to tell her how unhappy her decision has made their family.

Finally, the Prince tells the Little Mermaid that he loves her, but the way one loves a little child. His one true love is the young girl who once rescued him from the shipwreck, who is, of course, the Little Mermaid. The Prince is set to marry a Princess from a nearby kingdom, but he confesses he wishes he could marry his “mute foundling” (read: the Little Mermaid) instead.

Unfortunately, when the Prince sees the Princess, he thinks it’s the young maiden who rescued him from the shipwreck all those years ago. The two marry, and the Little Mermaid dances the night away while her feet feel like daggers. The pain is a reminder that when the sun rises, she’ll die and become seafoam.

Before this happens, her sisters rise from the deep and tell the Little Mermaid that they cut off their hair and traded it to the sea witch for an enchanted knife. If the Little Mermaid uses it to kill the Prince before sunrise, she’ll regrow her tail and return to her family under the sea. One of them has to die before the sun rises.

With that, the Little Mermaid looks at the Prince, who whispers the name of his new bride in his sleep. Still, her love for him is too strong, and she flings the knife out into the sea. Her body dissolves into foam. As she rises into the air, she’s greeted by a voice. The Little Mermaid has become a daughter of the air, which is what mermaids become through suffering and loyalty. Since she was unable to earn the love of a human, she now has 300 years to perform good deeds that will earn her an immortal soul from God.

Key differences: Ariel is 16, while the Little Mermaid (who is never given a name) is 14, later 15. The bargain the sea witch strikes in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale is much more violent, what with the knife blades, constant bleeding, and tongue-severing. Also, Andersen’s story is a morality tale about performing good deeds to earn God’s favor. To make up for her selfishness, the Little Mermaid sacrifices herself for the greater good, and when she meets the daughters of the air, she learns that good children remove years from their 300 years of trial, while naughty children make them cry, adding days to their sentences. So basically, you should behave, children, because when you don’t, you’re not allowing former mermaids to become immortal souls in the Kingdom of God. How dare you.
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Beauty and the Beast

Year of Disney adaptation: 1991

Story Disney told you: An enchantress disguised as a beggar asks a prince for shelter in exchange for a rose. He refuses her offer, and she turns him into a beast because of his selfishness. If he wants to break the spell, he has to learn how to love someone else and also earn her love before his 21st birthday when the final rose petal will fall. If he doesn’t, he’ll remain a hideous beast forever.

In a provincial French town, a bookish girl named Belle dreams of the exciting tales she reads about in her beloved novels. Everyone in town calls her peculiar, but an arrogant asshole named Gaston wants to marry Belle anyway (what a mensch). Belle isn’t into this idea at all.

Belle’s eccentric father is traveling to a fair to showcase the woodchopper he invented when he stumbles upon the castle. The Beast takes him prisoner, but his horse runs home to Belle. Belle returns to the castle and offers to take her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner.

The other enchanted residents of the castle — Cogsworth, Lumièrem, Chip, Mrs. Potts, et al. — befriend Belle, knowing that she’s their last hope to break the curse. Unfortunately, Belle doesn’t heed the anyone’s warning to avoid the castle’s west wing, and the Beast chases her into the forest, where she meets a pack of wolves.

When the Beast saves Belle from the wolves, she realizes that there might be some good inside of him. He, in turn, begins to fall in love with her. She sees his library and swoons. It’s hard not to when you see the place.

When Belle tells the Beast that she misses her father, he lets her go to him, and gives Belle the magic mirror he uses to view the outside world. When Gaston sees the mirror, though, and realizes that Belle and the Beast are in love, he convinces the villagers to hunt the Beast down.

Gaston follows Belle to the castle, where he engages in a battle with the Beast. Gaston delivers a mortal wound to the Beast at the same time he plummets to his death from the castle roof. Belle professes her love to the Beast as he dies at the same time as the final petal falls from the enchanted rose. The spell is now broken, but the Beast has learned to love and found someone to love him. He returns to his handsome human form, and all of the enchanted objects in the castle return to their original selves as well. Belle and the Prince dance in the ballroom as the movie ends.
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Photo: Courtesy of CreateSpace Publishing
Beauty and the Beast

Source material: La Belle et la Bête by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (1740), which was abridged and rewritten by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont into the version that’s usually retold (1756)

Original story: Beauty is the youngest and most special of a rich merchant’s six children — three sons, three daughters. She receives several marriage proposals, but says she is too young to marry.

One day, the merchant loses his entire fortune save for a small country house far away from town, and the entire family is forced to relocate. The oldest children do not wish to go, but Beauty refuses to leave her poor father in his newly impoverished state. Her older siblings begrudge her hard work and kind attitude towards her misfortunate father, who they blame for their fall from society. They call Beauty poor and stupid for being content with their dismal life in the country. The merchant, of course, sees what a wonderful person his youngest daughter is.

The merchant receives a letter saying that some property of his has been located aboard a ship. His oldest daughters are extremely uplifted by this news, for they think this marks their return to their former lifestyle. They ask their father to buy them all sorts of new things, like gowns and ribbons. Beauty asks for nothing, but her father insists on bringing her something from his travels. She asks for a rose, since they’re rather rare where the family lives.

When the merchant claims his property, it gets seized by the court to pay down his other debts, so he’s going to return home empty-handed. On his way home, he gets lost in a forest and is forced to take refuge in an empty palace upon which he stumbles. The merchant stables his horse and spends the night in the palace, where dinner is mysteriously served to him, and a fire has been built. Still, no master of the house materializes.

In the morning, the merchant dresses in the clothes that the mystery person, who he has now determined to be a fairy, has laid out for him. Before he leaves the palace to return home, he remembers Beauty’s request. The palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens — which is very odd considering it’s snowing in the rest of the forest — and the merchant goes to take a rose home for his daughter.

As he does this, the angry Beast comes charging towards him. He has offered the merchant hospitality, and in return, the merchant is going to steal his flowers, which the Beast says he values more than anything in the universe. The merchant pleads for his life, saying that he has six children to think of.

The Beast agrees to let the merchant go as long as he sends back one of his daughters to die in his stead at the end of three months. The Beast allows the merchant to fill a chest with gold to take home so that his children will be provided for when he is gone. He also lets the merchant to take roses home to Beauty.

When the merchant arrives home and shares the story of what has befallen him, all of his other children blame Beauty, saying it was her request for a rose that put the merchant in his current predicament. Beauty offers to take her father’s place, saying she’ll go back to the palace and die at the Beast’s hand.

Beauty and her father travel back to the palace, and she forces him to return home to the family, saying that if providence has ordained that she’s meant to die at the hand of the Beast, so be it. Instead, she ends up being very well cared for. The Beast gives her a wing of the palace. She has her own library. Over time, the Beast falls in love with her. He asks Beauty to marry him every night, and though Beauty comes to realize that beneath his hideous exterior lies a kind and good-natured soul, she says that she only feels compassionate love for him, not the love of a wife for a husband.

Beauty also says that she’s sick with worry for her father, so the Beast let’s her journey to the cottage to visit him. When she sees the men her haughty, superficial sisters have married, she realizes that she’s found an ideal mate in the Beast. She uses her magic ring (oh, yeah, the Beast gave her a magic ring to basically apparate, Harry Potter-style, between the palace and her father’s house) to go back to the palace, where she finds the Beast has decided to starve himself to death because he assumed Beauty would never return.

Beauty throws herself upon the Beast’s dying form and swears that she cannot live without him, and he must marry her. As she makes this pronouncement, the palace begins to twinkle and glow. Fireworks and music come from nowhere. Beauty only has eyes for her dying Beast, though.

He’s disappeared, and in his place is a handsome prince. He thanks Beauty for ending the curse that had turned him into a beast for so long. The prince explains that a wicked fairy condemned him to live in that form until a beautiful virgin agreed to marry him. They walk into the palace, and Beauty’s entire family is there waiting for them along with a beautiful woman who came to her in a dream.

The woman pronounces Beauty Queen and states that she will retain her virtue. She turns Beauty’s older sisters into sentient statues who must stand guard at the palace gate and behold how happy their sister is. Until they admit to their own faults (which basically amount to most of the seven deadly sins such as sloth, vanity, pride, and greed), they’ll remain envious statues.

Beauty and the Prince marry and live happily ever after

Key differences: In the Disney version, Belle is an only child, and her father is a poor, eccentric merchant. Disney did away with Belle/Beauty’s envious, malicious siblings who are turned to stone at the end of the story. In Disney’s tale, the Beast isn’t on the verge of death when Belle returns to the palace; rather, it’s Gaston (who isn’t in the original story) who threatens his life. The original story has no enchanted talking cutlery and household objects.
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Year of Disney adaptation: 1992

Story Disney told you: In the city of Agrabah, the Sultan’s daughter Jasmine is bored with her life in the palace. She disguises herself and sneaks out to the busy marketplace. There, she meets a street rat named Aladdin and his pet monkey Abu. Her father’s evil advisor Jafar orders Aladdin’s capture, and Jasmine tries to get him released. Jafar makes her believe he sentenced Aladdin to death.

Jafar disguises himself as an old man and frees Aladdin and Abu from the prison dungeon, saying that they’ll receive a reward if they retrieve a magic lamp. They’re not supposed to touch anything besides the lamp while they’re in the cave, but they also find a magic carpet, and Abu tries to steal a gem. They use the carpet to escape as the cave collapses, and Aladdin gives the magic lamp to Jafar. Abu stops Jafar from killing Aladdin, and Aladdin, Abu, and the lamp all get stuck in the cave during the collapse.

Then, it’s Genie time. Since Aladdin freed the Genie, he gets three wishes. Aladdin uses his street smarts to make the Genie get them out of the cave without actually using one of his wishes. The Genie confesses that he wants to be free, and Aladdin promises to use his last wish to release him from the lamp.

Jafar tries to convince the Sultan to marry him to Jasmine, but Aladdin has used one of his wishes to become Prince Ali of Ababwa. He takes Jasmine on a magic carpet ride, and she realizes that he’s the same person she met in the marketplace. They fall in love.

Unfortunately, Jafar is hip to their romance, and he tries to drown Aladdin. Aladdin is forced to use his second wish to save his own life, and he goes back to the palace to expose the Sultan’s advisor’s nefarious schemes. Jafar spots the lamp in his possession, though, puts a few things together, and realizes that Prince Ali is really the lowly street rat he forced to steal the magic lamp.

Jafar sends his animal sidekick, Iago the parrot, to steal the lamp, making him the Genie’s new master. Jafar uses his wishes to make Jasmine and the Sultan his slaves. He also has Aladdin cast out into a frozen desert.

Aladdin and Abu still have the magic carpet, though, so they fly back to the palace and to get the lamp back. Jasmine pretends to love Jafar to distract him, but he sees Aladdin and turns into a huge, scary cobra that traps Aladdin. Aladdin again uses his cunning wits to convince Jafar that the Genie is more powerful than he’ll ever be, so Jafar wishes to be a genie. He forgets one thing, though: genies are prisoners in lamps.

Aladdin’s Genie relegates Jafar’s lamp to the collapsed cave, and Aladdin keeps his promise to wish for his freedom. The Sultan changes the law in Agrabah so that princesses can marry commoners, and Jasmine and Aladdin happily celebrate their engagement. The newly freed genie sets off to travel the world.
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Photo: Courtesy of Norton, W.W. & Company.

Source material: “Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp” from One Thousand and One Nights or Arabian Nights (incorporated into the book Les Mille et Une Nuits when it was translated into French by Antoine Galland in 1710)

Original story: Aladdin is a poor ne’er do well who lives in a Chinese city. Both of his parents are alive, but he still spends all of his time playing in the streets rather than trying to earn a living. One day after Aladdin’s father has passed away, a magician claiming to be his uncle convinces Aladdin to retrieve a magic lamp from a cave, promising to make him a wealthy merchant in exchange for risking his life.

Aladdin gets caught in the cave while trying to get the lamp, but he’s wearing a magic ring the magician lent him. When Aladdin rubs the ring, a genie appears, freeing Aladdin from the cave.
Back at his mother’s house, Aladdin gives her the lamp to clean. While she’s rubbing the lamp, a more powerful genie than the first emerges and grants Aladdin wishes.

Aladdin and his mother use the genie to wish for money, and Aladdin also weds the Sultan’s daughter, Princess Badroulbadou. Unfortunately, the evil magician gets wind of Aladdin’s good fortune, and he tricks the Princess into giving her the magic lamp. He then demands that the genie move their palace to the desert where he lives.

Aladdin uses the magic ring to summon the first genie he met in the cave, who sends Aladdin to the desert where his palace is now located. The princess helps Aladdin kill the sorcerer and get the lamp back, and they’re able to return their palace to its rightful place.

It’s not over yet, though. The magician has an even more evil and powerful brother (so, another uncle Aladdin has never met?) who wants to eradicate Aladdin for murdering his brother. He dresses up as an old woman and fools the princess into allowing him in the palace. Luckily, the genie of the lamp warns Aladdin about the intruder, and Aladdin takes care of business.

Everyone lives happily ever after and all that jazz, plus Aladdin becomes king, although it’s not clear of what city.

Key differences: The original version takes place somewhere in China, while Disney’s version takes place in the Middle East. The original tale has two genies, while Disney’s only has the one big personality. In the original, there’s all sorts of avunculicide happening, while Disney’s Aladdin is an orphan. Disney also introduced the adorable animal sidekicks, because who doesn’t love Abu and Rajah?
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Year of Disney adaptation: 2010

Story Disney told you: For several hundred years, Mother Gothel used a golden flower that contains the power of the sun to stave off illness and aging. One day, soldiers from the kingdom of Corona discover the flower and its healing properties, and they use it on their ailing Queen. She recovers and gives birth to Princess Rapunzel.

Mother Gothel tries to get her flower back, but she realizes that Rapunzel’s hair has taken on its healing properties. Instead of stealing her flower, she takes Rapunzel to a hidden tower and raises her as her own, using her hair to stay young. Every year on Rapunzel’s birthday, the King and Queen release lanterns into the sky in hopes that their daughter will be returned.

As her 18th birthday approaches, a thief named Flynn Rider steals Rapunzel’s crown from Corona and stumbles upon the tower. Rapunzel captures Flynn, sends Gothel on a three-day mission to find some plant, and convinces Flynn to take her to see the lanterns (not knowing that they’re released in honor of her birthday). She just wants to see the outside world.

Flynn takes Rapunzel to a pub filled with the dangerous people Gothel warned Rapunzel would be in the outside world, but they’re kind to her. Royal soldiers descend on the pub in search of the crown thief, though, and Flynn and Rapunzel are forced to flee to a cave. Rapunzel uses the fact that her hair glows when she sings to help them escape from the cave. Flynn reveals that his real name is Eugene Fitzherbert.

Gothel is now aware that Rapunzel is missing, and she works with Eugene’s enemies, the Stabbingtons, to see if he’s really interested in Rapunzel, or just the crown. During the evening cruise when the lanterns are released, Rapunzel gives Eugene the crown, and he leaves to give it to the Stabbingtons. They turn him in as a thief, and Mother Gothel returns Rapunzel to the tower.

Once she’s back in the tower, Rapunzel realizes that the crown bore the symbol of the kingdom, and that she’s been putting it in her paintings her entire life. She connects the dots and realizes that she’s the long-lost princess.

Eugene is saved from execution by the regulars at the pub, and he climbs into the tower using Rapunzel’s hair. He finds her bound and gagged. Gothel stabs Eugene and tries to flee, but Rapunzel wants to strike a bargain. She agrees to a life in captivity if she’s allowed to use her hair to heal Eugene, but before she can, he cuts off her hair. It immediately turns from blonde to brown, losing its magic.

Without Rapunzel’s magical hair, Gothel starts to age rapidly. She turns into dust. Eugene dies from his stab wound, and Rapunzel cries. Her tears still contains some of the sun’s power, though, and when they land on Eugene’s cheek, he comes back to life.

Rapunzel and Eugene journey back to Corona so she can reunite with her parents. Everyone celebrates, Eugene is forgiven for his crimes, and he and Rapunzel get married.
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Photo: Courtesy of North- South Books, Inc.

Source material: Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm (1812)

Original story: A man and a woman long to have a child, but have trouble conceiving. Finally, the woman gets pregnant. They live next door to a sorceress with a wonderful garden. One day, the woman is overcome with an intense craving for the rapunzel she sees growing in the garden. Even though the sorceress has surrounded the garden with a high fence to keep people and animals from stealing her plants and herbs, her husband wants to do his wife’s bidding (she also becomes miserably ill without the rapunzel), so he scales the walls to steal the rapunzel.

The rapunzel cures the woman, but she craves more. The husband returns to the garden, but the sorceress catches him in the act of stealing. She says that he can take as much rapunzel as he wants as long as she gets to keep the couple’s baby once it’s born. The husband is so desperate to cure his ailing wife that he agrees.

After the baby is born, the sorceress comes to take her, and she names her Rapunzel. When Rapunzel is 12, the sorceress locks her in a tower that can only be accessed by a small window at the very top. In order to visit Rapunzel, the sorceress asks her to throw down her extremely long, golden hair, and the woman climbs up to the top of the tower.

One day, a prince overhears the sorceress calling for Rapunzel to let down her hair and decides to see if he can replicate the process. At first, Rapunzel is scared to see a man in the tower, but the two soon become friends and eventually fall in love and decide they’re married (because there’s no priest or anything to marry them, so they’re engaging in some out-of-wedlock nookie, which was a huge no-no in the Grimms’ times). The Grimms actually changed how they refer to Rapunzel — now calling her the prince’s wife — in the updated 1857 publication of the story to avoid this unsuitable behavior.

There’s just one problem: How to get Rapunzel down from the tower so they can live happily ever after.

The prince and Rapunzel decide that every time he comes to see her, he’ll bring a strand of silk, and Rapunzel will use the silk to weave a ladder. Why he doesn’t bring more than one strand or the entire ladder, the world may never know.

One day, Rapunzel, who’s not so wise to the world, asks the Frau Gothel (the sorceress) why she’s so much heavier than her young prince. Way to blow up everything, Rapunzel. The sorceress realizes what’s been going on, cuts off Rapunzels hair, and casts her into the wilderness.

Then, the sorceress waits for the prince to come to see his beloved. When he climbs to the top of the tower, it’s not Rapunzel waiting for him at the end of the long braid, but Frau Gothel. The prince is so upset that he throws himself from the top of the tower, and the thorns at the bottom blind him. He wanders through the forest, dejected over losing his wife and his sight.

Eventually, the prince wanders into the wilderness where Rapunzel is now living with the twins to which she’s given birth. He hears her singing and recognizes her voice. When Rapunzel sees her husband — and the father of her children — she cries, and the tears restore his sight. The family returns to the prince’s kingdom, and they live happily ever after.

Key differences: Disney basically does away with the entire framework of Rapunzel as we know it and keeps only her long, blonde hair (which is now ~*mAgIC*~) and the name of the woman who keeps her locked in the tower, Gothe(l). Beyond that, not much else is the same in the Grimms’ Rapunzel and Disney’s Tangled. That’s probably for the best, really, because kids don’t really need their Disney fairy tales with booty calls (the Prince only comes to see Rapunzel at night in the Grimms’ fairy tale), judgment (Rapunzel has to give birth alone in the wilderness after she gets pregnant out of wedlock), and fear/uncertainty about women’s bodies (Rapunzel’s mother’s pregnancy cravings that are so strong she’s on the verge of death, and then she’s forced to give up her own child because she just had to have Frau Gothe’s rapunzel).
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Year of Disney adaptation: 2013

Story Disney told you: Princess Elsa of Arendelle is born with cryokinetic powers, which give her the ability to control frozen water. As a child, she’s not yet sure how to control her powers, and she accidentally hurts her younger sister Anna with them one night. Their parents take Anna to the troll king, who makes her all better and also takes away all her memories of Elsa having magical abilities.

Elsa is terrified of hurting her sister again, so she shuts herself in her room and refuses to see her sister. Anna doesn’t understand what she’s done to hurt her sister’s feeling, and they grow apart.

The king and queen unfortunately die when the girls are teenagers, and Elsa is set to be crowned Queen of Arendelle. Since she’s so young, money-hungry merchants like the Duke of Weselton think they’ll be able to exploit the city for profit. While Elsa is worried about people like the Duke, Anna is thrilled to be allowed out of the castle again. On her first trip around town, she meets Prince Hans, and they fall in love. He proposes to Anna during Elsa’s coronation, and Anna accepts.

Elsa, however, refuses to let Anna marry someone she just met. The two sisters argue, and when Elsa gets angry, her powers emerge. She’s so ashamed at being unable to control her abilities that she runs away from the castle and Arendelle, sending the kingdom into an eternal winter. Elsa constructs an ice palace for herself in the mountains where she plans to live out the rest of her life.

Anna puts Hans in charge of things in Arendelle and leaves town to find Elsa. En route to Elsa’s palace, she meets a charming iceman named Kristoff and his equally charismatic reindeer named Sven. Kristoff says he’ll take Anna up the North Mountain. They later meet Olaf, a snowman Elsa created for Anna when they were younger that Elsa brought back to life when she put the kingdom into eternal winter. Olaf is able to lead the group to Elsa’s hidden palace.

When Anna sees Elsa again, she asks her to return to Arendelle. Elsa is still terrified that her powers will harm her sister, and the more Anna pushes Elsa to return, the more anxious Elsa becomes. Eventually, her powers emerge, and she strikes Anna in the heart. She also chases the group away from the palace with a giant snow monster called Marshmallow.

Elsa’s strike to Anna’s heart causes it to freeze, and it can only be unfrozen by an act of true love. Otherwise, she’ll become frozen solid. Kristoff interprets this to mean that Hans will be able to unfreeze Anna with true love’s kiss, and he sets off to Arendelle with the rapidly freezing Anna.

Hans isn’t in Arendelle, though. He’s journeyed to Elsa’s ice palace to locate his beloved, Anna. He begs Elsa to end the winter, but she admits that she doesn’t know how. When Anna and Hans eventually reunite, she begs him to give her true love’s kiss. He confesses that he cannot, for he only wants to marry her to sit on the throne of Arendelle. Hans leaves Anna to die (horrible) and tries to charge Elsa with treason for killing her sister.

Terrified that she’s mortally wounded her beloved baby sister, Elsa escapes from her palace (where Hans had imprisoned her) and ventures out into the snow to find her. Olaf also finds Anna to say that Kristoff loves her, and she sets off to find him so he can deliver true love’s kiss. When Anna sees Hans chasing Elsa; however, she stops her pursuit of Kristoff so she can protect her sister from Hans.

That proves to be the act of true love needed to unthaw Anna’s heart. Elsa also learns that love is what she needs to keep her powers under control. She unthaws the kingdom, deports Hans, and ceases trade with the Duke of Weselton. Anna and Elsa reunite, and Queen Elsa promises the citizens of Arendelle to never again shut the castle gates.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Planet.

Source material: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen (1844)

Original story: Well, it starts with the devil. Obviously. Actually, it’s a wicked hobgoblin who’s “the devil himself.” The devil makes a mirror which has the power to make everything good and beautiful seem like it’s ugly and dying, while everything that is actually ugly is reflected back even uglier.

The devil also has a school, and everyone who goes to his school and sees the mirror believes that it’s actually telling the truth about the world. They believe that up until now, everything they’ve been taught has just been a bunch of lies. They take the mirror and try to fly up to the heavens with it to make fun of the angels and God, but it slips from their hands and breaks into a million pieces.

All of the pieces have the same power as the mirror as a whole — making people see only the bad in things — and some people get a piece of the glass in their hearts. This transforms their hearts into lumps of ice. Other pieces of the mirror are also used for windows, glasses (the ones you wear on your face), and any other place you’d use glass, meaning the world becomes distorted to those who look through it.

In a big city, a boy named Kay and girl named Gerda live in adjoining houses. In the warmer weather, they tend plants in their window boxes. In the winter, they watch snow fall. One of their grandmothers calls it “white bees.” Kay asks if the white bees have a queen. The grandmother says that they do. She flies in the middle of the storm, and she always returns to the dark clouds. When she flies through the streets on winter nights they freeze in her path as if they were covered in flowers. That night Kay spots the snow queen outside.

The next summer, Kay and Gerda sing a hymn about the Christ Child. While they’re looking at a picture book of animals, a piece of glass from the magic mirror falls into Kay’s eye and pierces his heart. He soon starts seeing everything he previously thought was beautiful as ugly and worthless. He even starts to tease Gerda.

Soon, it’s winter again, and Kay goes sledding alone. Fast and faster his sled flies through the blizzard until it arrives in front of the Snow Queen. She gives Kay a kiss that makes him feel like he’s dying, but it only lasts a moment, and after it’s over, he doesn’t notice the cold anymore. The Snow Queen kisses Kay again, making him forget about his family and Gerda at home. The two fly over the land and sea, and then Kay falls asleep at the feet of the Snow Queen.

Back at home, everyone is incredibly worry about Kay’s disappearance — Gerda most of all. She cries and cries. Finally spring arrives, bringing the sunshine. Gerda tells the sun and swallows that Kay has died, but they insist she is wrong. She puts on her new red shoes and sets off to find her dearest friend. When she reaches the river, she asks it if it has stolen her playmate, and says that she’ll trade her new shoes for Kay. She throws her shoes into the river, but they wash back onto the shore. Gerda interprets this to mean the river doesn’t have Kay.

Gerda climbs into a boat and drifts down the river, asking it to take her to Kay. Eventually, she drifts to the bank and meets an old woman coming out of a house. The old woman offers Gerda cherries and combs her hair with a magic comb that makes her forget about Kay. She also makes all the roses disappear from her garden so that they won’t remind Gerda that she’s on a mission to find Kay. Eventually, something triggers Gerda’s memory, and she asks the roses if they’ve seen Kay. They say that they’ve been in the earth where dead people are, but they have not seen Kay.

The other flowers tell Gerda a series of riddles, but they only contain moral lessons (for example, the narcissus talks about how cleanliness is a virtue). Gerda realizes how much time she’s wasted, and she gets up to continue on her journey. When she does, the world looks incredibly gray and bleak.

When Gerda next rests, she meets a crow. The crow tells her about a well-read Princess in the kingdom where Gerda has arrived. The Princess decided to get married, so she called for all the eligible suitors in the land to visit her. Kay apparently arrived with a knapsack on his back, which Gerda assumes is his sled. Kay wasn’t there to win the princess’ heart, but to hear her knowledge, but she fell for him anyway. The crows take Gerda to the Prince and Princess.

The Prince looks just like Kay, but younger and more handsome. But it’s apparently not Kay? Hans Christian Andersen made this story seven parts, so clearly Gerda cannot find him in part four. Anyway, the Prince and Princess send Gerda on her way to find the real Kay.

We’re now at part five, or rather, the fifth story, which is called “The Little Robber Girl.” Gerda’s carriage is jumped by a band of robbers in the forest. The robber girl leads Gerda to her encampment and introduces Gerda to her sweetheart, who in this translation — and this one — is named Bae. (Sidenote: Did Hans Christian Andersen coin the term bae?!)

The robber girl’s wood-pigeons tell Gerda that they saw Kay sitting in the Snow Queen’s carriage, and that it was en route to Lapland, where she has a summer pavilion. The robber girl tells her reindeer to take Gerda to the Snow Queen’s palace in Lapland, and off they go.

When they reach Lapland, though, an old woman tells the reindeer that the Snow Queen is actually in her country house in Finmark. So Gerda and the reindeer set off to visit a Finn woman in Finmark, who makes Gerda a drink that will give her the strength of 12 men. The woman tells Gerda that Kay is indeed with the Snow Queen, and that he thinks his current lot in life is the best it can be due to the glass from the devil’s mirror stuck in his heart and eye. If they’re not removed, Kay will never be human again, and the Snow Queen will retain her power over him forever.

The reindeer asks the woman to give Gerda something more powerful so that she can rally against the Snow Queen, but the woman argues that Gerda is all-powerful already because she is an innocent child. If that’s not enough to defeat the Snow Queen, then there’s no hope for Kay. The reindeer is in such a rush to have Gerda do battle with the Snow Queen after hearing this that he sets off towards her country house without Gerda’s mittens or boots.

As the reindeer rushes Gerda through the snowflakes, she realizes that they’re all the Snow Queen’s minions trying to freeze her. She begins to feel the cold more and more, so she starts to say the Lord’s Prayer. As she continues through the prayer, she sees her breath coming out of her mouth into a plume of smoke. The smoke becomes bright angels that wear helmets and carry shields. They surround Gerda and protect her, striking the snowflakes away from her. She can no longer feel the cold.

In the seventh and final part of the story, we come back to Kay. He’s been sitting in the Snow Queen’s palace, growing blue with cold, verging on black. He doesn’t feel it though, because the Snow Queen keeps kissing the shivers away. HIs heart is practically frozen into a block of ice. He spends his time making ice into puzzles. He tries to shape the ice into the word “eternity,” but he can’t quite succeed.

The Snow Queen promises Kay that if he can create the word, he can become his own master, and she’ll give him the entire world and also a pair of skates. He cannot succeed, though, so he remains in the Queen’s control. She amuses herself by ridding the world of warm places and volcanoes. It’s while she’s off on one of these trips that Gerda walks into the palace.

Kay cannot remember Gerda, so she sings the hymn about the Christ Child that they used to sing to one another. Kay immediately remembers her. Gerda kisses his cheeks, and they become flushed again. They piece together the ice puzzle Kay had been trying to (“Eternity,” by Hans Christian Andersen rather than Calvin Klein), freeing him from the Snow Queen’s control. They leave the palace, and people who helped Gerda on her way to find Kay are waiting for them.

Kay and Gerda arrive back in their hometown as church bells ring. They completely forget the Snow Queen’s palace like it was a bad dream. Grandmother is there, reading a passage from the Bible about entering the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s a glorious, warm, beautiful summer.

Key differences: Disney’s Frozen is clearly much, much shorter than Andersen’s version, and it does away with all of the religious iconography and morality. Disney’s Elsa (the Snow Queen) is also much nicer and far less malicious. It’s not her goal to cast the entire world in eternal winter; that’s just something that happens by accident because she can’t control her powers or emotions. Disney’s Frozen focuses on the love between family members, while Andersen’s focuses on loving God.

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