When I was in grade 12/13, back in Germany, we had to write a big term paper in our major subject. My subject was German, and I chose to write about fairytales. I remember my teacher being somewhat unimpressed with the topic; I think it wasn’t literary enough for him. But I enjoyed myself nonetheless, and here I am, twenty-odd years later, doing a full graduate-level reading course on the topic.
But then, in the Austen course I just finished, I found another subject that fascinates me: adaptation studies. So this study is going to combine the two: fairytales and their adaptations. But because there’s only so much you can do in one three-credit course, I (sadly) have to concentrate on one story only. And that one is going to be Snow White.
That’s right, she of the seven dwarfs. (Oh dear, I’m going to have problems with spelling that. Thank you so much, Mr Tolkien. Is it dwarfs, or dwarves? Which one is Tolkien’s invention, and which one proper English?) I’ve got three different movie adaptations sitting on the shelf: the Disney Someday-my-prince-will-come cartoon, the 2012 Mirror, Mirror, and Snow White and the Huntsman (which I haven’t even watched yet). I also have the original German Grimm’s story, a YA novel called Snow, and intend to track down English versions of the tale.
First question to explore: is the kiss to break the spell a Disney invention, or did it appear in some other versions before Dopey, Sleepy and Grumpy appeared on the scene? The Grimms certainly had a different solution for getting Snow White out of her coma.