Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Hard Facts of Grimms’ Fairytales

Intriguingly, Maria Tatar begins to explore similarities and reoccurring themes in Grimms Fairytales that reveal the nature of the tales themselves.

Violence is a particular element of Grimms’ tales favouring violence over the whimsy. Translating and adding more graphic imagery ‘He is so beside himself with rage that he tears in two’. Later editions become more vivid in violent scenes becoming a hallmark in their many tales.

The brothers Gimm were careful to filter sexual profanities, particularly incest. The tale ‘The Girl Without Hands’ introduces the deity of the devil replacing the father’s incestural desires.

In real life, every unhappy familiar maybe unhappy in it owns unique way; wherein fairytales, unhappy families appear very much alike. Nearly every sibling is a rival and at least one parent an ogre identifying the child as the hero against the grudges and reprisals of their parents. Often, the hero suffers extreme hardships and misfortunes.

Good & Evil
In Grimms’ tales, the presence of evil or the absence of good is often the driving force of events, functioning almost identically despite appearing in different narrative guises.

Characters are defined solely by their relationship to the protagonist, each decisively belonging to the side of good or evil. These characters either aid or hamper the protagonist hero.

With an understanding of the themes and concepts behind Grimms’ tales, this will ideally provide a greater sense of depth and meaning to my design concepts envisioning the world of Grimm fairytale.

Tatar, Maria. (2003). The Hard Facts of Grimms’ Fairytales. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press.

Brothers Grimm

The brothers Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm were German scholars dedicated to the publication of folk and fairy tales producing original and revised works.

With a vast collection of over 200 tales, there is plenty to choose from with particularly famous tales being examples such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Repunzel. Yet, I intend to refrain from these more established tales to avoid preconceived modern concepts allowing for my own unique visual interpretation without retracing familiar ground. Effectively, this will grant me the opportunity to explore a wide array of imaginative themes to interpret a Grimms’ tale in a completely unique way. The act of visually translating a fairytale into a science fiction, horror or comedy is an exciting prospect that will result in an enjoyable and challenging process.

Thus, I have begun to read a number of Grimms’ fairytales to find one that I will find most engaging to work from for this entire project. Here are number of Brothers’ Grimm tales which I have read which vary greatly in length.

The Wonderful Musician – A tale of a musician luring 3 animals, a wolf, fox and hare, before trapping them and luring a human companion to defend him

The Skillful Huntsman – a locksmith trains as huntsman, slays 3 giants rescuing a princess. Where the king is deceived and rewards the one-eyed captain the princess’ hand in marriage. She refuses suffering the troubles of peasant life before the return of the huntsman who reveals the truth and later ends in marriage as the one eyed captain proclaims his own sentence to be ‘torn to pieces’.

Little Brother & Little Sister – Little brother & sister leaves their wicked aunt, where the brother is transformed into a deer who attracts the King’s huntsmen. After pursuit, the King marries little sister to the jealously of the aunt and her own daughter, who plots against the newly wed Queen. Plot ensures, queen becomes a ghost before returning back to life where the evil aunt daughter are sentenced to death

King Thrushbeard – A king’s daughter refuses the hand of all suitors before suffering hardships being forced to marry a peasant who is King Thrushbeard in disguise.

The Twelve Huntsmen – A prince has promised to marry another as his father’s death wish. His lost fiancée serve the new king as a huntsman with the 11 other women, who continually deceive the new King to be men. After discovering his lost fiancée as one of his huntsman, he breaks his father’s promise and marries his fiancée.

Bearskin – A veteran soldier returns from war with no other skill or talent. He confronts the devil who offers him riches on the condition that he does not wash, cut his hair and wear a bearskin for 7 years. He agrees, using the money for good and returns to this former self later marrying the daughter of the man he aided.

More tales can be found here and here.

Ideally, I am looking for tale with a range of characters and settings to draw upon, as well as an interesting story. At this stage of the project, I have not yet chosen which tale to design from, but am keeping a select few in mind.

Adams, Richard. (1981). Grimm’s Fairy Tales. London. Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Rackham, Arthur. (1973). Grimm’s Fairy Tales Twenty Stories. London. William Heinemann.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Envisioning a Grimm Tale

For my final major project, my intention is to create a body of work envisioning a Brothers’ Grimm tale, by developing a broad range of initial concept designs that will be refined digitally to serve as finalised designs with further potential. The choice of Brothers’ Grimm tales over contemporary literature and film is to avoid preconceived modern concepts, allowing one to fully explore a wide range of designs in the most unique and imaginative way possible. This will include an array of potential themes from fantasy, science fiction and horror, which will explore appropriate concepts that best interpret the original source material in my own unique visual way.

Overall, I am quite excited with the prospect of this project and am eager to get started.

Friday, February 20, 2009


This online blog will keep track of my final major project along with my journal. So watch this space!