One is hard pressed to find a folktale or fairytale that Disney has not re-imagined in some way. They hold a commanding presence in the world economy, media and entertainment industry, and of course the internet. Disney websites and their affiliates are the paragons of interactivity, always integrating new technology in order to bring stories to new levels. Despite the fear and criticism regarding their influence on children, Disney is very much an active part of our culture. Here are some examples of how they have reanimated Chicken Little:
This is the 1943 original Disney version of “Chicken Little”:
Aside from the usual Disney fluff at the beginning (and the ducks copiously smoking, a sight sadly common in older cartoons) notice how the film’s conflict is introduced with the fox looking for an easy target. He purposely seeks out Chicken Little, who obviously appears gullible (don’t miss how he hits himself on the head with his yo-yo!). The theatrical fox goes through a great deal in order to stage the “sky falling”. Chicken Little takes the bait and begins the accumulation of mass hysteria.
The fox in this version is a manipulator, a fear monger rather than an opportunistic bystander. By making the fox active in causing the mass hysteria, Disney has nearly robbed the tale of it’s moral. The event that triggers the conflict is predetermined by the fox, it’s not a random everyday occurrence like those in the original tales. So Chicken Little’s fear is not unwarranted or irrational like it is in the written versions. If Chicken Little is meant to be a cautionary tale advising listeners against jumping to conclusions and making false assumptions, then taking the error away from Chicken Little and giving it to a plotting antagonist makes the panic justified.
Now take a look at a trailer from Disney’s digitally animated 2005 version and you’ll notice some big differences:
The plot of this feature length film is loosely based on the original Chicken Little. The trailer pokes fun at Chicken Little’s BIG mistake and at the end of the trailer we see a quote “This time the sky really is falling”. And in this version it does! A piece of an alien spaceship falls and hits Chicken Little on the head and Chicken Little’s alarm that the sky is falling is what actually saves everyone. At the end, it’s the cynics and doubters who feel foolish for not believing. This is a very different message from the original tales.
Looking at Chicken Little’s physical appearance we can see many changes. In this version he is a loveable geek and very intelligent, unlike his 1943 counterpart. He goes to school and hangs out with the “unpopular” kids. He likes science and is endearingly clumsy. This version takes popular contemporary issues and archetypes and works them in as subplots that emphasize setting aside your disbelief for the ramblings of quirky eccentrics. But who cares, he’s cute and he’s little right?
Here is a great example of how Disney markets the cute factor:
I secretly love this, and really included it because I just had to share *dances*.
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