Arthur Rackham, Aschenputtel, Brothers Grimm, Cendrillon, Charles Perrault, Cinderella, CS Evans, Disney, Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passe, Jardin des Tuileries, Julie Andrews, La Belle au Bois Dormant, Lotte Reiniger, My Fair Lady, Ombres Chinoises, Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers, Sergei Prokofiev, Shadow puppet plays, Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky, wayang kulit, Zolushka
Welcome, as always, dear readers.
In this post, we come to the end of our series on other ways of presenting fairy tales, in which we have taken two by the author who is usually cited as beginning the modern Western tradition, Charles Perrault (1628-1703).
In 1697, Perrault had published this,
entitled Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passe (“Stories or Tales of/from Past Time”), with a kind of subtitle, Contes de Ma Mere L’Oye (“Tales of My Mother Goose”).
The volume contained only 8 stories, with two being “La Belle au Bois Dormant” (“The Beautiful Girl in the Sleeping Wood”)
and “Cendrillon” (“Cinderella”), which we chose to be the basis of our posts.
So far in these posts, we’ve looked at “Sleeping Beauty” in everything from ballet to Disney and “Cinderella” in early operas and silent films. In this final post of the series, we want to begin by saying, as we did in our first post, that “Cinderella” exists in two basic forms, that of Perrault, from 1697, and that of the Brothers Grimm,
In this version of the story, the fairy godmother is removed and replaced by birds seemingly sent by Cinderella’s dead mother.
We mention this because this is the version followed by our next creator, Charlotte (Lotte) Reiniger (1899-1981)
in her 1922 film, Aschenputtel (“Cinderella”)
This is a silent film in which delicately-cut paper figures through stop-motion photography are manipulated to tell the story.
Here’s a LINK so that you can enjoy the short (about 13 minutes) film. And, if you enjoy that, there are more of Reiniger’s works on YouTube for you to see.
To us, her work very much resembles wayang kulit, the traditional shadow plays of Bali,
as well as the Ombres Chinoises, (“Chinese Shadows”—Chinese shadow puppets) brought to France in the 18th century.
It also closely resembles two works illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939),
his Cinderella (1919)
and The Sleeping Beauty (1920).
In each of these, Rackham employs silhouettes to tell the story (in versions by CS Evans), giving both the look of stories told by moonlight.
We could easily show you all of the illustrations, marveling at them right here, but, instead, we give you a LINK to an on-line version of The Sleeping Beauty (with apologies for not being able to locate an on-line Cinderella).
In one of our previous posts in the series, we discussed Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Sleeping Beauty, now we add to this Cinderella (Zolushka) by the Russian composer, Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953),
premiered in 1945. Here’s a LINK to a suite of music from it, along with two sheets of costume designs from the original production, suggesting what a sumptuous spectacle it must have been.
Prokofiev and his collaborators followed Perrault and the fairy godmother was back. Here’s the pumpkin coach from a more modern—but still Russian—production.
And this coach brings us to our next and next-to-last item.
We grew up with this image of the story in our heads, as well as its music.
This is the 1950 Disney version, which stuck fairly closely to the Perrault, but, along with the fairy godmother, kept the helpful birds (changing their color)
and added a gang of equally helpful mice.
To which we add our final piece. In 1957, the well-known composer/lyricist team of Rodgers and Hammerstein created a first, a made-for-television musical production of Perrault’s version, starring someone who was already becoming a star by appearing as Eliza Doolittle in Lerner and Lowe’s My Fair Lady, Julie Andrews.
In five postings, we’ve traveled from 1697 to 1957 and visited a number of places in between, all of which was based upon two traditional stories recreated in new tellings by Charles Perrault. Is it any wonder, then, that in 1910, this bust was erected to his memory in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris?
Thanks, as always, for reading.