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The Hard-Core Stories Behind 15 Popular Disney Movies

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The Hard-Core Stories Behind 15 Popular Disney Movies

When we were kids, we loved them. We were fascinated by the beautiful girls in lavish garments, the talking animals and the courageous princes who overcame impossible obstacles to win the princesses. And by the expected happy ending of course: they lived happily ever after. But did they, really?

Actually, why do ALL Disney movies have happy endings? And why would they leave out all the important details that matter, like, for example, that people can be cruel, and that life can be unfair? And don’t say it’s because these stories are meant for kids! Just read the Complete Fairy Tales of the Grimm Brothers, on which many of the Disney movies are based, and you’ll realize that the famous brothers didn’t care much about the fragile children’s psyche. The real stories behind Disney’s big-eyed heroines and singing cats, dogs, and fish are so dark and brutal that they would certainly be R-rated if they were to be turned into films for grown-ups.

Watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre before going to bed is nothing compared to reading the story about the REAL Snow White, who punishes her step-mom in incredibly cruel ways!

If we’ve succeeded in capturing your interest so far, then probably you’d like to check out the following 15 comparisons between Disney movies and the spine-chilling original stories they are based on. Don’t forget the popcorn… and a Prozac!

15. The Real Princess Elsa From Frozen Kidnapped A Kid

Frozen became an instant sensation upon its release in 2013. Small girls fell in love with Sven the reindeer, Olaf the singing snowman, and, of course, with Elsa and her magical powers and beautiful singing voice. Girls actually wanted to be Elsa! But if they only knew what was behind this beloved character! In the original story, The Snow Queen, the two protagonists are childhood besties. The boy, Kai, is kidnapped by the Snow Queen and taken to her frozen palace at the North Pole. The Snow Queen not only turns Kai into a human popsicle with a kiss on the mouth (!), but also gives him amnesia. What Kai is forced to do day and night under the supervision of his demonic captor is… puzzles. By the time Gerda, his friend, finds him years later, Kai is so brainwashed that he is only a shadow of his previous self. What is more, his limbs are damaged by frostbite. This sad story of a kidnapped boy and his dedicated friend who goes on an impossible quest to save him has cemented the Snow Queen’s status as an ultimate villain.

14. The Real Pocahontas Never Marries John Smith 

In 1995, Disney released a beautifully animated film about the Native American princess who fell in love with a Caucasian guy during the conflict between the English settlers and the indigenous population. Spectators were fascinated by the artistically told story, thinking that Disney was showing the events as they happened. But the truth is far from that. Yes, Pocahontas (whose real name was Matoaka) did save John Smith’s life by throwing herself between him and her cruel father who intended to kill him, but she was only 10 years old when the event took place. Logically, and given her young age, the two of them never had a romance. In April 1613, she was captured and held hostage for ransom at Jamestown for over a year. During her captivity, a rich tobacco planter took interest in the exotic-looking prisoner and negotiated her release. They married, and Matoaka quickly converted to Christianity and changed her name to Rebecca. She followed her husband to England, but she died the following year at only 20 years of age.

13. Mowgli Never Gets Used To The Life And Norms Of Human Society

In Disney’s version of this story, a human boy called Mowgli is raised by a pack of wolves. When a dangerous tiger, thirsty for blood, returns to the jungle, the worried wolf-mom sends Mowgli to a human village in an attempt to save his life. The boy is initially reluctant to live the civilized way, but he quickly changes his mind about human society when he gets swept off his feet upon meeting a human girl.

In Rudyard Kipling’s collection of short stories The Jungle Book, Mowgli never adjusts to the life in the village mainly because… well… the society doesn’t want him. They send him back to the wilderness, and the family that was good enough to take the kid in gets savagely punished by their fellow villagers. But Mowgli comes back for revenge. Hathi is his major helper in this endeavor. He is far from the cute old elephant character as portrayed in the Disney movie. Just on the contrary, he is a bloodthirsty beast that destroys the entire village. Then we have the wolves chasing away the cattle, and Bagheera the black panther killing all the horses. What a massacre! And you thought this was a story about a cute half-naked kid in the jungle…

12. Hercules Kills His Own Family

We cross our hearts and hope to die if Hercules is not the most ‘sterilized’ of all Disney movies! But we see the reason why. You know, in Greek mythology there is not a single story which doesn’t involve some unthinkable perversity or brutality. And the myth about Hercules is not an exception to the rule. To start with, Hercules is conceived in a conspiracy: Zeus seduces his mother by disguising himself as her lawful husband. His mother is so anxious about her husband not finding out about the origin of the illegitimate child, that she tries to have baby Hercules killed by throwing two poisonous snakes into his crib. Disney, of course, wouldn’t allow that kind of parenting to tarnish a beautiful story! They also skipped the part where Hera, Zeus’ actual wife, infects Hercules with some sort of madness which makes him kill his family. And another important detail Disney deliberately chose not to mention: the demi-god gets killed at the hands of his jealous second wife. She smears some of the toxic centaur’s blood on a tunic she gives to Hercules. When Hercules puts it on, it burns his skin.

11. Cinderella’s Step-Sisters Are Disfigured

In case you didn’t know, the German name for Cinderella is Aschenputel. And yes, in both the 19th-century original text and in the 1950’s Disney movie, Aschenputel and the Prince live happily ever after, after they find out Aschenputel is the girl with the ridiculously small feet everybody in the kingdom has been looking for. The movie shows the step-sisters jealous and fuming with rage at the end, while the real story depicts them as psychologically unstable individuals who meet a bloody end. One of them mutilates herself to fit in the golden slipper, as does the other. But the worst part is yet to come. During the wedding, doves fly down from heaven and blind the sisters. So, the sisters are left pretty much crippled and blind.

10. Tiana From The Princess And The Frog Is A Total Bully

The 49th animated Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog, was the first to feature an African-American princess. The film is based on E.D. Baker’s book The Frog Princess, which, is in part based on the Grimm Brothers’ fairytale The Frog Prince. In the original version, the frog retrieves the princess’s ball from the well in return for her promise of companionship. But once the ball is in her hands again, the princess instantly welches on their agreement and leaves the poor frog in the forest, assuming he won’t be able to follow her with his pathetic jumps. However, the frog manages to reach the castle and knock (we don’t even ask how!) on the door. He is let in to find the royal family in the middle of having dinner. The princess almost throws up when her father, the King, invites the frog to be their guest at the table and share a plate with his disrespectful daughter. After having summoned up enough courage, the frog further insists on being brought into the princess’s bed — another thing she had previously promised. But again, she acts like a bully and, instead of being nice and friendly, she throws the frog against the wall with the clear intention of killing him. The frog, however, bounces back in a human shape. Luckily for him, the arrogant princess likes what she sees and eventually marries the guy.

9. The True Story Behind The Fox And The Hound Will Leave You Traumatized

Although this is a story of an unlikely friendship, Disney still found room for a happy ending. Copper the Hound protects his childhood friend Tod the Fox from Copper’s sadistic Master, and then goes back to his life of a hunting dog, presumably hunting foxes he is not friends with. The ending is supposed to teach young viewers the fundamentals of friendship and tolerance between races… or species; doesn’t matter. But do you want to know how the story ends in Daniel P. Mannix’s original novel? Copper chases Tod until he dies of exhaustion. The Master, who, in the beginning of the book, kills the adorable fox puppies with methane (!), also fatally shoots Copper. He then retires to a nursing home. So, basically, no one is granted a happily ever after.

8. Sleeping Beauty Is A Victim Of Assault

Gianbattista Basile is the author of the original tale of Sleeping Beauty, but Disney used Charles Perrault’s milder version of the story in the animation. In Basile’s untamed version, however, a king knocks on the door of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Since nobody answers, he sneaks in through a window after climbing a ladder. And here she is; the princess seems asleep, but she is practically unconscious. The royal intruder has his way with her and then disappears. The beauty awakens AFTER she gives birth to her twins only because one of them sucks the poison (from the spindle) out of her finger. Meanwhile, the king’s wife finds out about the adulterous act and hatches a plan to get rid of the twins and punish her unfaithful husband. She further tries to kill non-Sleeping Beauty at the stake. Fortunately, all her plans fail. It seems the princess is not mad at the king for his actions while she was in a state of hypersomnia because they get married in the end.

7. Rapunzel’s Parents Trade Their Baby For A Salad

Tangled is Disney’s version of the Grimm Brothers’ Rapunzel. In the tame movie version, Rapunzel is a cute teen with a profuse amount of long blond hair who lives in a tower with her controlling mother. A handsome fugitive, Flynn Rider, or whatever his real name is, helps her escape. They fall in love, get rid of the mom, explore the kingdom, and live in blissful happiness for the rest of their lives. In Grimm’s version, Rapunzel isn’t snatched by the witch in the first place. Her parents offer her as a trade because they’ve been stealing salad from the witch’s garden. This, of course, is completely inappropriate, and the witch is within her rights to ask for something in return. Then, the storyline fast-forwards to the time when Rapunzel has grown up to be a beautiful young lady and secretively entertains a prince who regularly climbs into her room (using her long braid as a ladder). When the witch finds out about Rapunzel’s naughty activities, she chops her hair off and tricks the suitor into throwing himself from the tower. The prince falls in some thorny bushes which blind him. Meanwhile, Rapunzel wanders in the desert pregnant with the prince’s twins. The story has an uplifting, Hallmark kind of ending. The sightless prince somehow finds his way into Rapunzel’s loving hands, and her tears of happiness miraculously restore his vision.

6. The Little Mermaid Has Self-Esteem And Religious Issues

This is Disney’s version of the story: Ariel, the lovely mermaid, is turned into a human by her mighty father so that she could live happily ever after with the man she loves, Prince Eric. Also a human, FYI! The real story is told by Hans-Christian Andersen, a somber Danish man who loved to play with some deeply spiritual and psychological themes. In his version, the heroine wishes for legs not only to be able to chase after her prince, but mostly because mermaids cannot go to heaven as humans can.

There is another thing that is spared in the Disney movie. When the Little Mermaid eventually gets her legs in exchange for her voice (she lets the sea take out her tongue!), walking turns out to be extremely painful for her. She not only fails at being a convincing human, but also in making the prince love her. In case she succeeded, his kiss would have breathed part of his soul into her body, thus making it possible for her to have an afterlife. The prince, however, doesn’t really care about the poor mute girl, and Ariel is left with no other option but to go to the bottom of the sea forever. If it is some kind of a consolation that she doesn’t turn into foam, as the prophecy has predicted, but becomes a “daughter of the air”… whatever that means.

5. Pinocchio Is Subject To All Kinds Of Atrocities Before Turning Into A Human

Pinocchio is a tale about humanity and the pains one goes through when coming of age. Kids can sure learn a lot of important moral lessons from this Disney classic. But Carlo Collodi’s original story is anything but a soothing good-night fairytale. To begin with, the wooden boy behaves like a real jerk — he not only murders Jiminy the Cricket, but gets his “father”, Geppetto, arrested for child abuse. But there is more. When Geppetto is released from jail, he sells his only coat to give Pinocchio money for a school book. The little punk doesn’t hesitate for a second before selling the book for theater tickets. But eventually, karma gets back at Pinocchio. He goes through series of troubles — from being hung on a tree and gambling, to getting transformed into a donkey and swallowed by a whale. Yet, there seems to be no moral lesson for the innocent young children, after all. All they get to learn from this story is that no matter if you are making your parents’ life a living hell, you will still get what you want.

4. The Original Hunchback Of Notre Dame Has A Genetic Disorder And Necrophilic Inclinations

Honestly, the moral of Disney’s supposedly polished version of Victor Hugo’s classic novel is not as inspiring as it should be. What children learn from it is that noble deeds mean nothing if your face looks like yesterday’s pizza and your body is deformed. There is, however, one good thing about Disney’s ending. Quasimodo may be left with empty hands after he benevolently gives away his beloved Esmeralda to Phoebus, but at least he lives.

In Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris, what basically happens is: blinded by jealousy and frustration, Frollo hangs Esmeralda in the public square. You somehow expect that in the last minute she is going to be rescued by Quasimodo. But nothing like this happens, so she dies. After her death, Quasimodo throws Frollo from the top of the cathedral. Then he sneaks into Esmeralda’s grave and curls around her body. He doesn’t move for days and eventually dies of starvation.

3. Snow White Is About Pathological Narcissism, Jealousy, And Vengeance

To be honest, this very first Disney princess movie follows the original story more closely than the rest. And yet, the 1938’s animated fantasy still leaves out the creepiest details of the original Brother Grimm story. For starters, the Evil Queen thinks that if she consumes raw internal organs, she’ll stay young forever. We see her eating body parts brought to her by the Huntsman, thinking she’s eating her stepdaughter’s lung and liver. But the biggest difference between Disney’s classic and Grimm’s fairy tale is the way the Queen is punished during the Prince and Snow White’s wedding reception at the end. In the original story, she is tortured terribly until she dies. She is also refused a piece of the wedding cake! Rough.

2. Mulan Loses The War

Long before Frozen, Disney’s Mulan showed how a woman can do a man’s job with only the help of a cricket and a dragon as her sidekicks. Mulan pretends to be a male warrior in order to fight against the Huns. She overcomes many hardships, defeats the enemy, and gets the man. But what really happened is far from Disney’s fabrications. Hua Mulan was an actual historical figure. She was a traditional woman of her time — she could embroider and weave, for example. But on the other hand, she could also fight. Disney’s Mulan was in the army for two years tops, while the original Mulan was in the army for 12 years. (It’s a mystery how she kept her identity secret for so long!) However, the blow comes from the fact that she didn’t have anything romantic going on with the general, nor did she win the war. She arrived home defeated and discouraged only to find that her beloved father was dead and her mother had remarried. There was nothing left to do for the disheartened warrior but to end her own life.

1. Aladdin Is A Lazy Douche And…Chinese

In the 1994 Disney film, Aladdin is an orphan who is forced to steal to survive in the streets of Agrabah together with his companion — Abu the monkey. Apart from the stealing, he is portrayed as a street-wise young man with a very strong sense of morality. The film is based on one of the best-known stories from One Thousand and One Nights, where Aladdin is… Chinese. And he is not an orphan. His personality is, in fact, far from appealing. He’d rather spend the whole day playing games with his buddies in the street than earning a living. His father is so embarrassed by his careless attitude that he literally dies of shame, and his mother has to take up weaving to sponsor his laziness.

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