Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Smackdown: Fairy Tale Style

In honor of The Princess and the Frog today, our Saturday Smackdown features two classic princesses that have inspired generations of girls for more than half a century each. Arguably, since both are based on classic fairytales that are centuries older than their animated counterparts, their influence is considerable on classic and modern romantic literature.

Fairy Tales

The beauty of a fairy tale is the transcendence from everyday life to a magical place or time where happily ever after is not only possible, it is required. As a culture, we love fairy tales; we love the idea of the underdog triumphing, of true love's first kiss and of love at first sight. We believe in men who will slay dragons to be with the one they love and of men who see beyond the shallow and innocuous to the true beauty that is within. You will find all of these qualities in our two superb fairy tale contenders. However, it is up to you to choose which one is the better.

One lucky commentator will win a $10 gift certificate to Amazon next Saturday just in time for that last minute shopping!


At a tender young age, Cinderella's father remarried a duchess to give his motherless child a mother and sisters. His title and wealth were a boon to his new wife, but she and her daughters often resented the close relationship Cinderella had with her father. When her father perished, the Duchess now controlled the household, the wealth and the position. She banished Cinderella from her fine rooms, fine clothing and possessions to live as a scullery maid, keeping care of her boorish sisters and cruel stepmother.

Despite her stepmother's every attempt, Cinderella's spirit remained strong. She found pleasure in the simple joys and worked tirelessly. When the King summoned every eligible maiden in the land to a ball for the Prince in hopes that his son would choose a bride, Cinderella's wicked stepsisters were all flutter. Of course, Cinderella wanted to go as well and since she was technically an eligible maiden, her stepmother couldn't forbid her.

Unfortunately, she did place numerous roadblocks in the way, loading her up with chores and preparations so that by the time of the Ball, the young girl would be too tasked to go. In the Disney Classic, Cinderella's animal friends finished her dress for her with cast offs from the sisters. Sadly, it was those cast offs that gave the wicked pair an excuse to shred the dress and abandon the miserable girl to her sobs as they flounced off to the Ball.

Enter the Fairy Godmother who gives Cinderella a wonderful wish from her fabulous gown to her pumpkin turned coach and animals transformed in coachman, footman and horses. She sends Cinderella off to the ball with the admonishment that the magic will evaporate at midnight. Thrilled to have this wonderful experience away from her drudge of a life, Cinderella arrives quietly at the palace.

The Prince is taken with her quiet shyness and gentle beauty. They dance, they talk and they share a wonderful evening, but at midnight, she flees from him and leaves only a glass slipper behind. Thus begins the Prince's quest to find the beautiful girl who so captivates him. Every woman in the land tries on the slipper and with a few mishaps (and in the bloodier versions sliced off toes), Cinderella is finally found and the shoe fits.

She and the Prince are wed and they live happily ever after.

Sleeping Beauty

In a faraway place, two Kings are the closet of friends. Nevertheless, one King (Disney calls him Stefan) and his wife are desperate for a child. When the Queen finally gives birth to a healthy baby girl, there is much rejoicing. The King invites everyone from far and near to come and celebrates the little Princess. She is betrothed to his good friend's young son: the Prince Phillip. The party is in full swing, with the good fairies giving their blessings only to have the third and final blessing interrupted by the arrival of Maleficent.

The dark fairy Queen was apparently left off the guest list by either accident or design. She is quite insulted at having been so left out of the festivities and uses her own dark magic to curse the baby. She promises that on her sixteenth birthday, the girl will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. That is her gift. The third fairy cannot undo the curse, but she does mitigate it. She says the princess will sleep, not die, until true love's kiss can wake her.

Now in the Disney version, Aurora is secreted away with the three good fairies to a humble cottage deep in the forests. She is rechristened Briar Rose and raised by her three old aunts. She enjoys wandering in the woods, gathering food, singing to the animals and living the simple life. The fairies keep her hidden so that Maleficent cannot force the curse to come true. They hope if she can make it through her sixteenth birthday without pricking her finger, then the curse will be broken.

Of course, Briar Rose encounters Phillip one afternoon and the two strike up a friendship and an attraction. The Prince has not seen his betrothed since he was a child and has no interest in marrying a stranger. He goes to tell his father of his plans, but the King is not interested in Phillip's infatuations. He wants Phillip to marry Aurora, end of story. Phillip heads back into the woods to meet with Briar Rose at the cottage, but finds it dark, cold and forbidding.

Maleficent has finally located the Princess and is laying in wait. She and her goblins take Phillip captive, chaining him in the dark castle, far away from Briar Rose whom he learns is Aurora. Maleficent uses her magic to lure Aurora to the top of a tower, where she pricks her finger and collapses into a deep sleep. Maleficent rubs it in that Phillip will be old and infirm before she will let him go – because only his kiss can rouse the sleeping Princess.

With the help of the good fairies, Phillip breaks free and armed with the sword and shield of Valor, he battles his way free of Maleficent's Keep and through the thick thorns barricading Aurora's castle. There, he confronts Maleficent in all her evil glory as she transforms into a dragon. In epic conflict, he slays the dragon and finds his way to Aurora's side where he wakes her with a single kiss. The pair then lives happily ever after.

Modern Magic

These tales continue to enchant with their timeless tales of magic, adventure and love conquering all. Which fairy tale reigns supreme? Only you can decide. Tell me, do you believe in magic?

So it's smackdown time, post your choice and all comments count towards winning a $10 Amazon gift certificate. The winner will be notified via email next week.


  1. I love Cinderella. I especially like her when she is portrayed as having guts. While the Disney classics are classic, I particularly enjoyed Drew Barrymore's interpretation in "Ever After". Dougray Scott is pretty easy on the eyes too.

  2. I'm for Cinderella too! There is a nice German movie about it and it's my favorite every year for Xmas.

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with Lisa. Love the Disney Cinderella because it is a classic, but Drew's interpretation is fabulous. I love all of the nuances she brings to the character and all of the characters that populate the story - who can forget DaVinci and the Gypsies? It's a classic in its own right.

  4. Wow, what a hard decision. On one hand, the dragon fighting dude, endangering his life for the beauty, but then there is the love that sees beyond the surface. Sigh. I have to go with Cinderella. I just saw a HS version of the musical last weekend. They had a pumpkin carriage that was a frame on wheels with twinkle lights and tule. SO enchanting:)

  5. Oh I can't really disagree with the opinion of Ever After, it's definitely one of my all time favorite romantic films and probably the best adaption of the Cinderella story I've ever had the pleasure of watching.

  6. Cinderella! She got such a bum deal, she deserved a "second chance"

  7. Does anyone know why Disney named Sleeping Beauty's villainess Maleficent, but in the classic ballet version she's Carabosse?

  8. i'd have to go with cinderella. my favorite adaptation of it has to be the book Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. i couldn't stand the movie version of it (it was soo BAD--one of the worst book to movie adaptation ever if not THE WORST). but i'm a cinderella girl all the way. i also loved the ever after movie adaptation of it.

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  9. Cinderella always been my favorite. And I love seeing adaptions of it too!

  10. I like cinderella. It seem to me she worked to get her prince

  11. lol looks like I am going to be an oddball and go for sleeping beauty. Why the prince had to sleigh a nasty old dragon for his princess. Love that.

  12. Putting my vote in for Cinderella...I'd hate to sleep through all the excitement.

  13. Cinderella for me. I love the story but hate what Cinderella endures at the hands of the wicked stepmother and her daughters.