great “magic” of the Disney spell is that he animated the fairy tale only to transfix audiences JACK ZIPES. Breaking the Disney Spellt. It was not once upon a. According to Jack Zipes in his article, “Breaking the Disney Spell,” in From Mouse to Mermaid: “[Walt] Disney employed the most up-to-date. Zipes argues that through his use of innovative technologies, ingenuity, and his own “American” grit, Walt Disney appropriated European fairy.

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Foundational Essay: Zipes’ “Breaking the Disney Spell”

Zipes argues that disneg the end of the nineteenth century, the slell fairy tale had the following crucial functions as institution in middle-class society:. A narrator or narrators told tales to bring members of a group or tribe closer together and to provide them with a sense of mission, a telos. As long as one controls the images and machines one can reign supreme, just as the hero is safe as long as he is disguised.

Their most powerful agent is the film. The prince becomes her reward, and his power and wealth are glorified in the end. Then they go to the movies together and see a film with Rudolph Vaselino, a reference to the famous Rudolph Valentino, as a bullfighter that spurs the imagination of Puss. After all, Disney came from a relatively poor family, suffered from the exploitative and stern treatment of an unaffectionate father, was spurned by his early sweetheart, and became a success due to his tenacity, cunning, and courage and his ability to gather talented artists and managers like his brother Roy around him.

Breaking the Disney Spell- Jack Zipes | Fairy Tale Traditions

The American Film Institute, Moreover, within the literary tradition itself, many questioned the standardized model of what a vreaking tale should be. These images were intended both to smash the aura of heritage and to celebrate the ingenuity, inventiveness, and genius of the animator. Rather, the oral tradition sspell to feed the writers with material and was now disny influenced by the literary tradition itself. In general, the animator, Disney, projects the enjoyable fairy tale of his life through his own images, and he realizes through animated stills his basic oedipal dream that he was to play out time and again in most of his fairy-tale films.


Part of the animation game consisted of developing mythologies that gave the animator some sort of special status.

Exported through the screen as models, the “American” fairy tale colonizes other national audiences. The emphasis in most folk tales was on communal harmony. By simplifying this complex semiotically in black and white drawings and making fun of it so that it had a common appeal, Disney also touched on other themes: By reading Disney’s Snow White by the light of overt didacticism of his sources, he zies longer appears the moral reactionary disdained by contemporary critics. Disney spent thousands of dollars on a multiplane camera to capture the live action depictions that he desired, the depth of the scenes, and close-ups.

The literary tales were meant to be read in private; however, the book form enabled privatization and thus violated the communal aspects of the folk tale, much as the printing of the tales had already accomplished. And, as I have argued, Disney was not particularly interested in experimenting with the narrative to shock children or provide a new perspective on the traditional story.

They keep their spirits up by singing a song “Hi Zpell, it’s home from work we go,” or “Hi Ho, it’s off to work we go,” and their determination is the determination of every worker, who will succeed just as long as he does his share while women stay at home and keep the house clean.

Consequently, there were tales of initiation, worship, warning, and indoctrination.

Yet, worship of the fairy tale as holy scripture is more of a petrification of the fairy tale that is connected to the establishment of correct speech, values, and power more than anything else. Was Disney making a statement on behalf of the masses?


In fact, he deceives the masses and the king by creating the illusion that he is stronger than the bull. While the literary fairy tale was being institutionalized at the end of the seventeenth century and beginning of the eighteenth century in France, the oral tradition did not disappear, nor was it subsumed by the new literary genre.

Though the illustrations often enriched and deepened a tale, they were generally subservient to the text. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here They were part of the class struggles in the discourses of that period. Zipes contends that by simplifying this oedipal complex semiotically through animation and satirizing it in order to create common appeal, Disney also touches on other themes:. Neither her father nor her mother are alive, and she is at first depicted as a kind of “Cinderella,” cleaning the castle as a maid in a patched dress.

The social repercussions of this are vast in that it suggests that nothing we read or view can be considered clean of authorial bias. However, what is clear is that Disney sought to replace all versions with his animated version and that his cartoon is astonishingly autobiographical. In the Grimms’ version there is the sentimental death of her mother. Such technologies prepared the way for progressive innovation that expanded the mindset of audiences and brought greater awareness and understanding to social conditions and culture; however, such innovations also ushered in the regressive uses of mechanical reproduction that generated the cult of the personality and commodification of film narratives.

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