9 Interesting Stories Behind Disney Movies You Never Knew
1. ‘Cinderella’ (1950)
Aschenputtel by the Brothers Grimm (1812)
Disney’s 1950 Cinderella version is very similar to the Grimm fairy tale except for a few grisly details surrounding the stepsisters. In the Disney version, they’re simply angry about Cinderella ending up with Prince Charming. But, in the original story, the sisters have their eyes pecked out by doves at the wedding for trying to deceive the prince. One sister cuts off her toes to fit the glass slipper and the other one cuts off her heel.
2. ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989)
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen (1837)
Disney’s ending shows Ariel becoming human and marrying Prince Eric. But the original story is much different. The Little Mermaid becomes human but suffers pain with every step of her new legs. Then the Prince rejects her to marry another. The Little Mermaid’s sisters urge her to kill the Prince which would make her a mermaid again, but she can’t do it and throws herself into the sea where she turns into seaform and becomes an earthbound spirit.
3. ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937)
Snow White by the Brothers Grimm (1812)
In both the original story and the Disney version, the Prince kisses Snow, wakes her up and carries her off. But, where the Wicked Queen falls off a cliff in the Disney version, in the Grimm tale, she attends the wedding of Snow White and the Prince and is forced to dance in hot iron shoes until she drops dead.
4. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959)
Sun, Moon, and Talia by Italian poet Giambattista Basile (1634)
Disney’s Sleeping Beauty ends with a princely kiss that awakens Princess Aurora and they dance and dance. But, in one of the original sources, things are much darker. The prince is a king and he rapes the sleeping beauty, named Talia, when he finds her. She awakens later and gives birth to twins: Sun and Moon.
5. ‘Tangled’ (2010)
Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm (1812)
Disney gives Rapunzel and her prince, Flynn Ryder, a happy ending after they meet in secret, fall in love and discover she’s a princess. But in the Grimm fairy tale, Rapunzel’s mother discovers her daughter has been sneaking out and cuts the girl’s long hair off. The mother tricks the Prince by dangling it out the window. He climbs up, discovers the ruse and throws himself off the tower, blinding himself on the thorns below.
6. ‘Pinocchio’ (1940)
The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (1983)
Disney took the main details from Collodi’s story—Pinocchio is a marionette created by Gepetto and his nose grows in tune with his lies—but his personality is much different. He’s a mischievous little brat, laughing in Gepetto’s face after coming alive and killing the Jiminy Cricket character. In the end, he doesn’t become a real boy, he’s murdered by the Fox and the Cat.
7. ‘Mulan’ (1998)
Ballad of Mulan (5th-6th century China)
Disney’s Mulan disguises herself as a man so she can fight for her family against the Huns. She becomes a great warrior and honors her family greatly. The story comes from an ancient Chinese ballad about the legendary woman warrior Hua Mulan, who returns home from war to find her home in shambles. She’s beckoned to become a concubine, but commits suicide instead.
8. ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ (1996)
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (1831)
Disney’s ending sees Quasimodo as a hero and accepting of Esmerelda’s love of Phoebus. Frollo is killed by the Hunchback in both versions. But, in the original novel, nobody gets off easy. Esmerelda is executed by hanging and Quasimodo, overcome with grief, sits by her grave until he eventually dies of starvation.
9. ‘The Fox and the Hound’ (1981)
The Fox and the Hound by Daniel P. Mannix (1967)
Disney really changed this one, which ends in horrific tragedy. The disney tale is predictably happy as Copper the hound saves Tod the fox and reflects on their first meeting in happiness. In the novel, however, Tod dies from exhaustion and Copper returns home with his master, only to be shot to death when the man has to enter a nursing home.