Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): Strictly speaking, there are no definitive versions of fairy tales. Each tale changes with the teller, allowing variations on the semi-official versions put down by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. But some go so far that the original is nigh unrecognizable. In this regard, Disney has been a greater villain than the villains in their films. Starting with this, their debut feature—and continuing with Tangled, last year’s mangled Rapunzel take—they’ve sanitized the oft-gory or unpleasant aspects of fairy tales that delighted and/or terrified once-tougher children. Like the part where the Queen demands to eat Snow White’s heart. Or her other two assassination attempts. Or the Queen being killed by being forced to dance in iron shoes.
Cinderfella (1960): In which Jerry Lewis is turned into a handsome prince. Movie magic. Lewis’ ninth film post-Dean Martin also features such inventive switch-ups as Henry Silva, he of the high cheekbones, as one of the wicked stepbrothers.
Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy (1976): No explanation necessary, I presume.
The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1996): Courtesy British stop-motion animators the bolexbrothers, the Grimms’ pint-sized hero is reimagined as a barely-formed grotesque dwelling in a squalid urban environment whose only friends are grotesque beasts.
Bluebeard (2009): Disney would have a tough time sanitizing the tale of a husband who ritualistically marries and murders young women. For Catherine Breillat (Romance, Anatomy of Hell) it’s a perfect fit. A straight retelling is perverted by two things: the story is read by two excitable little girls, whose presence complicates matters; and Bluebeard himself (Dominique Thomas) is a porcine sadsack, who hesitantly goes through his crimes. The tale is thus recognizable but utterly new. (Breillat recently did up Sleeping Beauty, with similar results.)
Red Riding Hood (2011): Taking a page from Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Catherine Hardwicke’s overextension of a slim tale overcomes the original’s brevity by adding a Murder She Wrote mystery plot. Which was a stupid idea when Sleepy Hollow did it.
2014 Films: The Year’s Most Likely