Rehashing old stories for new generations

Bhoomi Sharma, Photography Editor

Disney has been a huge part of children’s lives since it was founded in the 1920’s. The animated movies they have produced have been close to the hearts of many for years, and now Disney wants to release new live-action versions of of these stories. In the past couple decades, Disney has already started releasing several live-action versions of their iconic animated movies. Our childhoods are being returned to us in ways we could never have imagined as children. The new versions also take into account the changes in the world brought by a new generation. With a sequel to “Maleficent” coming up later this year and “Dumbo” released earlier this year, we need to acknowledge that Disney’s movies have changed and that their themes and lessons have adapted to their more grown audiences.


“Maleficent,” for example, which was based on the story of “The Sleeping Beauty,” decided to show the villain’s perspective. In typical Disney fashion, the movie still displays huge acts of bravery and love, but many of them are done by Maleficent. Disney throws away the stereotypical “knight comes to save the princess” trope and instead focuses on something completely different. While Aurora, otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty, still plays a damsel in distress, she has more thoughts than just love, and her storyline does not revolve around a prince. The movie also deals with some very serious topics, and was not necessarily made for children — maybe it was made for the adults who had viewed the animated version as kids. At one point, “Maleficent” discusses consent and bodily autonomy. In the movie, Maleficent lays down next to someone she trusts and the next morning, wakes up with her wings violently stolen from her. It is clear the scene has parallels to sexual assault. Compared to most remakes, “Maleficent” was one of the most altered versions of its original story.. While it was still a love story, it focused on a different kind of love, a more motherly one. The movie prompts its viewers to think about things with different perspectives.


The movie “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is another movie that has changed its live-action version. The main character, Alice, is a lot older than her animated counterpart. The movie takes place in a time when women were still first and foremost considered their husband’s wives, but Alice takes charge of her own life. She owns her own ship and is clearly a clever business woman. Halfway through the movie, she’s thrown in a mental asylum — because according to her ex-fiance,women shouldn’t have the dreams she has. The movie teaches children to walk away from stereotypes and to think for themselves. It allows them to be curious and clever, and shows that their instincts are usually correct. The movie talks about the hysteria and disgust with which society at large treats a strong woman — the way they are called ‘crazy’, ‘too loud’ or in some cases, ‘too much of a feminist.’ It rejects the notion of a quiet submissive protagonist and allows the main character to be loud, sure of herself and a little mad, as opposed to the animated version, which stayed a little more true to the written book but has no overall lessons for children and their viewers. In the original adaptationAlice is much younger, and the movie just follows one of her most curious dreams.


“Maleficent” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass’ were movies that changed some of their plot and message to fit what needed to be heard at the time. Like other movies released before, and most probably like the movies that are yet to be released, they follow parallel plot structures with similar, but more complicated messages. Both “Maleficent” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” promote feminism and the different types of love that can exist and that matter just as much as a romantic love. Disney is discarding the template of following an old fairy tale and is instead putting their own spin on things and adapting them to fit social beliefs and things that children need to hear. They are going beyond the simple morals of ‘be kind’, or ‘don’t be materialistic’, to more complex ones.