I started watching ONCE UPON A TIME and I love it. Don’t judge me. Admittedly, my main fascination is with Robert Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin, because he’s mesmerizing – sometimes truly blood-chilling and sometimes all coiled, barely restrained power – and the chemistry they have together makes my heart ache. The accents involved don’t hurt, either. The look on his face in the season 1 finale when he sees her – it’s
But I am a little weary of the Disney version of fairy tales and classic children’s literature being so dominant in our culture. I’d like to suggest a few characters to throw into the mix.
I’m only on season 2, so I don’t know who-all gets added into the mix in the next two and a half seasons, so bear with me and no spoilers, please.
First point is, if we’re stuck with Disney only, where’s Giselle from ENCHANTED in all of this? She lives in the Land Without Magic, after all.
But on to the fun part: bringing in some non-Disney flavor.
The one that I keep coming back to, that piques my interest the most, is the Slavic folklore character Baba Yaga. Sometimes she’s solo, sometimes she’s one of a trio of sisters. We’d probably describe them as witches, but not in any sense that we recognize from Grimm or Perrault. They reward the worthy, if it pleases them, and usually after they have received something in exchange, like a period of housework or similar. And they don’t solve the problem. Instead they provide the worthy individual with a tool or two and a piece of advice to help them solve their own problems. And then there’s the distinctive characteristics. She flies around in a mortar and pestle, her house is on giant chicken legs, and frequently complains about the “Russian smell” of some of her visitors.
In general, I’d love to see OUAT tap Slavic folklore for some of its characters and imagery. Fenist the Falcon, the various Vasilisa characters (the Fair, the Wise, the Brave), the Firebird, Maria Morevna… It’d be great to see some of that world join into the Western European (and Disney-interpreted) world of OUAT.
To go back to the world of Grimm and Perrault, though – what about one of my favorite fairy tales, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” or Bluebeard, or – wait, where the heck is Rapunzel? There’s also the Goose-girl, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the Fisherman and His Wife, the Elves and the Shoemaker, Thumbling… and that’s just a tiny taste of the most commonly-known fairy tale collections in Western Europe. There are countless other story traditions from all of the world. Let’s face it, the only reason Mulan is in OUAT is because she was featured in a Disney movie. What about bringing in another taste of Asian folklore, from any of the Asian cultures? What about Jewish tradition, or Native American, or African, or South American, or Maori?
What about the creatures of myth – I mean, selchies have OUAT written all over them. A seal-woman who cannot change if you hide her sealskin? There’s something there, for sure.
Just saying. The fairy tale world is SO much richer than Disney presents.