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I AIN’T NO TRICK BABY OR PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: GENDER BOUNDARIES AND FEMALE MOBILITY IN FREEWAY, SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF T...


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I AINT NO TRICK BABYŽ OR PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: GENDER BOUNDARIES AND FEMALE MOBILITY IN FREEWAY SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR AND EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY By JULIE A. SINN A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2001

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Copyright 2001 by Julie A. Sinn

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For the cute red-headed Irish boy who used to smile at me every morning on my way to class at University College Cork.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Kenneth Kidd and Dr. John Cech. Without their help and guidance, I might still be gyring and gimbling in the thesis wabe. Secondly, I want to thank my mom who made me finish my homework before I could watch any television, my dad who supported my academic choices, and my sister who only threatened to beat me up but never actually did. A "thank you" also goes to Todd Reynolds who has now heard more about fairy tales than he probably ever wanted to know, to Lisa Hager who had to continually read and reread various sections of my work instead of watching Buffy reruns, to Jason Matteson who kept me grounded, and to Janusz Jaworski who nudged my creativity. Finally, a big 50-11 goes to my Fort Scott friends who are currently scattered all over the world and a big hug goes to all the rest of my friends and family who have loved and supported me throughout my life.

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v TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ..............................................................................................iv ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................. vi CHAPTERS 1 GO INTO THE WOODS ............................................................................................1 2 STAND UP TO THE WOLF ......................................................................................5 3 AVOID GROWING OLD ........................................................................................15 4 FIND A VOICE ....................................................................................................... 24 5 LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER ...............................................................................30 LIST OF REFERENCES ..............................................................................................32 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................33

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vi Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts "I AINT NO TRICK BABY" OR PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: GENDER BOUNDARIES AND FEMALE MOBILITY IN FREEWAY SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR AND EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY By Julie A. Sinn December 2001 Chairperson: Dr. Kenneth Kidd Major Department: English The 1990s witnessed a resurgence of the fairy tale in literary and film form as well as in feminist and cultural criticism. In the thick of these texts and collections that question the complexities of feminine agency, the following three big budget fairy tale films emerged: Freeway (1996), Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), and Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998). While each of these films has its own distinct narrative and cinemagraphic style, they all share the common plot element of a female protagonist who does not fit neatly into the presupposed gender and class definitions that are generally prevalent in traditional, literary fairy tales from anthologists such as the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, or Hans Christian Andersen. These three films are a part of the 1990s deluge of feminist fairy tale production and feminist and/or Marxist criticism that focuses on re-examining, rebuilding, and/or reclassifying the mobility and gender boundaries of women in fairy tales. In Freeway we watch as Vanessa, a lower class girl whose cultural literacy extends beyond her reading ability, outwits and survives a wolfish Freeway

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vii Killer in bourgeois clothing. Then, in Snow White: A Tale of Terror we watch as the focus of the film shifts from Lilliana, the Snow White character, to the stepmothers descent into a mid-life madness where she tries to consume Lillianas youth and beauty. Finally, in Ever After: A Cinderella Story we watch as Danielle transforms from a dirtspattered young girl into a clean, boundary crossing young woman whose quick wit and wisdom saves her servant (and friend) from being exiled to the Americas, her dead fathers land from bankruptcy, and the Crown Prince of France from gypsies as well as from his own careless self-destruction. Since the female characters within these films are pushing the boundaries of how a fairy tale heroine may or may not fit traditional gender roles, not only do the these three postmodern films utilize the stylized form often seen in traditional literary fairy tales, but they also approximate oral narrative traditions that include preliterate/innocent characters, a multiplicity of voices and/or storytellers, and a shift in the main focus of the story„as if these film versions of traditional fairy tales are giving a bit of a wink and a nudge to oral tradition through each narratives stylized opening.

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1 CHAPTER 1 GO INTO THE WOODS The 1990s witnessed a resurgence of the fairy tale in literary and film form as well as in feminist and cultural criticism. From 1993 to 2000, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling published Snow White, Blood Red ; Black Thorn, White Rose; Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears ; Silver Birch, Blood Moon ; and Black Heart, Ivory Bones five anthologies of short stories drawn from authors such as Tanith Lee, Patricia Wrede, and Jane Yolan who re-examine and re-vision familiar fairy tale tropes. Also in 1993, The Bloody Chamber Angela Carters collection of dark, sensual, and witty feminist fairy tales, was reissued. Traversing the boundary between academic criticism and pop culture, works like Clarissa Pinkola Estess Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (1992), Jacqueline M. Schectmans The Stepmother in Fairy Tales: Bereavement and the Feminine Shadow (1993), and Marina Warners From the Beast to the Blonde (1994) connect contemporary constructions of femininity to their popular feminine counterparts often found in folklore, legends, myths, and fairy tales. Moreover, in Kate Bernheimers Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (1998) women writers such as Margaret Atwood, bell hooks, and Joyce Carol Oates comment upon and/or rewrite their favorite childhood fairy tales in order to explore the impact of these tales on their lives. As if in anticipation of the multiple fairy tale films to come, Jack Zipes published his essay "Towards a Theory of Fairy Tale Film" in which he promotes the self-contained genre of fairy tale film while at the same time marking films place in the dissemination of the fairy tale meta-narrative. Zipess promotion of "a theory of the

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2 fairy-tale film as genre" not only links animated, fairy tale films to their oral and literary predecessors, but also provides the groundwork for connecting oral and literary fairy tales to contemporary versions of fairy tales created through hypertext media, videogames, and live-action films ("Towards" 1). In the thick of these texts and collections that question the complexities of feminine agency, the following three big budget fairy tale films emerged: Freeway (1996), Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), and Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998). While each of these films has its own distinct narrative and cinemagraphic style, they all share the common plot element of a female protagonist who does not fit neatly into the presupposed gender and class definitions that are generally prevalent in traditional, literary fairy tales from anthologists such as the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, or Hans Christian Andersen. These three films are a part of the 1990s deluge of feminist fairy tale production and feminist and/or Marxist criticism that focuses on re-examining, rebuilding, and/or reclassifying the mobility and gender boundaries of women in fairy tales. In Freeway we watch as Vanessa, a lower class girl whose cultural literacy extends beyond her reading ability, outwits and survives a wolfish Freeway Killer in bourgeois clothing. Then, in Snow White: A Tale of Terror we watch as the focus of the film shifts from Lilliana, the Snow White character, to the stepmothers descent into a mid-life madness where she tries to consume Lillianas youth and beauty. Finally, in Ever After: A Cinderella Story we watch as Danielle transforms from a dirt-spattered young girl into a clean, boundary crossing young woman whose quick wit and wisdom saves her servant (and friend) from being exiled to the Americas, her dead fathers land from bankruptcy, and the Crown Prince of France from gypsies as well as from his own

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3 careless self-destruction. Since the female characters within these films are pushing the boundaries of how a fairy tale heroine may or may not fit traditional gender roles, not only do the these three postmodern films utilize the stylized form often seen in traditional literary fairy tales, but they also approximate oral narrative traditions that include preliterate/innocent characters, a multiplicity of voices and/or storytellers, and a shift in the main focus of the story„as if these film versions of traditional fairy tales are giving a bit of a wink and a nudge to oral tradition through each narratives stylized opening. In order for film to manipulate the rigid class and gender structures that exist within fairy tale tradition, it must draw its stories from fairy tales with which the common person„regardless of social class„is familiar. Even if that person has never read a book, she or he has certainly had a fairy tale story read to her or him as a child at home or been introduced to the structure of fairy tales while listening to music, watching television, or walking down a street. For example, the rock musicians Green Jelly (formerly Green Jello) have performed "Three Little Pigs," the classic tale of a wolf verses house-building pigs. Moreover, the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show introduced television audiences to "Fractured Fairytales" and HBO is currently hosting a fairy tale cartoon hour that attempts to rewrite traditional fairy tales in a multicultural way. As Zipes points out, it is almost "natural that there be fairy-tale film since fairy tales are so much part of our cultural heritage as oral and literary tales" ("Towards" 1). If the basic fairy tale is coupled with a film format, then that version of the tale is one step closer to returning to oral tradition rather than a printed text which may or not be considered progressive by modern standards.

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4 The relatively current influx of the live-action, fairy tale film brings with it a return to oral traditions where the "taleteller" or film director is "highly regarded within a community," no matter the communitys size or social makeup„where "listeners" or watchers "could be placed under a spell, as if in awe" ("Towards" 2). Even as Zipes describes the "awe" that a talented "taleteller" can establish within a community of listeners, his words are applicable to the fairy tale film tradition in which we, the audience, identify with the actresses and actors moving about the screen in distant, yet somehow familiar, settings. They are able to question the boundaries of mobility in situations that we in the audience might only partake in by watching the film. Furthermore, Zipes states that "to be in awe is to be in a special place linked with the teller and other members of the group, transcending reality for a brief moment, to be transported to extraordinary regions of experience" ("Towards" 2). This statement is not applicable solely to oral tales. Who would argue, when watching a particularly wonderful film in a darkened theater, that she or he did not "transcend reality" if only for a "brief moment" ("Towards" 2)? Moreover, whether watching a film on the big screen or in the privacy of the home, as soon as a film begins the spectator instantly becomes a member of the films communal audience, becomes "linked" to "other members of the group." Here we see that the importance that Zipes places on the oral transference of a story easily applies to a visual variant of that story. By creating a communal audience, film is also creating a space in which to explore current questions of female mobility.

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5 CHAPTER 2 STAND UP TO THE WOLF Live-action, fairy tale film returns to oral fairy tale tradition in a way that Zipes does not consider in "Towards a Theory of the Fairy-Tale Film." On the one hand, I agree with Zipes when he writes that fairy tale films "silenced the personal and communal voice" of oral tales, especially since he is basing his judgement on the multitude of animated fairy tale films that Disney has produced as well as other earlier live-action films whose sole content resided in tricks of the camera ("Towards" 6). Yet, while these earlier, visual-effects driven films do squelch the variable voice of the oral narrator, Zipes oversimplifies the multiple voices that are heard within oral tradition„the mix of storyteller and audience. The dissemination of an oral tale relied not only on the wandering storyteller, but also on the women who shared the tale while quilting, the men who retold the tale while farming, and the children who whispered the "naughty" parts of the tale while playing„all of whom both retold and recreated the tale to fit their own personal desires or the desires of those around them. Not only does Zipes oversimplify the oral tales multiple voices, but he also overlooks the way in which a film fairy tale diminishes the audiences need for a traditional reading literacy in the same manner that an oral tales does. The ability to read is not important when listening to a storyteller, nor is it important when watching a film. This lack of literacy in oral tradition and fairy tale film is particularly exemplified in the Little Red Riding Hood characterization of Freeway s Vanessa. The first time the audience sees Vanessa, she is in school struggling to read the sentence, "The cat drinks

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6 milk." Even though we later find out that she has an amazingly large vocabulary, in school she is practically illiterate; thus providing evidence that Vanessa is actually innocent and virtuous like her traditional fairy tale counterpart because she has not received the full advantage of a school-based education. As the film progresses, we find that Vanessa is certainly not the good little girl who takes a basket of wine, cheese, and bread to her grandmothers house in order to feed and comfort her sick grandmother. Rather, she is a young woman on the run from social services who wants to live with her grandmother in order to avoid being placed back into foster care. Yet, anyone who is familiar with any version of the Little Red Riding Hood story„excluding Perraults version„expects that this illiterate but street smart girl will triumph in the end. Although, for that matter, we know that Vanessa will triumph simply because her role as the heroine implies that she must. The Freeway Killer, whose real name is Bob Wolverton, is a psychologist at an all-boys school. Judging by his outward appearance, Bob looks like a decent enough fellow. His clean cut appearance/persona, respectful mannerisms, and SUV mark him as someone of affluence who can be trusted. Incidentally, Bobs neighbors would probably say, Bob was such a nice, quiet man. We never would have expected him to be a serial killer.Ž Also, since Bobs job is to listen to people, to be submissive/passive, he initially portrays the characteristics expected in a fairy tale heroine. However, he uses these characteristics against women in order to gain their trust before killing them. As his name suggests, Bob is a generic„a white-skinned, blue-eyed mixture of every wolf from every fairy tale, every evil that would want to harm a woman. But, what makes him even more frightful is that he is a well-bred, moneyed member of privileged society, and not

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7 some random, classless nobody. When Vanessa initially shoots him, the news footage and interviews about the tragedy and horror that struck Bob are indications of Bobs affluence and social status. Ultimately, Vanessas lack of literacy and the lack of education that being nearly illiterate implies are celebrated when she denounces Bob, the Freeway Killer, for his hypocritical ways: VANESSA. You know maybe I aint smart like you, maybe I havent finished school, but at least I aint a fucking hypocrite. BOB. Vanessa, please indulge me. Please tell me why I am a hypocrite. VANESSA. You act like yous all on some sort of mission, but all you want to do is get off in a sex-type way. Though she lacks the power of traditional literacy, Vanessa refuses to remain a silent object who is gazed upon. Even in this short exchange, the difference in education between Bob and Vanessa is exemplified not only in Bobs lack of contractions, but also in Vanessas use of ungrammatical contractions such as "aint" and "yous." Moreover, Bob likes to tell himself that he is on a mission to rid the world of unwed mothers, crack whores, and Lolitas. He essentially tells his young victims that they are blights on society that must be eradicated, and he is just the man„the educated, well-bred, white man„to wipe them out. In contrast to Bob, "I aint smart like you" Vanessa proves that a traditional education is not necessarily a demarcation of intelligence. She sees through Bobs outer faade of breeding and into his need to "get off in a sex-type way." This short exchange between Vanessa and Bob that highlights their educational differences also indicates the differences in class and the different social norms within those classes.

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8 Since Bobs job is to listen to young peoples problems, he spends most of the afternoon gaining Vanessas trust and asking her questions about her childhood„particularly about her stepfather Larry and their sexual relations. Bob claims he is trying a new, experimental therapy with Vanessa; but when his line of questioning starts to blame her for her stepfathers inappropriate actions, Vanessa demands her freedom from the vehicle: BOB. Vanessa, did you like it when Larry fucked you? VANESSA. You piece of shit. BOB. Vanessa, I told you that this can get very, very uncomfortableƒ VANESSA. Pull on over, right now! BOB. We are not finished yet. VANESSA. Oh, yes we are! We are definitely finished! Now, you pull on over! Until this moment, Bob had been extremely professional in his choice of words. Not once had he used a slang term like "fuck," rather he spoke professionally using words such as "perform oral sex" or "ejaculation." Even though Vanessa raises her voice with each sentence she speaks, Bob remains calm since his professional identity as both psychologist and psycho-killer demands it. Once Vanessas demands are not met, she gains control of the situation by taking the keys out of the ignition and throwing them on the floor, which causes Bob to pull onto the shoulder of the highway. Unfortunately, Vanessa quickly loses control of this situation when she realizes that Bob has already removed the doors handle. Hence, they are back to where they first met„on the side of

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9 the freeway„and in this moment Vanessa realizes that clean-cut, married Bob is the Freeway Killer. In her innocence, she is taken by surprise. Yet, even before Bob reveals himself as the Freeway Killer, street savvy Vanessa willingly climbs into a strangers vehicle, instantly breaking the "never get into a car with a person you dont know" rule that most children learn at the age of three. Vanessa did not mean for her car to breakdown, and she certainly did not know Bob before he picked her up; however, her lack of wariness in this situation might lead an audience to wonder whether or not Vanessa is asking for trouble. What audiences are probably unaware of while watching this scene is that Vanessas lack of fear when meeting the "wolf" parallels almost every childrens book illustration of this scene. According to Zipess study of the illustrations of Little Red Riding Hood in Dont Bet on the Prince, "the girl is rarely afraid of the wolf, despite his large size and animal appearance" ("Second Gaze" 235). Rather, in the illustrations the girl looks intently into the wolfs eyes, suggesting further the notion that she is familiar with the wolf and that she is looking forward to his sexual advances. Zipes points out that the girl in the illustrations appears to want to be raped by "a male creature" with a "voracious appetite" who desires to "dominate and violate women" ("Second Gaze" 242). At least that is what the male illustrator wants his viewers to imagine about the young girl. She is portrayed as the innocent who knows more than we give her credit for knowing. In this same way, the scenes leading up to Vanessa meeting Bob initially indicates that Vanessa wants sex„wants to be raped„by Bob or any other "male creature," but her words and actions disprove this initial connotation. In order for a girl such as Little Red or Vanessa to remain unfrightened by a monstrous wolf, she must be innocent of that wolfs intentions. Yet, in her innocence she is blamed:

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10 BOB. Look at you. Youre already a master at the manipulation of men. VANESSA. I didnt run nothin on you. BOB. Its so intrinsic to your fucking nature youre not even aware of it when you do it. Not only do we blame Little Red for telling a wolfish stranger that she is on her way to grandmothers house, but we also blame Vanessa for getting into Bobs SUV. If this blame goes unchecked, then we, too, fall into the same pattern as Bob, who thinks Vanessas innocence is a contrived trick to capture men, or the illustrators mentioned above, who portray Little Reds innocence as a familiarity. The traditional story elements of "Little Red Riding Hood" dictate that there must be two seduction scenes: an initial scene that mimics the pictorial representations of Little Red meeting the Wolf, and a secondary scene when the Wolf dons the Grandmothers clothing and coaxes Little Red into the house and/or into the bed. Yet, when Vanessa reaches her grandmothers trailer, she is not easily fooled by Bobs outer grandmotherlike lineaments. Not only does Vanessa not wait for an invitation to enter the house, but she also is not seduced into taking her clothes off and climbing into bed. Rather than fly out of the room, her fight reflexes take over as soon as Vanessa sees through Bobs disguise. Unlike other versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Vanessa will not receive the kind help of a woodsman nor will she simply flee grandmothers house. (Earlier in the film, Vanessas boyfriend and fianc Chopper, whose name indicates that he is a potential woodsman and savior, was caught and killed in a premeditated drive-by shooting.) Vanessa clearly dominates within this situation as she brutally beats Bob with a table lamp and then strangles him until he is undeniably dead. Basically, she destroys

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11 Bob because she knows that if she does not, he will gobble her up and then go on to murder and rape other female victims. Help, in the form of police protection, does not arrive until after Bob is dead and Vanessa is covered in blood. In Vanessa, we see the triumph of cultural literacy over reading literacy, yet even this is not enough to initially outsmart a bourgeois wolf like Bob. Bobs class standing ultimately strangles Vanessas cultural awareness while at the same time forcing Vanessa into restructuring her cultural views. He knows that he will not go to jail„not when the courts view Vanessas previous jail record. In the world according to Bob, people like him„people with money„can do whatever to whomever they please. His wife is beautiful, charming, rigidly faithful, and incredibly shallow„an index to Bobs mental disjunctures. Her faith in her husband does not waiver until his stash of S & M adult and kiddie porn is recovered from a shed in the back yard. Similar to his wife, his huge, immaculately clean, and pristinely white house is a showpiece, a mask to conceal his inward intentions from the outside world. Moreover, since Bob is well respected in his work and well educated, his particular type of wolfishness stems from upper class. He imagines that societys laws do not directly apply to him since he is part of the upper bourgeois who establishes social norms; yet this film, particularly its ending, would indicate otherwise. Initially, his philosophy may seem false since we were raised to believe that justice is blind, but the police system is in place simply to keep the working class in check. Bob is completely aware of these class politics; therefore he feels he has every right to take matters into his own hands when ridding the world of lowest type of working class people: VANESSA. Whyre you killin all them girls, Bob?

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12 BOB. Because Ive absolutely reached my fucking limit with people like you, Vanessa. VANESSA. What kind of people am I suppose to be? BOB. Alcoholics, the drug addicts, the fathers who fuck their daughters, the drug addicted motherfuckin whores with their bastard fuckin offspring. VANESSA. Hey, I aint no trick baby. BOB. Vanessa, I call them garbage people and I assure you, you are one of them. In this exchange, not only do we learn the motives behind Bobs murders, but we also learn about his shortsightedness. He might be able to see the social problems that exist outside of his own class, but he is not able to see the problems that exist within his class boundaries. Here, Bob falsely assumes that only working class people, a class in which he places Vanessa, are alcoholics and drug addicts. Thus he ignores the alcohol, drugs, incest cases, and "bastard fuckin offspring" that exist at all social levels. Rather than see these issues as critical problems that need to be corrected within all of society, Bob relegates them to a position of class standing. As soon as Vanessa realizes that her life is in danger, she gains control over Bob by brandishing the gun she was planning to sell in order to make some money for her trip. Even though Vanessa does not hold the police in the highest esteem, since they have taken her mother and stepfather away on numerous occasions, she does think that they are her only choice in this situation since it is their duty to prosecute those people who break the law:

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13 VANESSA. Im gonna turn you in to the fuckin pigs thats what Im gonna do. BOB. Well, you know what will happen then dont you? VANESSA. Yeah, youll end up suckin gas at San Quentin. BOB. Vanessa, Vanessa, people like me, we dont go to the gas chamber. If Bob is convicted of multiple murders, he will, as Vanessa says, "end up suckin gas at San Quentin." But, while Bob is afraid of Vanessas gun and therefore Vanessa, he is not afraid of the police. He knows that murdering innocents is against the law, but he still trusts the legal system to keep him out of jail since in his mind he not low-class scum: VANESSA. Then youll go the penitentiary where the Mighty Aryan Brotherhood will make you wish youd never been born. BOB. Vanessa the likelihood of someone like me going to prison is absolutely nil. VANESSA. You think theyre just gonna just let you walk? BOB. They wont take me for a killer. Theyll let me go free. Theyll send you to some new foster home. Once again, Bob knows that in the courts it will be his word against hers. He also knows that his class status and clean personal record gives him the upper hand over Vanessas criminal past. Since he does not have the markings of a criminal, let alone the markings a killer who rapes his dead victims, he knows that he will walk out of the courtroom a free man. This possible truth ultimately leads Vanessa to liquidate Bob. Thus, she initially shoots Bob several times in the back the first time that she uncovers his secret life, and then she finally succeeds when she strangles him to death in her grandmothers

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14 trailer„the classic space of "white trash." Vanessa would rather live with the consequences of murdering a psycho-killer masquerading as high class, than live with the knowledge that Bob could and would kill other innocent women.

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15 CHAPTER 3 AVOID GROWING OLD Even as the fairy tale film pushes against the edges of social boundaries, it also conforms to certain preconceived gender roles established specifically for women in fairy tales. Not only must a heroine keep her voice in check while at the same time finding it, she must also wait for her prince to come and save her from a life of toil and drudgery. Witnessing the growth and formation of a young girl within a fairy tale is fairly common, and, as expected, the girl will prick her finger, run away, or be locked up as soon as puberty starts. In the literary fairy tales of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, the good girl remained silent while passively waiting in a tree to be rescued or comfortably sleeping for thousands of years. In contrast, the wicked girl did not pause for breath and had nothing nice to say. Even in the Disney feature-length version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Snow White is remembered for her songs, not for what she says. Her voice is only for providing the audience and the dwarves with pleasure in the same way that a pet birds singing provides pleasure for its owner. The opposite of the voiceless heroine is found in Vanessa, Lilliana, and Danielle „two of whom utilize their ability to speak boldly from childhood on and one of whom discovers her voice along the way to adulthood. In these cases, finding a voice of ones own is an extension of finding ones self. When a fairy tale film deviates from these norms, it also deviates from the social expectation that fairy tales are strictly meant to provide didactic lessons for children. Since the production of live-action fairy tale films has made room for the exploration of

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16 topics deemed by the consuming society as not suitable for young children, it perpetuates and rewrites oral tradition by struggling with societys class and gender expectations. Snow White: A Tale of Terror returns to oral tradition through the films shift in focus from a young girl to a seemingly innocuous stepmother who refuses to age gracefully. In the same way that a storyteller is able to change the focus of the story in response to audience expectations, film is also able to change the focus of the story in order to draw in its desired audience. Few adults would be willing to pay money to see a film titled something like "Snow White: A Tale of Feelings, Family, and Female Bonding.Ž Unless they mistake bondingŽ for bondage,Ž then a slew of people might show up. Even though the title of the film„ Snow White: A Tale of Terror „upholds the traditional importance of the role of Snow White, little is known of the actress who plays Lilliana, the Snow White character. Her name is not even mentioned in the blurb on the back of the videos jacket. Instead, the films star is Sigourney Weaver, and thus the films focus is on Weavers portrayal of the wicked stepmother, Lady Claudia. Within the same blurb that ignores Lilliana, we read that "the real tale of Snow White, starring Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill, is a tale of relentless terror and unimaginable horror." Here we see that the real tale of Snow White is not at all about a young girls struggle to come of age while her stepmother literally talks to a mirror, but rather it is about horrors that we cannot even imagine. Horrors that spawn from Lady Claudias refusal to accept the inevitability of aging and lead Lilliana to young-adult independence. Horrors that exacerbate the image of the hysterical, menopausal woman struggling to retain her youth and beauty. All the while, Lady Claudia is talking to a magical mirror that remains hidden within a standing wooden wardrobe behind two doors that are shaped to resemble

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17 the body of a woman in long robes. Her clasped hands hold a lily, the namesake of Lilliana „also the symbol of resurrection, rebirth, and the Virgin Mary. A transformation of character and a magic mirror sufficiently fulfills an audiences fairy tale expectations of a wicked stepmother, but this film pushes the importance of these characteristics by shifting the focus of the story from Lilliana to Lady Claudia. Thus, a films director, like a talented storyteller, can anticipate what an audience will respond to and tweak the story accordingly. The "tale of terror" begins in a snow-covered forest full of folkloric symbols of evil and/or death„dead trees, voracious wolves, and a squawking crow. Not only has the snow caused dead tree limbs to fall across the only navigable path through the forest, but the hungry wolves and the black crow are also focusing their attention on the path. As the credits begin, the carriage containing Lillianas pregnant mother and solicitous father, Lady Lilliana and Lord Fredrick Hoffman, tumbles down a snow-covered embankment after the horses pulling the carriage towards home are spooked by a pack of hungry wolves with glowing eyes. The coachman and the horses instantly fall prey to the desires of the carnivorous wolves, while Lady Lilliana and Fredrick appear to be unharmed by the carriages roll down the hill, until Lady Lilliana says that she cannot breath. Fredrick pulls back Lady Lillianas cloak to reveal a large chunk of wood piercing her chest. Since she knows she is going to die, she hands Fredrick a sharp, dark knife and demands that Fredrick "must save the baby" because "she is coming." In the same way that Lady Lillianas blood is initially shed when she accidentally pricks her finger while stitching a wintercap and wishing for a little girl, Lady Lillianas blood is shed again in the midst of winter at the birth of her baby girl. Even though we do not see

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18 Fredrick slice open the uterus of his wife, we do witness the rush of deep red blood flowing across the cold, white snow. Over this image is the title of the film, Snow White: A Tale of Terror and the faint sound of a baby crying. Thus, amongst the portents of death and blood, baby Lilliana is born and the opening credits continue. However, this dark setting changes to a pleasantly bright look at Lilliana as a young child. When we first witness young Lilliana, she is trying to hide her giggles in her hands while crouching down behind a statue of a praying angel, because Lillianas nanny, Nano, is looking for her. Even though Lilliana is hiding in a cemetery, she is crouched behind her mothers headstone and appears to be in no danger. The fall day is sunshiny bright and a light breeze rustles the leaves in the trees. Once Nano finds Lilliana and they are walking back towards the castle, Lilliana asks Nano to "tell [her] the story." This is when we learn from Nano that "one day, not so long ago" Lady Lilliana pricked her finger while stitching a wintercap and wishing for a girl. Even though Nano begins her retelling of the tale with a traditional storyteller-like opening that parallels the version of "Snow White" published by the Brothers Grimm, the Queen does not specify the gender of the child in the Grimm version like she supposedly did in this version. When Nano teasingly changes the gender of the wished for child from a girl to a boy, Lilliana laughs and corrects her. Obviously, Lilliana knows this tale of her birth by heart since she then finishes telling the story herself: "a little girl with hair as black as the ebony window frame and skin as pale as the snow and lips as red as blood." As outside viewers, we cannot know if the Queen actually wished for a little girl or if the various adults who have passed the story down to Lilliana added that small bit of information in order to comfort a motherless girl-child. Moreover, we do not hear the rest of the story as

PAGE 26

19 the two of them continue to walk towards the castle because the tale of terror is not yet over. For the audience, this tranquil moment is only an interlude in the expected horror that is to come. Thus through the course of the opening credits the archetype of the storyteller in oral tradition is evoked twice. The first time is in the very title of the film; through the use of the word "tale" in "A Tale of Terror," we know that we are about to be told a story. The second time is in the oral tradition of passing a story down from an older generation to a younger one, creating a narrative within the narrative of the film that can shift according to the whims of the storyteller or the listener. In order for this story to further approximate these forms of oral tradition, the focus of the story shifts from Lilliana to her stepmother, Lady Claudia. This shift in the films focus is enticing to a culture that spends uncountable amounts of money on anti-aging cream and plastic surgery, a culture obsessed with youth and physical beauty. In The Stepmother in Fairy Tales: Bereavement and the Feminine Shadow Schectman notes that "extracts of embryonic cells, imagined to have rejuvenating qualities, are sold at great cost to the credulous" (34). The absorption of these embryonic cells as a way to regain youth parallels the cannibalistic consumption of youthful flesh in fairy tales. Even as we watch Lady Claudia consume a stew that she thinks is prepared from the flesh of Lilliana, we realize that Lady Claudia is not simply trying to keep Lilliana from maturing; rather, Lady Claudia wants to recapture and consume the very youth and vitality that Lilliana possesses. Unlike the "mothers, [who] bereaved of their youth, borrow their daughters clothes, hair styles [sic] and music, in the belief, perhaps, that theyve borrowed their bodies, their lungs and livers, their endless adolescent energy," Lady Claudia is not interested in "borrowing" Lillianas

PAGE 27

20 physical accouterments (Schectman 34). Instead, after months or even years of requiring Lilliana to wear Lady Claudias hand-me-down dresses to public balls and gatherings„essentially requiring Lilliana to continually remain in her adolescent years by publicly living within the fit and tuck of Lady Claudias idealized youthful fabric„Lady Claudia desires the destruction of Lilliana in order to completely envelop her endless energy. Removing Lilliana from the Hoffman household is not enough, she must be completely objectified, destroyed, and consumed in order for Lady Claudia to be rejuvenated, in order for Lillianas youthfulness to become manifest within Lady Claudia. In contrast, when we initially meet Lady Claudia, she is an object to be looked upon through the eyes of young Lilliana, who ascribes meaning to her. Even though we initially see Lady Claudia at the same time that the servants of the Hoffman household meet her, we do not immediately glimpse her face. Rather we see Lady Claudia through a series of fragmented close-ups. First, we see her hand in a carriage, then the back of her coiffured hair. We even have a momentary view of her profile, but we do not look upon the face of Lady Claudia until young Lilliana does. Thus, Lady Claudia is not recognized or is not fully accepted by the household until we see her through Lillianas eyes. If Lilliana accepts her, then everyone else will. (Fredrick Hoffmans opinion in this matter is of little bearing.) The test of acceptance occurs when young Lilliana, instead of saying hello to Lady Claudia, says, "Look what I found. It will be a butterfly someday," while opening her hand to reveal a caterpillar. She then asks if she can keep it in a box. Instead of acting slighted when Lilliana does not return her greeting or recoiling from the harmless creature, Lady Claudia kneels down to young Lillianas level, looks at the caterpillar, and asks her what she will do with it when it grows wings. To

PAGE 28

21 which young Lilliana replies, "Ill let her go." As a testament to her present and future goodness, Lilliana is willing to release the caterpillar when it reaches its full potential as a butterfly. Unlike Lady Claudia who holds on to the physical body of her dead child with the same obsessiveness that she holds on to her fleeing youth, Lilliana knows when to let go. Within this moment of acceptance, the power of the gaze is transferred from young Lilliana to Lady Claudia. Within this culture that is fascinated with youth and beauty, the character that is Lilliana becomes a pawn to be admired or gazed upon. According to Laura Mulvey in her article "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," one key element that film or any visual medium cannot escape from is the objectification of the female figure, since the "pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female" (19). In this notion, not only are the male characters within the screen actively objectifying the female form, but all members of the audience are also actively participating through the males eyes. His gaze is our gaze. Thus, the active/male places meaning on the female form, causing her to be a bearer„rather than a maker„of meaning. Yet, Lillianas objectification does not stem solely from a male gaze; rather, even though she initially bears the meaning placed upon her by her father Fredrick Hoffman, the arrival of Lady Claudia marks the beginning of Lilliana as bearer of yearned for youth and beauty. Generally at the entrance of the second queen, all people and prospects outside of the stepdaughter/stepmother dichotomy disappear, thus leaving the two women in a struggle for the absent kings affection. In The Uses of Enchantment Bruno Bettelheim describes the stepmothers inward search as a "narcissism" whereby she is "seeking reassurance about her beauty from the magic mirror" (Bettelheim 203). In "The Queens

PAGE 29

22 Looking Glass," Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar push the boundaries of Bettelheims initial assertion by stating that even though the king is absent, his voice is "the voice in the mirror" ruling the queen with a "patriarchal voice of judgment" (Gilbert and Gubar 202). However, these statements do not aptly describe the mirror or the occurrence of the gaze in Snow White: A Tale of Terror Fredrick Hoffman is not absent from the story, nor is he the patriarchal voice in the mirror since Lady Claudias mirror initially belonged to her mother and the image reflected therein is her own. In the same way that Lady Claudia is unable to identify herself outside of a direct relationship to her mother, Lady Claudia is also unable to identify herself outside of a direct relationship to Lilliana. Without Lilliana as competition, Lady Claudia has nothing on which to base her beauty and self-worth. Even though much critical discourse been written about the gaze as it exists between the wicked stepmother and her mirror, Snow White: A Tale of Terror is one of the few fairy tale films that brings to the forefront this objectification of a woman by a woman as opposed to the objectification of a woman by a man. Even though the film focuses on Lady Claudia, it is Lilliana who finds her voice in the midst of personal and family turmoil. Yet, before she can find herself and recreate herself as a subject rather than an object, Lilliana must leave the civilization of her fathers household by traveling into the woods even though she does not leave on her own accord. Like other females in other fairy tale stories, Lilliana cannot fully discover her true nature until she disconnects herself from her friends, family, and servants„the people who actively gaze at her. Even though Lilliana has been wandering lost through the forest, falling down holes, and mucking up her outward appearance, her fine clothes and proper manners mark her as a member of privileged society. After she stumbles her

PAGE 30

23 way into a crumbling castle for the night, she is discovered by a band of area miners. Her layer of grime stands in stark contrast to the dirt that envelopes the miners daily, underground lives. Within their gaze, she is a "princess" initially deserving no less than to be respectfully mocked; yet, as time progresses, the miners realize that Lilliana is worthy of a respect that is based on more than just outward appearance. Now that she has traveled into the woods, Will, the leader of the miners, brings her identity into question: WILL. I was just wondering what it would take to make a princess smile. LILLIANA. Im not a princess. WILL. What are you then? LILLIANA. Im the daughter of Frederick Hoffman. WILL. Ah, so youre nothing more than a name. LILLIANA. What right do you have to say that? You know nothing about me. When Will states that Lilliana is "nothing more than a name," he points to her lack of agency, self-identity, and depth. Ironically, the male gaze of Will de-objectifies Lilliana by questioning the meaning that she bears. Lilliana may reproach his comment with indignation, but until this moment, she had only thought of herself in terms of her father. Moreover, if this moment had not occurred, then she probably would have married Dr. Peter Gutenberg and thought of herself in terms of him. As opposed to the gaze of Lady Claudia, Wills gaze helps transform Lilliana from an object belonging to her father to a subject belonging to herself.

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24 CHAPTER 4 FIND A VOICE In Zipess "Toward a Theory of Fairy-Tale Film," he divides the space in which oral fairy tales operate from the space in which visual fairy tales operate. Yet, both forms of tale telling require a malleable space in which interchangeable points of view can be utilized. Depending on the make-up of the audience, a storyteller can change the focus of the story to fit the desires and dreams required of the society in which it is told. Thus, if the majority of the audience longs to hear about the recklessness of growing old, then the storyteller can position the focus of the story on the stepmother or the not-yet-dead king. If the majority of the audience is in need of a didactic lesson, then the story might focus on the fortunes and foibles of a young princess or third son. Or, if the majority of the audience craves a bawdy tale, then a simple undressing before crawling into bed can be drawn out in to an innuendo-charged striptease act. The same holds true for the film director whose job is to create a film that not only reestablishes the audiences preconceived expectations about the story, but also explores the multiple voices that are present within the story. If the mixing and variableness of these voices shaped the oral tales production before it was co-opted by the educated and produced as a permanent literary fairy tale, then the mixing of voices should also shape the production of fairy tale films. In Ever After: A Cinderella Story the visual return to oral tradition is quite literal in terms of the setting. In the scene before the films opening credits, two distinguished looking gentlemen step out of a black carriage in front of a large, medieval castle and are

PAGE 32

25 immediately ushered into the presence of a regal, elderly lady who is referred to as "Your Majesty." Even though she does not specifically identify herself or the region her family once ruled, the tapestries, paintings, and servants that surround her are symbols of her royal status. She asks the two men, the Brothers Grimm, if they are wondering why a person of her age would "request an audience with the authors of childrens stories." She goes on to tell them that she finds their collection of folk tales "quite brilliant" but she was "terribly disturbed" when she read their version of the "Little Cinder Girl." At this juncture, the Brothers quickly relate all of the differences in the Cinderella tale that modern scholars still point out, such as the shoe being made of fur instead of glass or that Perraults version, with its magic pumpkins and fairy godmother, is closer to the truth. To the Brothers amazement and delight, Her Majesty "sets the record straight" by telling them the real story of Danielle, the little cinder girl, and producing a "glass" slipper. She even starts her story off in true fairy tale fashion by mimicking a style of introduction that the Brothers made famous: "Once upon a time, there lived a young girl who loved her father very much." Without this royal character to set the record straight, we might assume that the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm and other authors are closer to the truth since they were derived directly from the "folk." Yet, as this film clearly shows, the "true" story is related through a royal figure who is the great, great, great granddaughter of Queen Danielle. Therefore, the social status of a person from whom a tale is derived is not nearly as important as that persons relationship to the people involved in the tale. This film also illuminates the importance of oral tradition by visually providing a narrator who can either respond to the needs of her immediate audience, or fulfill her own needs in relating the "truth" about the tale.

PAGE 33

26 Since Danielles story is filtered through Her Majesty, the audience is no longer receiving a female-centered story from a male voice as in previous literary fairy tales. Even though traditional authors like the Brothers Grimm often collected their initial stories from female informants which would indicate a strong female voice, those collected stories were not written down and published "as is" directly from the female informant. Rather, those collected stories were adapted to fit the needs and ideals of the authors. In Ever After an older female, much like the Sibyl of myth, is relating the story to men from her royal, but darkened cave-like room. This parallel between Her Majesty and the Sibyl should not be overlooked. According to Marina Warner in From the Beast to the Blonde : "the Sibyl, as the figure of a storyteller, bridges divisions in history as well as hierarchies of class. She offers the suggestion that sympathies can cross from different places and languages, different peoples of varied status" (Warner 11). When Her Majesty is speaking to the Brothers, she not only is bridging the gap between a royal occurrence and the "folk" rendition of that occurrence, but she is also drawing the audience into sympathy with the plight of these medieval characters who are part of her ancestry. In her resides a tale that crosses social, class, and gender boundaries since she descends from French royalty, while the Brothers are middle class, literate Germans, and the films audience is presumably a mix of nationalities, ages, and classes. Like the storyteller who is equally at ease when relating tales and local news among peasants as well as among the royal courts, Danielle is also able to move gracefully among all social classes. Since her voice is strong and she is aware of her selfagency, she continually molds and remolds her outer appearance in order to exact a desired outcome. As Ever After progresses, Prince Henrys heart is captured through

PAGE 34

27 Danielles wit and charm. Unlike the numerous other women who are trying to win the prince over, she does not spend her time cooing and fawning over him with cheap smiles and compliments. Instead, she uses her own intelligence coupled with ideas from Moores Utopia to critique Prince Henrys aristocratic philosophy and apathetic attitude. When Danielle is with the Prince, she is masquerading as a countess, but her quick tongue is not in keeping with the usual mannerisms of a countess. Indeed, in actuality Danielle, a servant playing dress-up as a countess, is stepping over two social boundaries. First, a countess should never voice her opinion or disagree with a man, particularly a prince. To do so is to be crude. Second, a servant should never critique any person of upper class standing or even speak to a prince as if they are acquaintances. To do so is not only insubordination, but it is also showing a familiarity that should not be there. Yet, Danielles self-sufficiency is ultimately tested when gypsies capture her and Prince Henry, while they are trying to find their way home from a monastery. Since she and Prince Henry are lost, Danielle removes her outer gown and climbs a tree in order to locate the castle from a better vantagepoint. Even though his gender demands that Prince Henry be the one who climbs a tree in this situation, his social status demands otherwise. More often than not, Princes do not climb trees when they are lost because that is what servants are for. Moreover, Danielle will not let him in case he should fall and "break his royal neck." In this act, Danielle completely disregards the social graces that are required„not of a woman of her servant status, but of a woman who is a countess. Furthermore, even though this scene begins with Danielle in the tree, we can safely infer from this situation that Prince Henry would have spent the entire day wandering around lost and not asking for directions to his own castle since to do so

PAGE 35

28 would imply that he is not completely familiar with the land that he rules and that he is not in control. As soon as Danielle spots the castle, a band of local gypsies surround Prince Henry. The gypsy leader casually picks up Danielles gown with his sword, sarcastically thanks her for the new garment for his wife, and starts to walk away. By this time Danielle is almost to the ground and is not about to let her gown be taken, since it was her mothers. She politely but firmly states, "You will give me back my dress, sir." Not only is she commanding him, but by calling this man of little or no status outside of his band of cohorts "sir," Danielle is also treating him with a respect that is unexpected from a woman of her class. He laughs at and ignores her request. Still not thwarted, Danielle performs another unladylike move by leaping out of the tree onto his back and stealing his sword. Yet another gypsy quickly captures her, but the Prince bravely requests her release since the gypsys quarrel is with him, not her. The familiarity with which the leader of the gypsies and the Prince interact with each other would suggest that they have had this type of run-in in the past. At this point, Danielle demands the use of a horse, since she has been deprived of her escort. Won over by her tenacity, the lead gypsy offers Danielle a bargain. Not only will she not be harmed, but she can also take with her whatever she can carry: DANIELLE. May I have your word on that, sir? GYPSY. On my honor as a gypsy, whatever you can carry. As predicted by her earlier concern with her mothers dress, Danielle starts to walk toward her gown. Her move is predictable since as a woman of standing in outward appearances she should be more interested in herself and her fine clothing than in the

PAGE 36

29 problems of other people. But in mid-stride she changes her initial direction. Instead, she picks the prince up across her back, nods in recognition at the gypsy leader, and slowly walks away. All who are watching, the gypsies and the audience, are surprised by this turn of events. Against all calculations, Danielle saves the prince and herself through her quick wit and strength, at a moment when he is expected to save her. Through the character of Danielle, Ever After not only functions as a modern socializing agent but also as a civilizing agent. The audience sees her transform from a young, dirt-spattered girl, to a woman who is perfectly at ease within a royal court. We have seen this transformation before in familiar tales such as Pygmalion or My Fair Lady She is a reminder to the audience that all one really needs to succeed in life is civility coupled with knowledge, because ones outward appearance and station in life is malleable. Further evidence of how Danielles outward appearance is deceptive is often overlooked when analyzing Cinderella-type tales. What audience members, literary critics, and her stepmother, the Baroness, seem to forget is that Danielle is the daughter of a Baron. Through her fathers position, she has the same right to attend aristocratic functions that her stepsisters have. In fact she technically has even more right because she is the daughter of a Baron by birthright. The Baroness and her two daughters are only aristocracy through marriage to Danielles father. Danielles upward move to royal power is not a classic rags-to-riches story; instead, she is simply regaining her rightful aristocratic position. This unobtrusive but critical bit of information adds to the reinscription of bourgeoisie norms and maintains class boundaries.

PAGE 37

30 CHAPTER 5 LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER And everyone lived happily ever after in their live-action fairy tale world where heroines may or may not push the boundaries of traditional fairy tale gender roles. By utilizing both the literary tales stylized form and oral traditions multiplicity of voices and/or storytellers, fairy tale film is able to create a complex space in which to explore the boundaries of female mobility in a patriarchal society. According to Zipes, when the fairy tale was introduced into a free-market system, it also became a "commodity designed to reinforce patriarchal notions of civilization" ("Towards" 4). The discourse of fairy tales came to include debatable questions on topics such as "proper gender behavior," "the employment of power," and societal "norms and values" ("Towards" 4). Here, Zipes is specifically pointing to the commodification of fairy tales into a literary, marketable format, but his observations are also applicable to visual fairy tales. As a matter of fact, film with its posters, toys, soundtracks, and fast food endorsements might be thriving in todays community simply because it is a packaged good that does "reinforce patriarchal notions of civilization" ("Towards" 4). Also wrapped in a fairy tale films packaging is the expectation that the film version will conform to or struggle against certain fairy tale norms in class structure. For example, if the main character is a young woman, she must swiftly move up the social ladder from a pauper to royalty, always skipping any middle class distinction. Moreover, the rise of a young man is generally across familial boundaries rather than pecuniary boundaries, especially when the third son of a king marries a beautiful princess and inherits the kingdom instead of the

PAGE 38

31 eldest son. As a matter of fact, the middle class is rarely„if ever„portrayed in a fairy tale. A middle class audience is all too familiar with its own social status; therefore, the middle class grants itself the privilege of invisibility, especially since the familiar is not interesting. In contrast, a heroine who is horribly poor and then horribly rich is interesting. Even though she might be living on another continent, she is essentially and completely fulfilling the American rags to riches dream. This instantaneous ascent in class standing is intriguing to a predominately middle class audience that was raised on the virtues of frugality and diligence. We sympathize with those who are in a lower class, while fearing our own fall into poverty. At the same time, royalty status is exotic yet unobtainable since queens and kings exist mainly in fairy tales and England. Unless, of course, a person is a Kennedy or manages to get on that game show Who Wants to be a Princess?Ž Not only is this social order established in oral and literary fairy tales, but it is also seen in fairy tale films. As a form of social entertainment, fairy tale films provide an escape both into and away from social distinctions we fear and admire. As a form of social re-inscription, fairy tale films maintain social boundaries while providing a hope that those boundaries can be traversed. Yet, one might be left wondering whether or not Freeway Snow White: A Tale of Terror and Ever After: A Cinderella Story are a new form of empowerment for the women who watch them or simply a reestablishment of previous gender traditions; since in reworking oral tradition, fairy tale film both reinvents the tropes and conventions of oral narratives and adopts them for a contemporary audience while at the same time keeping in place the archaic fairy tale notions of gender and socioeconomic mobility.

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32 LIST OF REFERENCES Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales New York: Vintage Books, 1977. Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. Ever After: A Cinderella Story Dir. Andy Tennant. Perf. Drew Barrymore, Angelica Houston, and Dougray Scott. Videocassette. Twentieth Century Fox, 1998. Freeway Dir. Matthew Bright. Perf. Keifer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon. Videocassette. Republic Pictures, 1996. Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. The Queens Looking Glass.Ž Dont Bet on the Prince Ed. Jack Zipes. New York: Routledge, 1986. 201-08. Mulvey, Laura. Visual Pleasure and the Narrative Cinema.Ž Visual and Other Pleasures Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. 14-26. Schectman, Jacqueline M. The Stepmother in Fairy Tales: Bereavement and the Feminine Shadow Boston: Sigo Press, 1993. Snow White: A Tale of Terror Dir. Michael Cohn. Perf. Sam Neill and Sigourney Weaver. Videocassette. Polygram Video, 1997. Warner, Marina. From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers London: Chatto & Windus Limited, 1994. Zipes, Jack. A Second Gaze at Red Riding Hoods Trials and Tribulations.Ž Dont Bet on the Prince New York: Routledge, 1987: 227-60. „„„. Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion New York: Wildman Press, Inc., 1983. „„„. Towards a Theory of the Fairy-Tale Film.Ž The Lion and the Unicorn 20.1 (1996):1-24. „„„. When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Traditions. New York:Routledge, 1999.

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33 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Born and raised in Fort Scott, Kansas, Julie A. Sinn moved to Manhattan, Kansas, otherwise known as The Little Apple, to acquire a B.S. in secondary education with a minor in English and journalism. After teaching classes in 8th grade English to junior high students and Sophomore English, Yearbook, American Novels, and Short Stories to high school students in Archie, Missouri, Julie decided to move to Florida in order to pursue her interest in childrens literature. This move also allowed her to flee from freezing cold winds, Prom committee meetings, and junior high dances. As soon as Julie completes her Master of Arts in English, she will send a copy of the degree certificate to her mom, dad, and older sister as proof that she is actually furthering her education while living in the sunny land of oranges, beaches, and palm trees. Once the copies have been sent, Julie will go to dinner at a tasty Asian restaurant and then continue the scholarly journey towards a Ph.D. at the University of Florida.


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Title: I AIN’T NO TRICK BABY OR PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: GENDER BOUNDARIES AND FEMALE MOBILITY IN FREEWAY, SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR, AND EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY
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Copyright Date: 2008

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Title: I AIN’T NO TRICK BABY OR PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: GENDER BOUNDARIES AND FEMALE MOBILITY IN FREEWAY, SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR, AND EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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"I AIN'T NO TRICK BABY" OR PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: GENDER
BOUNDARIES AND FEMALE MOBILITY IN FREEWAY, SNOW WHITE: A TALE
OF TERROR, AND EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY


















By

JULIE A. SINN


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2001




























Copyright 2001

by

Julie A. Sinn



























For the cute red-headed Irish boy who used to smile at me every morning on my way to
class at University College Cork.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First of all, I would like to thank Dr. Kenneth Kidd and Dr. John Cech. Without

their help and guidance, I might still be gyring and gambling in the thesis wabe.

Secondly, I want to thank my mom who made me finish my homework before I could

watch any television, my dad who supported my academic choices, and my sister who

only threatened to beat me up but never actually did. A "thank you" also goes to Todd

Reynolds who has now heard more about fairy tales than he probably ever wanted to

know, to Lisa Hager who had to continually read and reread various sections of my work

instead of watching Buffy reruns, to Jason Matteson who kept me grounded, and to

Janusz Jaworski who nudged my creativity. Finally, a big 50-11 goes to my Fort Scott

friends who are currently scattered all over the world and a big hug goes to all the rest of

my friends and family who have loved and supported me throughout my life.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKNOW LEDGM ENTS ....................... .... ............................ .....................iv

A B ST R A C T ................................... ......... ..... ... .... ........................................ vi

CHAPTERS

1 GO INTO THE W OODS.............................................................. 1

2 STAND UP TO THE WOLF................................... .................. 5

3 AVOID GROW ING OLD ............................................. .. .......... ..................... 15

4 FIND A VOICE ........... ...... ................. ............................... 24

5 LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER ................. ....... ............................... 30

LIST O F REFEREN CES ................................................................ .................... 32

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ....................... ......... ............................ ................... 33















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

"I AIN'T NO TRICK BABY" OR PRINCESS IN DISGUISE: GENDER
BOUNDARIES AND FEMALE MOBILITY IN FREEWAY, SNOW WHITE: A TALE
OF TERROR, AND EVER AFTER: A CINDERELLA STORY

By

Julie A. Sinn

December 2001

Chairperson: Dr. Kenneth Kidd
Major Department: English

The 1990s witnessed a resurgence of the fairy tale in literary and film form as

well as in feminist and cultural criticism. In the thick of these texts and collections that

question the complexities of feminine agency, the following three big budget fairy tale

films emerged: Freeway (1996), Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), and Ever After: A

Cinderella Story (1998). While each of these films has its own distinct narrative and

cinemagraphic style, they all share the common plot element of a female protagonist who

does not fit neatly into the presupposed gender and class definitions that are generally

prevalent in traditional, literary fairy tales from anthologists such as the Brothers Grimm,

Charles Perrault, or Hans Christian Andersen. These three films are a part of the 1990s

deluge of feminist fairy tale production and feminist and/or Marxist criticism that focuses

on re-examining, rebuilding, and/or reclassifying the mobility and gender boundaries of

women in fairy tales. In Freeway, we watch as Vanessa, a lower class girl whose cultural

literacy extends beyond her reading ability, outwits and survives a wolfish Freeway









Killer in bourgeois clothing. Then, in Snow White: A Tale of Terror we watch as the

focus of the film shifts from Lilliana, the Snow White character, to the stepmother's

descent into a mid-life madness where she tries to consume Lilliana's youth and beauty.

Finally, in Ever After: A Cinderella Story, we watch as Danielle transforms from a dirt-

spattered young girl into a clean, boundary crossing young woman whose quick wit and

wisdom saves her servant (and friend) from being exiled to the Americas, her dead

father's land from bankruptcy, and the Crown Prince of France from gypsies as well as

from his own careless self-destruction. Since the female characters within these films are

pushing the boundaries of how a fairy tale heroine may or may not fit traditional gender

roles, not only do the these three postmodern films utilize the stylized form often seen in

traditional literary fairy tales, but they also approximate oral narrative traditions that

include preliterate/innocent characters, a multiplicity of voices and/or storytellers, and a

shift in the main focus of the story-as if these film versions of traditional fairy tales are

giving a bit of a wink and a nudge to oral tradition through each narrative's stylized

opening.














CHAPTER 1
GO INTO THE WOODS

The 1990s witnessed a resurgence of the fairy tale in literary and film form as

well as in feminist and cultural criticism. From 1993 to 2000, editors Ellen Datlow and

Terri Windling published Snow White, Blood Red; Black Thorn, White Rose; Ruby

Slippers, Golden Tears; Silver Birch, Blood Moon; and Black Heart, Ivory Bones, five

anthologies of short stories drawn from authors such as Tanith Lee, Patricia Wrede, and

Jane Yolan who re-examine and re-vision familiar fairy tale tropes. Also in 1993, The

Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter's collection of dark, sensual, and witty feminist fairy

tales, was reissued. Traversing the boundary between academic criticism and pop

culture, works like Clarissa Pinkola Estes's Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and

Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (1992), Jacqueline M. Schectman's The Stepmother

in Fairy Tales: Bereavement and the Feminine Shar, II- (1993), and Marina Warner's

From the Beast to the Blonde (1994) connect contemporary constructions of femininity to

their popular feminine counterparts often found in folklore, legends, myths, and fairy

tales. Moreover, in Kate Bernheimer's Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (1998) women writers

such as Margaret Atwood, bell hooks, and Joyce Carol Oates comment upon and/or

rewrite their favorite childhood fairy tales in order to explore the impact of these tales on

their lives. As if in anticipation of the multiple fairy tale films to come, Jack Zipes

published his essay "Towards a Theory of Fairy Tale Film" in which he promotes the

self-contained genre of fairy tale film while at the same time marking film's place in the

dissemination of the fairy tale meta-narrative. Zipes's promotion of "a theory of the









fairy-tale film as genre" not only links animated, fairy tale films to their oral and literary

predecessors, but also provides the groundwork for connecting oral and literary fairy tales

to contemporary versions of fairy tales created through hypertext media, videogames, and

live-action films ("Towards" 1).

In the thick of these texts and collections that question the complexities of

feminine agency, the following three big budget fairy tale films emerged: Freeway

(1996), Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997), and Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998).

While each of these films has its own distinct narrative and cinemagraphic style, they all

share the common plot element of a female protagonist who does not fit neatly into the

presupposed gender and class definitions that are generally prevalent in traditional,

literary fairy tales from anthologists such as the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, or

Hans Christian Andersen. These three films are a part of the 1990s deluge of feminist

fairy tale production and feminist and/or Marxist criticism that focuses on re-examining,

rebuilding, and/or reclassifying the mobility and gender boundaries of women in fairy

tales. In Freeway, we watch as Vanessa, a lower class girl whose cultural literacy

extends beyond her reading ability, outwits and survives a wolfish Freeway Killer in

bourgeois clothing. Then, in Snow White: A Tale of Terror we watch as the focus of the

film shifts from Lilliana, the Snow White character, to the stepmother's descent into a

mid-life madness where she tries to consume Lilliana's youth and beauty. Finally, in

Ever After: A Cinderella Story, we watch as Danielle transforms from a dirt-spattered

young girl into a clean, boundary crossing young woman whose quick wit and wisdom

saves her servant (and friend) from being exiled to the Americas, her dead father's land

from bankruptcy, and the Crown Prince of France from gypsies as well as from his own









careless self-destruction. Since the female characters within these films are pushing the

boundaries of how a fairy tale heroine may or may not fit traditional gender roles, not

only do the these three postmodern films utilize the stylized form often seen in traditional

literary fairy tales, but they also approximate oral narrative traditions that include

preliterate/innocent characters, a multiplicity of voices and/or storytellers, and a shift in

the main focus of the story-as if these film versions of traditional fairy tales are giving a

bit of a wink and a nudge to oral tradition through each narrative's stylized opening.

In order for film to manipulate the rigid class and gender structures that exist

within fairy tale tradition, it must draw its stories from fairy tales with which the common

person-regardless of social class-is familiar. Even if that person has never read a

book, she or he has certainly had a fairy tale story read to her or him as a child at home or

been introduced to the structure of fairy tales while listening to music, watching

television, or walking down a street. For example, the rock musicians Green Jelly

(formerly Green Jello) have performed "Three Little Pigs," the classic tale of a wolf

verses house-building pigs. Moreover, the Rocky and Bullwinkle SiM'w introduced

television audiences to "Fractured Fairytales" and HBO is currently hosting a fairy tale

cartoon hour that attempts to rewrite traditional fairy tales in a multicultural way. As

Zipes points out, it is almost "natural that there be fairy-tale film since fairy tales are so

much part of our cultural heritage as oral and literary tales" ("Towards" 1). If the basic

fairy tale is coupled with a film format, then that version of the tale is one step closer to

returning to oral tradition rather than a printed text which may or not be considered

progressive by modem standards.









The relatively current influx of the live-action, fairy tale film brings with it a

return to oral traditions where the taletellerr" or film director is "highly regarded within a

community," no matter the community's size or social makeup-where "listeners" or

watchers "could be placed under a spell, as if in awe" ("Towards" 2). Even as Zipes

describes the "awe" that a talented taletellerr" can establish within a community of

listeners, his words are applicable to the fairy tale film tradition in which we, the

audience, identify with the actresses and actors moving about the screen in distant, yet

somehow familiar, settings. They are able to question the boundaries of mobility in

situations that we in the audience might only partake in by watching the film.

Furthermore, Zipes states that "to be in awe is to be in a special place linked with the

teller and other members of the group, transcending reality for a brief moment, to be

transported to extraordinary regions of experience" ("Towards" 2). This statement is not

applicable solely to oral tales. Who would argue, when watching a particularly

wonderful film in a darkened theater, that she or he did not "transcend reality" if only for

a "brief moment" ("Towards" 2)? Moreover, whether watching a film on the big screen

or in the privacy of the home, as soon as a film begins the spectator instantly becomes a

member of the film's communal audience, becomes "linked" to "other members of the

group." Here we see that the importance that Zipes places on the oral transference of a

story easily applies to a visual variant of that story. By creating a communal audience,

film is also creating a space in which to explore current questions of female mobility.














CHAPTER 2
STAND UP TO THE WOLF

Live-action, fairy tale film returns to oral fairy tale tradition in a way that Zipes

does not consider in "Towards a Theory of the Fairy-Tale Film." On the one hand, I

agree with Zipes when he writes that fairy tale films "silenced the personal and

communal voice" of oral tales, especially since he is basing his judgement on the

multitude of animated fairy tale films that Disney has produced as well as other earlier

live-action films whose sole content resided in tricks of the camera ("Towards" 6). Yet,

while these earlier, visual-effects driven films do squelch the variable voice of the oral

narrator, Zipes oversimplifies the multiple voices that are heard within oral tradition-the

mix of storyteller and audience. The dissemination of an oral tale relied not only on the

wandering storyteller, but also on the women who shared the tale while quilting, the men

who retold the tale while farming, and the children who whispered the "naughty" parts of

the tale while playing-all of whom both retold and recreated the tale to fit their own

personal desires or the desires of those around them.

Not only does Zipes oversimplify the oral tale's multiple voices, but he also

overlooks the way in which a film fairy tale diminishes the audience's need for a

traditional reading literacy in the same manner that an oral tales does. The ability to read

is not important when listening to a storyteller, nor is it important when watching a film.

This lack of literacy in oral tradition and fairy tale film is particularly exemplified in the

Little Red Riding Hood characterization of Freeway's Vanessa. The first time the

audience sees Vanessa, she is in school struggling to read the sentence, "The cat drinks









milk." Even though we later find out that she has an amazingly large vocabulary, in

school she is practically illiterate; thus providing evidence that Vanessa is actually

innocent and virtuous like her traditional fairy tale counterpart because she has not

received the full advantage of a school-based education. As the film progresses, we find

that Vanessa is certainly not the good little girl who takes a basket of wine, cheese, and

bread to her grandmother's house in order to feed and comfort her sick grandmother.

Rather, she is a young woman on the run from social services who wants to live with her

grandmother in order to avoid being placed back into foster care. Yet, anyone who is

familiar with any version of the Little Red Riding Hood story-excluding Perrault's

version-expects that this illiterate but street smart girl will triumph in the end.

Although, for that matter, we know that Vanessa will triumph simply because her role as

the heroine implies that she must.

The Freeway Killer, whose real name is Bob Wolverton, is a psychologist at an

all-boys school. Judging by his outward appearance, Bob looks like a decent enough

fellow. His clean cut appearance/persona, respectful mannerisms, and SUV mark him as

someone of affluence who can be trusted. Incidentally, Bob's neighbors would probably

say, "Bob was such a nice, quiet man. We never would have expected him to be a serial

killer." Also, since Bob's job is to listen to people, to be submissive/passive, he initially

portrays the characteristics expected in a fairy tale heroine. However, he uses these

characteristics against women in order to gain their trust before killing them. As his

name suggests, Bob is a generic-a white-skinned, blue-eyed mixture of every wolf from

every fairy tale, every evil that would want to harm a woman. But, what makes him even

more frightful is that he is a well-bred, moneyed member of privileged society, and not









some random, classless nobody. When Vanessa initially shoots him, the news footage

and interviews about the tragedy and horror that struck Bob are indications of Bob's

affluence and social status.

Ultimately, Vanessa's lack of literacy and the lack of education that being nearly

illiterate implies are celebrated when she denounces Bob, the Freeway Killer, for his

hypocritical ways:

VANESSA. You know maybe I ain't smart like you, maybe I haven't

finished school, but at least I ain't a fucking hypocrite.

BOB. Vanessa, please indulge me. Please tell me why I am a hypocrite.

VANESSA. You act like you's all on some sort of mission, but all you

want to do is get off in a sex-type way.

Though she lacks the power of traditional literacy, Vanessa refuses to remain a silent

object who is gazed upon. Even in this short exchange, the difference in education

between Bob and Vanessa is exemplified not only in Bob's lack of contractions, but also

in Vanessa's use of ungrammatical contractions such as "ain't" and "you's." Moreover,

Bob likes to tell himself that he is on a mission to rid the world of unwed mothers, crack

whores, and Lolitas. He essentially tells his young victims that they are blights on

society that must be eradicated, and he is just the man-the educated, well-bred, white

man-to wipe them out. In contrast to Bob, "I ain't smart like you" Vanessa proves that

a traditional education is not necessarily a demarcation of intelligence. She sees through

Bob's outer facade of breeding and into his need to "get off in a sex-type way." This

short exchange between Vanessa and Bob that highlights their educational differences

also indicates the differences in class and the different social norms within those classes.









Since Bob's job is to listen to young people's problems, he spends most of the

afternoon gaining Vanessa's trust and asking her questions about her

childhood-particularly about her stepfather Larry and their sexual relations. Bob claims

he is trying a new, experimental therapy with Vanessa; but when his line of questioning

starts to blame her for her stepfather's inappropriate actions, Vanessa demands her

freedom from the vehicle:

BOB. Vanessa, did you like it when Larry fucked you?

VANESSA. You piece of shit.

BOB. Vanessa, I told you that this can get very, very uncomfortable...

VANESSA. Pull on over, right now!

BOB. We are not finished yet.

VANESSA. Oh, yes we are! We are definitely finished! Now, you pull

on over!

Until this moment, Bob had been extremely professional in his choice of words. Not

once had he used a slang term like fuckk," rather he spoke professionally using words

such as "perform oral sex" or "ejaculation." Even though Vanessa raises her voice with

each sentence she speaks, Bob remains calm since his professional identity as both

psychologist and psycho-killer demands it. Once Vanessa's demands are not met, she

gains control of the situation by taking the keys out of the ignition and throwing them on

the floor, which causes Bob to pull onto the shoulder of the highway. Unfortunately,

Vanessa quickly loses control of this situation when she realizes that Bob has already

removed the door's handle. Hence, they are back to where they first met-on the side of









the freeway-and in this moment Vanessa realizes that clean-cut, married Bob is the

Freeway Killer. In her innocence, she is taken by surprise.

Yet, even before Bob reveals himself as the Freeway Killer, street savvy Vanessa

willingly climbs into a stranger's vehicle, instantly breaking the "never get into a car with

a person you don't know" rule that most children learn at the age of three. Vanessa did

not mean for her car to breakdown, and she certainly did not know Bob before he picked

her up; however, her lack of wariness in this situation might lead an audience to wonder

whether or not Vanessa is asking for trouble. What audiences are probably unaware of

while watching this scene is that Vanessa's lack of fear when meeting the "wolf' parallels

almost every children's book illustration of this scene. According to Zipes's study of the

illustrations of Little Red Riding Hood in Don't Bet on the Prince, "the girl is rarely

afraid of the wolf, despite his large size and animal appearance" ("Second Gaze" 235).

Rather, in the illustrations the girl looks intently into the wolf's eyes, suggesting further

the notion that she is familiar with the wolf and that she is looking forward to his sexual

advances. Zipes points out that the girl in the illustrations appears to want to be raped by

"a male creature" with a "voracious appetite" who desires to "dominate and violate

women" ("Second Gaze" 242). At least that is what the male illustrator wants his viewers

to imagine about the young girl. She is portrayed as the innocent who knows more than

we give her credit for knowing. In this same way, the scenes leading up to Vanessa

meeting Bob initially indicates that Vanessa wants sex-wants to be raped-by Bob or

any other "male creature," but her words and actions disprove this initial connotation. In

order for a girl such as Little Red or Vanessa to remain unfrightened by a monstrous

wolf, she must be innocent of that wolf's intentions. Yet, in her innocence she is blamed:









BOB. Look at you. You're already a master at the manipulation of men.

VANESSA. I didn't run nothing' on you.

BOB. It's so intrinsic to your fucking nature you're not even aware of it

when you do it.

Not only do we blame Little Red for telling a wolfish stranger that she is on her way to

grandmother's house, but we also blame Vanessa for getting into Bob's SUV. If this

blame goes unchecked, then we, too, fall into the same pattern as Bob, who thinks

Vanessa's innocence is a contrived trick to capture men, or the illustrators mentioned

above, who portray Little Red's innocence as a familiarity.

The traditional story elements of "Little Red Riding Hood" dictate that there must

be two seduction scenes: an initial scene that mimics the pictorial representations of Little

Red meeting the Wolf, and a secondary scene when the Wolf dons the Grandmother's

clothing and coaxes Little Red into the house and/or into the bed. Yet, when Vanessa

reaches her grandmother's trailer, she is not easily fooled by Bob's outer grandmother-

like lineaments. Not only does Vanessa not wait for an invitation to enter the house, but

she also is not seduced into taking her clothes off and climbing into bed. Rather than fly

out of the room, her fight reflexes take over as soon as Vanessa sees through Bob's

disguise. Unlike other versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Vanessa will not receive the

kind help of a woodsman nor will she simply flee grandmother's house. (Earlier in the

film, Vanessa's boyfriend and fiance Chopper, whose name indicates that he is a

potential woodsman and savior, was caught and killed in a premeditated drive-by

shooting.) Vanessa clearly dominates within this situation as she brutally beats Bob with

a table lamp and then strangles him until he is undeniably dead. Basically, she destroys









Bob because she knows that if she does not, he will gobble her up and then go on to

murder and rape other female victims. Help, in the form of police protection, does not

arrive until after Bob is dead and Vanessa is covered in blood.

In Vanessa, we see the triumph of cultural literacy over reading literacy, yet even

this is not enough to initially outsmart a bourgeois wolf like Bob. Bob's class standing

ultimately strangles Vanessa's cultural awareness while at the same time forcing Vanessa

into restructuring her cultural views. He knows that he will not go to jail-not when the

courts view Vanessa's previous jail record. In the world according to Bob, people like

him-people with money-can do whatever to whomever they please. His wife is

beautiful, charming, rigidly faithful, and incredibly shallow-an index to Bob's mental

disjunctures. Her faith in her husband does not waiver until his stash of S & M adult and

kiddie porn is recovered from a shed in the back yard. Similar to his wife, his huge,

immaculately clean, and pristinely white house is a showpiece, a mask to conceal his

inward intentions from the outside world. Moreover, since Bob is well respected in his

work and well educated, his particular type of wolfishness stems from upper class. He

imagines that society's laws do not directly apply to him since he is part of the upper

bourgeois who establishes social norms; yet this film, particularly its ending, would

indicate otherwise. Initially, his philosophy may seem false since we were raised to

believe that justice is blind, but the police system is in place simply to keep the working

class in check. Bob is completely aware of these class politics; therefore he feels he has

every right to take matters into his own hands when ridding the world of lowest type of

working class people:

VANESSA. Why're you killing' all them girls, Bob?









BOB. Because I've absolutely reached my fucking limit with people like

you, Vanessa.

VANESSA. What kind of people am I suppose to be?

BOB. Alcoholics, the drug addicts, the fathers who fuck their daughters,

the drug addicted motherfuckin' whores with their bastard fuckin'

offspring.

VANESSA. Hey, I ain't no trick baby.

BOB. Vanessa, I call them garbage people and I assure you, you are one

of them.

In this exchange, not only do we learn the motives behind Bob's murders, but we

also learn about his shortsightedness. He might be able to see the social problems that

exist outside of his own class, but he is not able to see the problems that exist within his

class boundaries. Here, Bob falsely assumes that only working class people, a class in

which he places Vanessa, are alcoholics and drug addicts. Thus he ignores the alcohol,

drugs, incest cases, and "bastard fuckin' offspring" that exist at all social levels. Rather

than see these issues as critical problems that need to be corrected within all of society,

Bob relegates them to a position of class standing.

As soon as Vanessa realizes that her life is in danger, she gains control over Bob

by brandishing the gun she was planning to sell in order to make some money for her trip.

Even though Vanessa does not hold the police in the highest esteem, since they have

taken her mother and stepfather away on numerous occasions, she does think that they

are her only choice in this situation since it is their duty to prosecute those people who

break the law:









VANESSA. I'm gonna turn you in to the fuckin' pigs that's what I'm

gonna do.

BOB. Well, you know what will happen then don't you?

VANESSA. Yeah, you'll end up suckin' gas at San Quentin.

BOB. Vanessa, Vanessa, people like me, we don't go to the gas chamber.

If Bob is convicted of multiple murders, he will, as Vanessa says, "end up suckin' gas at

San Quentin." But, while Bob is afraid of Vanessa's gun and therefore Vanessa, he is not

afraid of the police. He knows that murdering innocents is against the law, but he still

trusts the legal system to keep him out of jail since in his mind he not low-class scum:

VANESSA. Then you'll go the penitentiary where the Mighty Aryan

Brotherhood will make you wish you'd never been born.

BOB. Vanessa the likelihood of someone like me going to prison is

absolutely nil.

VANESSA. You think they're just gonna just let you walk?

BOB. They won't take me for a killer. They'll let me go free. They'll

send you to some new foster home.

Once again, Bob knows that in the courts it will be his word against hers. He also knows

that his class status and clean personal record gives him the upper hand over Vanessa's

criminal past. Since he does not have the markings of a criminal, let alone the markings a

killer who rapes his dead victims, he knows that he will walk out of the courtroom a free

man. This possible truth ultimately leads Vanessa to liquidate Bob. Thus, she initially

shoots Bob several times in the back the first time that she uncovers his secret life, and

then she finally succeeds when she strangles him to death in her grandmother's






14


trailer-the classic space of "white trash." Vanessa would rather live with the

consequences of murdering a psycho-killer masquerading as high class, than live with the

knowledge that Bob could and would kill other innocent women.














CHAPTER 3
AVOID GROWING OLD

Even as the fairy tale film pushes against the edges of social boundaries, it also

conforms to certain preconceived gender roles established specifically for women in fairy

tales. Not only must a heroine keep her voice in check while at the same time finding it,

she must also wait for her prince to come and save her from a life of toil and drudgery.

Witnessing the growth and formation of a young girl within a fairy tale is fairly common,

and, as expected, the girl will prick her finger, run away, or be locked up as soon as

puberty starts. In the literary fairy tales of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, the good girl

remained silent while passively waiting in a tree to be rescued or comfortably sleeping

for thousands of years. In contrast, the wicked girl did not pause for breath and had

nothing nice to say. Even in the Disney feature-length version of Snow White and the

Seven Dwarfs, Snow White is remembered for her songs, not for what she says. Her

voice is only for providing the audience and the dwarves with pleasure in the same way

that a pet bird's singing provides pleasure for its owner. The opposite of the voiceless

heroine is found in Vanessa, Lilliana, and Danielle -two of whom utilize their ability to

speak boldly from childhood on and one of whom discovers her voice along the way to

adulthood. In these cases, finding a voice of one's own is an extension of finding one's

self. When a fairy tale film deviates from these norms, it also deviates from the social

expectation that fairy tales are strictly meant to provide didactic lessons for children.

Since the production of live-action fairy tale films has made room for the exploration of









topics deemed by the consuming society as not suitable for young children, it perpetuates

and rewrites oral tradition by struggling with society's class and gender expectations.

Snow White: A Tale of Terror returns to oral tradition through the film's shift in

focus from a young girl to a seemingly innocuous stepmother who refuses to age

gracefully. In the same way that a storyteller is able to change the focus of the story in

response to audience expectations, film is also able to change the focus of the story in

order to draw in its desired audience. Few adults would be willing to pay money to see a

film titled something like "Snow White: A Tale of Feelings, Family, and Female

Bonding." Unless they mistake "bonding" for "bondage," then a slew of people might

show up. Even though the title of the film-Snow White: A Tale of Terror-upholds the

traditional importance of the role of Snow White, little is known of the actress who plays

Lilliana, the Snow White character. Her name is not even mentioned in the blurb on the

back of the video's jacket. Instead, the film's star is Sigourney Weaver, and thus the

film's focus is on Weaver's portrayal of the wicked stepmother, Lady Claudia. Within

the same blurb that ignores Lilliana, we read that "the real tale of Snow White, starring

Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill, is a tale of relentless terror and unimaginable horror."

Here we see that the real tale of Snow White is not at all about a young girl's struggle to

come of age while her stepmother literally talks to a mirror, but rather it is about horrors

that we cannot even imagine. Horrors that spawn from Lady Claudia's refusal to accept

the inevitability of aging and lead Lilliana to young-adult independence. Horrors that

exacerbate the image of the hysterical, menopausal woman struggling to retain her youth

and beauty. All the while, Lady Claudia is talking to a magical mirror that remains

hidden within a standing wooden wardrobe behind two doors that are shaped to resemble









the body of a woman in long robes. Her clasped hands hold a lily, the namesake of

Lilliana -also the symbol of resurrection, rebirth, and the Virgin Mary. A

transformation of character and a magic mirror sufficiently fulfills an audience's fairy

tale expectations of a wicked stepmother, but this film pushes the importance of these

characteristics by shifting the focus of the story from Lilliana to Lady Claudia. Thus, a

film's director, like a talented storyteller, can anticipate what an audience will respond to

and tweak the story accordingly.

The "tale of terror" begins in a snow-covered forest full of folkloric symbols of

evil and/or death-dead trees, voracious wolves, and a squawking crow. Not only has

the snow caused dead tree limbs to fall across the only navigable path through the forest,

but the hungry wolves and the black crow are also focusing their attention on the path.

As the credits begin, the carriage containing Lilliana's pregnant mother and solicitous

father, Lady Lilliana and Lord Fredrick Hoffman, tumbles down a snow-covered

embankment after the horses pulling the carriage towards home are spooked by a pack of

hungry wolves with glowing eyes. The coachman and the horses instantly fall prey to the

desires of the carnivorous wolves, while Lady Lilliana and Fredrick appear to be

unharmed by the carriage's roll down the hill, until Lady Lilliana says that she cannot

breath. Fredrick pulls back Lady Lilliana's cloak to reveal a large chunk of wood

piercing her chest. Since she knows she is going to die, she hands Fredrick a sharp, dark

knife and demands that Fredrick "must save the baby" because "she is coming." In the

same way that Lady Lilliana's blood is initially shed when she accidentally pricks her

finger while stitching a wintercap and wishing for a little girl, Lady Lilliana's blood is

shed again in the midst of winter at the birth of her baby girl. Even though we do not see









Fredrick slice open the uterus of his wife, we do witness the rush of deep red blood

flowing across the cold, white snow. Over this image is the title of the film, Snow White:

A Tale of Terror, and the faint sound of a baby crying. Thus, amongst the portents of

death and blood, baby Lilliana is born and the opening credits continue.

However, this dark setting changes to a pleasantly bright look at Lilliana as a

young child. When we first witness young Lilliana, she is trying to hide her giggles in

her hands while crouching down behind a statue of a praying angel, because Lilliana's

nanny, Nano, is looking for her. Even though Lilliana is hiding in a cemetery, she is

crouched behind her mother's headstone and appears to be in no danger. The fall day is

sunshiny bright and a light breeze rustles the leaves in the trees. Once Nano finds

Lilliana and they are walking back towards the castle, Lilliana asks Nano to "tell [her] the

story." This is when we learn from Nano that "one day, not so long ago" Lady Lilliana

pricked her finger while stitching a wintercap and wishing for a girl. Even though Nano

begins her retelling of the tale with a traditional storyteller-like opening that parallels the

version of "Snow White" published by the Brothers Grimm, the Queen does not specify

the gender of the child in the Grimm version like she supposedly did in this version.

When Nano teasingly changes the gender of the wished for child from a girl to a boy,

Lilliana laughs and corrects her. Obviously, Lilliana knows this tale of her birth by heart

since she then finishes telling the story herself: "a little girl with hair as black as the

ebony window frame and skin as pale as the snow and lips as red as blood." As outside

viewers, we cannot know if the Queen actually wished for a little girl or if the various

adults who have passed the story down to Lilliana added that small bit of information in

order to comfort a motherless girl-child. Moreover, we do not hear the rest of the story as









the two of them continue to walk towards the castle because the tale of terror is not yet

over. For the audience, this tranquil moment is only an interlude in the expected horror

that is to come. Thus through the course of the opening credits the archetype of the

storyteller in oral tradition is evoked twice. The first time is in the very title of the film;

through the use of the word "tale" in "A Tale of Terror," we know that we are about to be

told a story. The second time is in the oral tradition of passing a story down from an

older generation to a younger one, creating a narrative within the narrative of the film that

can shift according to the whims of the storyteller or the listener. In order for this story to

further approximate these forms of oral tradition, the focus of the story shifts from

Lilliana to her stepmother, Lady Claudia.

This shift in the film's focus is enticing to a culture that spends uncountable

amounts of money on anti-aging cream and plastic surgery, a culture obsessed with youth

and physical beauty. In The Stepmother in Fairy Tales: Bereavement and the Feminine

Slihahl/, Schectman notes that "extracts of embryonic cells, imagined to have

rejuvenating qualities, are sold at great cost to the credulous" (34). The absorption of

these embryonic cells as a way to regain youth parallels the cannibalistic consumption of

youthful flesh in fairy tales. Even as we watch Lady Claudia consume a stew that she

thinks is prepared from the flesh of Lilliana, we realize that Lady Claudia is not simply

trying to keep Lilliana from maturing; rather, Lady Claudia wants to recapture and

consume the very youth and vitality that Lilliana possesses. Unlike the "mothers, [who]

bereaved of their youth, borrow their daughters' clothes, hair styles [sic] and music, in

the belief, perhaps, that they've borrowed their bodies, their lungs and livers, their

endless adolescent energy," Lady Claudia is not interested in "borrowing" Lilliana's









physical accouterments (Schectman 34). Instead, after months or even years of requiring

Lilliana to wear Lady Claudia's hand-me-down dresses to public balls and

gatherings-essentially requiring Lilliana to continually remain in her adolescent years

by publicly living within the fit and tuck of Lady Claudia's idealized youthful

fabric-Lady Claudia desires the destruction of Lilliana in order to completely envelop

her endless energy. Removing Lilliana from the Hoffman household is not enough, she

must be completely objectified, destroyed, and consumed in order for Lady Claudia to be

rejuvenated, in order for Lilliana's youthfulness to become manifest within Lady Claudia.

In contrast, when we initially meet Lady Claudia, she is an object to be looked

upon through the eyes of young Lilliana, who ascribes meaning to her. Even though we

initially see Lady Claudia at the same time that the servants of the Hoffman household

meet her, we do not immediately glimpse her face. Rather we see Lady Claudia through

a series of fragmented close-ups. First, we see her hand in a carriage, then the back of

her coiffured hair. We even have a momentary view of her profile, but we do not look

upon the face of Lady Claudia until young Lilliana does. Thus, Lady Claudia is not

recognized or is not fully accepted by the household until we see her through Lilliana's

eyes. If Lilliana accepts her, then everyone else will. (Fredrick Hoffman's opinion in

this matter is of little bearing.) The test of acceptance occurs when young Lilliana,

instead of saying hello to Lady Claudia, says, "Look what I found. It will be a butterfly

someday," while opening her hand to reveal a caterpillar. She then asks if she can keep it

in a box. Instead of acting slighted when Lilliana does not return her greeting or

recoiling from the harmless creature, Lady Claudia kneels down to young Lilliana's level,

looks at the caterpillar, and asks her what she will do with it when it grows wings. To









which young Lilliana replies, "I'll let her go." As a testament to her present and future

goodness, Lilliana is willing to release the caterpillar when it reaches its full potential as a

butterfly. Unlike Lady Claudia who holds on to the physical body of her dead child with

the same obsessiveness that she holds on to her fleeing youth, Lilliana knows when to let

go. Within this moment of acceptance, the power of the gaze is transferred from young

Lilliana to Lady Claudia.

Within this culture that is fascinated with youth and beauty, the character that is

Lilliana becomes a pawn to be admired or gazed upon. According to Laura Mulvey in

her article "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," one key element that film or any

visual medium cannot escape from is the objectification of the female figure, since the

"pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female" (19). In this

notion, not only are the male characters within the screen actively objectifying the female

form, but all members of the audience are also actively participating through the male's

eyes. His gaze is our gaze. Thus, the active/male places meaning on the female form,

causing her to be a bearer-rather than a maker-of meaning. Yet, Lilliana's

objectification does not stem solely from a male gaze; rather, even though she initially

bears the meaning placed upon her by her father Fredrick Hoffman, the arrival of Lady

Claudia marks the beginning of Lilliana as bearer of yearned for youth and beauty.

Generally at the entrance of the second queen, all people and prospects outside of

the stepdaughter/stepmother dichotomy disappear, thus leaving the two women in a

struggle for the absent king's affection. In The Uses of Enchantment, Bruno Bettelheim

describes the stepmother's inward search as a "narcissism" whereby she is "seeking

reassurance about her beauty from the magic mirror" (Bettelheim 203). In "The Queen's









Looking Glass," Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar push the boundaries of Bettelheim's

initial assertion by stating that even though the king is absent, his voice is "the voice in

the mirror" ruling the queen with a "patriarchal voice of judgment" (Gilbert and Gubar

202). However, these statements do not aptly describe the mirror or the occurrence of the

gaze in Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Fredrick Hoffman is not absent from the story,

nor is he the patriarchal voice in the mirror since Lady' Claudia's mirror initially

belonged to her mother and the image reflected therein is her own. In the same way that

Lady Claudia is unable to identify herself outside of a direct relationship to her mother,

Lady Claudia is also unable to identify herself outside of a direct relationship to Lilliana.

Without Lilliana as competition, Lady Claudia has nothing on which to base her beauty

and self-worth. Even though much critical discourse been written about the gaze as it

exists between the wicked stepmother and her mirror, Snow White: A Tale of Terror is

one of the few fairy tale films that brings to the forefront this objectification of a woman

by a woman as opposed to the objectification of a woman by a man.

Even though the film focuses on Lady Claudia, it is Lilliana who finds her voice

in the midst of personal and family turmoil. Yet, before she can find herself and recreate

herself as a subject rather than an object, Lilliana must leave the civilization of her

father's household by traveling into the woods even though she does not leave on her

own accord. Like other females in other fairy tale stories, Lilliana cannot fully discover

her true nature until she disconnects herself from her friends, family, and servants-the

people who actively gaze at her. Even though Lilliana has been wandering lost through

the forest, falling down holes, and mucking up her outward appearance, her fine clothes

and proper manners mark her as a member of privileged society. After she stumbles her









way into a crumbling castle for the night, she is discovered by a band of area miners. Her

layer of grime stands in stark contrast to the dirt that envelopes the miner's daily,

underground lives. Within their gaze, she is a "princess" initially deserving no less than

to be respectfully mocked; yet, as time progresses, the miners realize that Lilliana is

worthy of a respect that is based on more than just outward appearance. Now that she has

traveled into the woods, Will, the leader of the miners, brings her identity into question:

WILL. I was just wondering what it would take to make a princess smile.

LILLIANA. I'm not a princess.

WILL. What are you then?

LILLIANA. I'm the daughter of Frederick Hoffman.

WILL. Ah, so you're nothing more than a name.

LILLIANA. What right do you have to say that? You know nothing about

me.

When Will states that Lilliana is "nothing more than a name," he points to her lack of

agency, self-identity, and depth. Ironically, the male gaze of Will de-objectifies Lilliana

by questioning the meaning that she bears. Lilliana may reproach his comment with

indignation, but until this moment, she had only thought of herself in terms of her father.

Moreover, if this moment had not occurred, then she probably would have married Dr.

Peter Gutenberg and thought of herself in terms of him. As opposed to the gaze of Lady

Claudia, Will's gaze helps transform Lilliana from an object belonging to her father to a

subject belonging to herself.














CHAPTER 4
FIND A VOICE

In Zipes's "Toward a Theory of Fairy-Tale Film," he divides the space in which

oral fairy tales operate from the space in which visual fairy tales operate. Yet, both forms

of tale telling require a malleable space in which interchangeable points of view can be

utilized. Depending on the make-up of the audience, a storyteller can change the focus of

the story to fit the desires and dreams required of the society in which it is told. Thus, if

the majority of the audience longs to hear about the recklessness of growing old, then the

storyteller can position the focus of the story on the stepmother or the not-yet-dead king.

If the majority of the audience is in need of a didactic lesson, then the story might focus

on the fortunes and foibles of a young princess or third son. Or, if the majority of the

audience craves a bawdy tale, then a simple undressing before crawling into bed can be

drawn out in to an innuendo-charged striptease act. The same holds true for the film

director whose job is to create a film that not only reestablishes the audience's

preconceived expectations about the story, but also explores the multiple voices that are

present within the story. If the mixing and variableness of these voices shaped the oral

tale's production before it was co-opted by the educated and produced as a permanent

literary fairy tale, then the mixing of voices should also shape the production of fairy tale

films.

In Ever After: A Cinderella Story, the visual return to oral tradition is quite literal

in terms of the setting. In the scene before the film's opening credits, two distinguished

looking gentlemen step out of a black carriage in front of a large, medieval castle and are









immediately ushered into the presence of a regal, elderly lady who is referred to as "Your

Majesty." Even though she does not specifically identify herself or the region her family

once ruled, the tapestries, paintings, and servants that surround her are symbols of her

royal status. She asks the two men, the Brothers Grimm, if they are wondering why a

person of her age would "request an audience with the authors of children's stories." She

goes on to tell them that she finds their collection of folk tales "quite brilliant" but she

was "terribly disturbed" when she read their version of the "Little Cinder Girl." At this

juncture, the Brothers quickly relate all of the differences in the Cinderella tale that

modern scholars still point out, such as the shoe being made of fur instead of glass or that

Perrault's version, with its magic pumpkins and fairy godmother, is closer to the truth.

To the Brothers' amazement and delight, Her Majesty "sets the record straight" by telling

them the real story of Danielle, the little cinder girl, and producing a "glass" slipper. She

even starts her story off in true fairy tale fashion by mimicking a style of introduction that

the Brothers made famous: "Once upon a time, there lived a young girl who loved her

father very much." Without this royal character to set the record straight, we might

assume that the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm and other authors are closer to the

truth since they were derived directly from the "folk." Yet, as this film clearly shows, the

"true" story is related through a royal figure who is the great, great, great granddaughter

of Queen Danielle. Therefore, the social status of a person from whom a tale is derived is

not nearly as important as that person's relationship to the people involved in the tale.

This film also illuminates the importance of oral tradition by visually providing a narrator

who can either respond to the needs of her immediate audience, or fulfill her own needs

in relating the "truth" about the tale.









Since Danielle's story is filtered through Her Majesty, the audience is no longer

receiving a female-centered story from a male voice as in previous literary fairy tales.

Even though traditional authors like the Brothers Grimm often collected their initial

stories from female informants which would indicate a strong female voice, those

collected stories were not written down and published "as is" directly from the female

informant. Rather, those collected stories were adapted to fit the needs and ideals of the

authors. In Ever After an older female, much like the Sibyl of myth, is relating the story

to men from her royal, but darkened cave-like room. This parallel between Her Majesty

and the Sibyl should not be overlooked. According to Marina Warner in From the Beast

to the Blonde: "the Sibyl, as the figure of a storyteller, bridges divisions in history as well

as hierarchies of class. She offers the suggestion that sympathies can cross from different

places and languages, different peoples of varied status" (Warner 11). When Her Majesty

is speaking to the Brothers, she not only is bridging the gap between a royal occurrence

and the "folk" rendition of that occurrence, but she is also drawing the audience into

sympathy with the plight of these medieval characters who are part of her ancestry. In

her resides a tale that crosses social, class, and gender boundaries since she descends

from French royalty, while the Brothers are middle class, literate Germans, and the

film's audience is presumably a mix of nationalities, ages, and classes.

Like the storyteller who is equally at ease when relating tales and local news

among peasants as well as among the royal courts, Danielle is also able to move

gracefully among all social classes. Since her voice is strong and she is aware of her self-

agency, she continually molds and remolds her outer appearance in order to exact a

desired outcome. As Ever After progresses, Prince Henry's heart is captured through









Danielle's wit and charm. Unlike the numerous other women who are trying to win the

prince over, she does not spend her time cooing and fawning over him with cheap smiles

and compliments. Instead, she uses her own intelligence coupled with ideas from

Moore's Utopia to critique Prince Henry's aristocratic philosophy and apathetic attitude.

When Danielle is with the Prince, she is masquerading as a countess, but her

quick tongue is not in keeping with the usual mannerisms of a countess. Indeed, in

actuality Danielle, a servant playing dress-up as a countess, is stepping over two social

boundaries. First, a countess should never voice her opinion or disagree with a man,

particularly a prince. To do so is to be crude. Second, a servant should never critique

any person of upper class standing or even speak to a prince as if they are acquaintances.

To do so is not only insubordination, but it is also showing a familiarity that should not

be there. Yet, Danielle's self-sufficiency is ultimately tested when gypsies capture her

and Prince Henry, while they are trying to find their way home from a monastery. Since

she and Prince Henry are lost, Danielle removes her outer gown and climbs a tree in

order to locate the castle from a better vantagepoint. Even though his gender demands

that Prince Henry be the one who climbs a tree in this situation, his social status demands

otherwise. More often than not, Princes do not climb trees when they are lost because

that is what servants are for. Moreover, Danielle will not let him in case he should fall

and "break his royal neck." In this act, Danielle completely disregards the social graces

that are required-not of a woman of her servant status, but of a woman who is a

countess. Furthermore, even though this scene begins with Danielle in the tree, we can

safely infer from this situation that Prince Henry would have spent the entire day

wandering around lost and not asking for directions to his own castle since to do so









would imply that he is not completely familiar with the land that he rules and that he is

not in control.

As soon as Danielle spots the castle, a band of local gypsies surround Prince

Henry. The gypsy leader casually picks up Danielle's gown with his sword, sarcastically

thanks her for the new garment for his wife, and starts to walk away. By this time

Danielle is almost to the ground and is not about to let her gown be taken, since it was her

mother's. She politely but firmly states, "You will give me back my dress, sir." Not only

is she commanding him, but by calling this man of little or no status outside of his band

of cohorts "sir," Danielle is also treating him with a respect that is unexpected from a

woman of her class. He laughs at and ignores her request. Still not thwarted, Danielle

performs another unladylike move by leaping out of the tree onto his back and stealing

his sword. Yet another gypsy quickly captures her, but the Prince bravely requests her

release since the gypsy's quarrel is with him, not her. The familiarity with which the

leader of the gypsies and the Prince interact with each other would suggest that they have

had this type of run-in in the past. At this point, Danielle demands the use of a horse,

since she has been deprived of her escort. Won over by her tenacity, the lead gypsy

offers Danielle a bargain. Not only will she not be harmed, but she can also take with her

whatever she can carry:

DANIELLE. May I have your word on that, sir?

GYPSY. On my honor as a gypsy, whatever you can carry.

As predicted by her earlier concern with her mother's dress, Danielle starts to

walk toward her gown. Her move is predictable since as a woman of standing in outward

appearances she should be more interested in herself and her fine clothing than in the









problems of other people. But in mid-stride she changes her initial direction. Instead,

she picks the prince up across her back, nods in recognition at the gypsy leader, and

slowly walks away. All who are watching, the gypsies and the audience, are surprised by

this turn of events. Against all calculations, Danielle saves the prince and herself through

her quick wit and strength, at a moment when he is expected to save her.

Through the character of Danielle, Ever After not only functions as a modern

socializing agent but also as a civilizing agent. The audience sees her transform from a

young, dirt-spattered girl, to a woman who is perfectly at ease within a royal court. We

have seen this transformation before in familiar tales such as Pygmalion or My Fair Lady.

She is a reminder to the audience that all one really needs to succeed in life is civility

coupled with knowledge, because one's outward appearance and station in life is

malleable. Further evidence of how Danielle's outward appearance is deceptive is often

overlooked when analyzing Cinderella-type tales. What audience members, literary

critics, and her stepmother, the Baroness, seem to forget is that Danielle is the daughter of

a Baron. Through her father's position, she has the same right to attend aristocratic

functions that her stepsisters have. In fact she technically has even more right because

she is the daughter of a Baron by birthright. The Baroness and her two daughters are

only aristocracy through marriage to Danielle's father. Danielle's upward move to royal

power is not a classic rags-to-riches story; instead, she is simply regaining her rightful

aristocratic position. This unobtrusive but critical bit of information adds to the re-

inscription of bourgeoisie norms and maintains class boundaries.














CHAPTER 5
LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER

And everyone lived happily ever after in their live-action fairy tale world where

heroines may or may not push the boundaries of traditional fairy tale gender roles. By

utilizing both the literary tale's stylized form and oral tradition's multiplicity of voices

and/or storytellers, fairy tale film is able to create a complex space in which to explore

the boundaries of female mobility in a patriarchal society. According to Zipes, when the

fairy tale was introduced into a free-market system, it also became a "commodity

designed to reinforce patriarchal notions of civilization" ("Towards" 4). The discourse of

fairy tales came to include debatable questions on topics such as "proper gender

behavior," "the employment of power," and societal "norms and values" ("Towards" 4).

Here, Zipes is specifically pointing to the commodification of fairy tales into a literary,

marketable format, but his observations are also applicable to visual fairy tales. As a

matter of fact, film with its posters, toys, soundtracks, and fast food endorsements might

be thriving in today's community simply because it is a packaged good that does

"reinforce patriarchal notions of civilization" ("Towards" 4). Also wrapped in a fairy tale

film's packaging is the expectation that the film version will conform to or struggle

against certain fairy tale norms in class structure. For example, if the main character is a

young woman, she must swiftly move up the social ladder from a pauper to royalty,

always skipping any middle class distinction. Moreover, the rise of a young man is

generally across familial boundaries rather than pecuniary boundaries, especially when

the third son of a king marries a beautiful princess and inherits the kingdom instead of the









eldest son. As a matter of fact, the middle class is rarely-if ever-portrayed in a fairy

tale. A middle class audience is all too familiar with its own social status; therefore, the

middle class grants itself the privilege of invisibility, especially since the familiar is not

interesting. In contrast, a heroine who is horribly poor and then horribly rich is

interesting. Even though she might be living on another continent, she is essentially and

completely fulfilling the American rags to riches dream.

This instantaneous ascent in class standing is intriguing to a predominately middle

class audience that was raised on the virtues of frugality and diligence. We sympathize

with those who are in a lower class, while fearing our own fall into poverty. At the same

time, royalty status is exotic yet unobtainable since queens and kings exist mainly in fairy

tales and England. Unless, of course, a person is a Kennedy or manages to get on that

game show "Who Wants to be a Princess?" Not only is this social order established in

oral and literary fairy tales, but it is also seen in fairy tale films. As a form of social

entertainment, fairy tale films provide an escape both into and away from social

distinctions we fear and admire. As a form of social re-inscription, fairy tale films

maintain social boundaries while providing a hope that those boundaries can be traversed.

Yet, one might be left wondering whether or not Freeway, Snow White: A Tale of Terror,

and Ever After: A Cinderella Story are a new form of empowerment for the women who

watch them or simply a reestablishment of previous gender traditions; since in reworking

oral tradition, fairy tale film both reinvents the tropes and conventions of oral narratives

and adopts them for a contemporary audience while at the same time keeping in place the

archaic fairy tale notions of gender and socioeconomic mobility.
















LIST OF REFERENCES

Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses ofEnchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy
Tales. New York: Vintage Books, 1977.

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild
Woman Archetype. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

Ever After: A Cinderella Story. Dir. Andy Tennant. Perf. Drew Barrymore, Angelica
Houston, and Dougray Scott. Videocassette. Twentieth Century Fox, 1998.

Freeway. Dir. Matthew Bright. Perf. Keifer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon.
Videocassette. Republic Pictures, 1996.

Gilbert, Sandra M., and Susan Gubar. "The Queen's Looking Glass." Don't Bet on the
Prince. Ed. Jack Zipes. New York: Routledge, 1986. 201-08.

Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure and the Narrative Cinema." Visual and Other
Pleasures. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. 14-26.

Schectman, Jacqueline M. The Stepmother in Fairy Tales: Bereavement and the
Feminine Sihal,,\. Boston: Sigo Press, 1993.

Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Dir. Michael Cohn. Perf. Sam Neill and Sigourney
Weaver. Videocassette. Polygram Video, 1997.

Warner, Marina. From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers.
London: Chatto & Windus Limited, 1994.

Zipes, Jack. "A Second Gaze at Red Riding Hood's Trials and Tribulations." Don't Bet
on the Prince. New York: Routledge, 1987: 227-60.

- Fairy Tales and the Art ofSubversion. New York: Wildman Press, Inc., 1983.

S"Towards a Theory of the Fairy-Tale Film." The Lion and the Unicorn 20.1
(1996):1-24.

-- When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Traditions. New
York: Routledge, 1999.















BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Born and raised in Fort Scott, Kansas, Julie A. Sinn moved to Manhattan, Kansas,

otherwise known as The Little Apple, to acquire a B.S. in secondary education with a

minor in English and journalism. After teaching classes in 8th grade English to junior

high students and Sophomore English, Yearbook, American Novels, and Short Stories to

high school students in Archie, Missouri, Julie decided to move to Florida in order to

pursue her interest in children's literature. This move also allowed her to flee from

freezing cold winds, Prom committee meetings, and junior high dances.

As soon as Julie completes her Master of Arts in English, she will send a copy of

the degree certificate to her mom, dad, and older sister as proof that she is actually

furthering her education while living in the sunny land of oranges, beaches, and palm

trees. Once the copies have been sent, Julie will go to dinner at a tasty Asian restaurant

and then continue the scholarly journey towards a Ph.D. at the University of Florida.