The classic retelling of fairytales are the essence of the Disney we all know and love – most of our favourite Walt Disney movies that are loved and watched around the world come from popular folklore and traditional tales told by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson. Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Pinocchio are all early examples of this, and more modern fairytale classics include Tangled (based on Rapunzel) and Frozen (based around The Snow Queen).
But the first animated feature film in this tradition created by the Walt Disney company, and overseen by Walt himself, was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It premiered in 1937 and introduced us to our first Disney Princess. As with many of the Disney features based around fairytales, Snow White has a darker undertone running throughout (and I was personally terrified of the Magic Mirror when I was younger!). Nevertheless, it is a well loved classic and is still celebrated today – guests at the Disney parks still queue to meet Snow White or her dwarfs, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is one of the latest attractions to open in Magic Kingdom, shortly after my last visit in fact!
And now finally we get to meet Snow White’s sister of folklore: Rose Red!
The Disney story of Snow White is inspired by a Brothers Grimm fairytale published in 1812. In 1815, they published a second volume of fairytales, this one including the story of “Snow White and Rose Red”. In fact, it’s not the same Snow White in this tale at all! You can read the full Grimm tale here, but here’s a quick version:
Snow White and Rose Red are sisters, named after the two rose trees that bloom outside their mother’s window. Being lovely girls, they allow a benevolent bear into their home during a cold winter night until spring came. He leaves when spring arrives, but soon after the girls meet a cranky dwarf (again, no relation to the first tale!), then along comes the bear and kills him. Initially the girls don’t realise it’s the same bear, then when they do, they are no longer afraid. Beauty and the Beast style, he sheds his fur and reveals his true self to be a dashing prince in disguise who had been cursed by the evil dwarf. Snow White and the prince are married, and Rose Red is married to his brother. The End.
The new Disney version of Rose Red’s tale however in fact merges the two stories together in a live action movie that takes place in the intervening time between Snow White biting into the poisonous apple and being awakened by her prince. Rose Red enters the story along with our favourite dwarf, Grumpy, to try to save her sister.
We don’t yet have a release date for Rose Red, but we’re looking forward to hearing more about it!