It might just surprise you to learn that there are some pretty dark facts about your favourite Disney movies. From the dark origins of some of our most beloved tales to disturbing imagery in our favourite cartoons - there are a few interesting and sinister little secrets behind some of the most celebrated children's films ever made.
Dark Origins: The Truth Behind Popular Disney Movies
Aside from the odd parental casualty (Mufasa, we still miss you), it's pretty safe to say that most Disney films are, on the whole, upbeat and positive. And they almost always conclude with a satisfying, if not blatantly happy ending.
It's also no secret that a lot of Disney films are adaptations of existing stories and fairy tales - or they often at least draw inspiration from existing stories and fables.
Disney, quite obviously, didn't write Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or any of the other fairy tales they have turned into animated retellings. But while the adaptations of such stories take a lot of inspiration from their originals, there are actually plenty of dark details that Disney chose not to include - and with good reason!
While we might remember Disney's Cinderella for it's jaunty tunes, friendly fairy god mother and lovable talking mice - what Disney failed to include in their adaptation is the gory details about the fitting of the glass slipper.
When prince charming comes to Cinderella's house in search of the foot that will fit the glass slipper - Cinderella's ugly sisters actually cut off their toes in a savage attempt to make the slipper fit. Pretty gruesome I think you'll agree. But it doesn't stop there - in the original story, Cinderella's step-sisters attend her wedding (obviously hoping to find their way back into her good graces, after submitting her to years of slavery). Here, they are promptly attacked by crows and have their eyes pecked out.
I actually prefer this ending; I have to say.
The Fox and The Hound
On the face of it, the Disney movie adaptation of the 1967 novel by Daniel P. Mannix seems like a delightful tale of an unlikely friendship between a mischievous fox and a friendly hound. But if we take a look at the original narrative, it's clear that it's far from delightful.
The original story does not focus on a friendship forming between Tod the Fox and Copper the hound. Rather, it focuses on the two separate lives of the dog and the fox, ending with Tod dying from exhaustion after being relentlessly hunted by Copper. Then, to top it all off Copper is shot by his elderly master, who is about to enter a nursing home where no dogs are allowed. Wow! I mean, couldn't he have just taken him to the pound?
We all know the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty - about a princess who falls under the spell of an evil fairy, falling asleep for a hundred years until a charming prince comes to awaken her from her magical slumber with a kiss. They are later married, and all live happily ever after. It's pretty much standard Disney fairytale fodder.
However, the original story (or one of the variations of it at least, as there have been many), is... awful. Upon finding the sleeping princess, the King (because he's a married man and not a prince - causing further complications in the original story) doesn't awaken her with a kiss. Instead, the king rapes her while she's unconscious, impregnates her and then simply leaves. Sleeping Beauty then gives birth to twins, one of which then sucks the spindle flax from her finger - thus breaking the spell.
The Little Mermaid
One of the biggest differences between Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid and the Disney adaptation is that the stakes are not quite as high in the animated movie as they are in the original story. While the mermaid is still tasked with finding true loves kiss and somehow getting the prince to fall in love with her (all without the aid of her voice), the original tale is a lot darker. If she fails in her quest, then she will die; not merely turn back into a mermaid as in the Disney movie.
Also, in the Hans Christian Anderson version, whenever the mermaid walks on her newly acquired feet, she endures relentless torture - as every step feels like she is walking over broken glass. But to top it all off, in the original version the mermaid actually fails in her quest. The prince marries another woman, and the voiceless mermaid is powerless to protest!
The mermaid is then faced with a difficult choice. If she chooses to kill the prince, than she can turn back into a mermaid and save her own life. But instead - she throws herself into the sea, turning into sea foam and ceasing to exist. What a delightful, happy ending indeed.
Disturbing Images: Hidden Sexual Scenes in Your Favourite Disney Animations
While there has been some speculation about the authenticity of some of these claims - it is widely thought that some Disney movies contain hidden, even subliminal messages. This might seem far-fetched, but there are actually a couple of instances where it has been proven to be absolutely true.
The Topless Lady in The Rescuers
One such example of hidden, disturbing imagery can be seen in the 1990s animated film The Rescuers.
Now, The Rescuers is by and large just an innocent film about two brave mice who embark on a mission to rescue a little girl from the clutches of a psychotic criminal who wants to use her to retrieve a diamond from an underwater cave. I confess that as I write this, I'm uncovering plot holes and errors with the entire concept of this movie that just don't make any sense. (Why would anyone need a minor to grab a diamond from a cave? A miner maybe...)
However, I'll ignore these errors and problems with the narrative simply because I LOVED watching The Rescuers as a child.
But one thing I didn't notice when watching the film as a kid was a scene where the image of a naked woman could be seen through the window of an apartment building, as Bernard and Bianca (our plucky rodent heroes), fly through the city on the back of an albatross.
The 'objectionable background image' that actually led to the recall of the 1997 home video release of The Rescuers occurs at around 38 minutes into the film, according to online urban legends references page Snopes. Why on earth the animators decided to put this image into the film in the first place still remains a mystery.
The Phallus Palace in The Little Mermaid
The case of the inappropriately shaped castle turret on the artwork for The Little Mermaid is an entertaining one, to say the very least.
While anybody with a pair of eyes can determine that one of the castle turrets on the original poster and VHS artwork for the animated film bears a striking resemblance to a penis - the idea that the thing was drawn deliberately has been strongly refuted.
Rumour had it that the artist who created the video cover art was to be laid off. So, in a last act of rebellion, he inserted the phallus into the artwork. OK, maybe 'inserted' wasn't the best choice of words there, but you catch my meaning.
Even though it is widely regarded that the resemblance is just too uncanny to be an accident (especially when you view it in contrast with the other, 'normal' shaped spires of the castle) Disney and other sources maintain that the story about the disgruntled artist is completely false. It has since been said that the artist did not even work for Disney, and thus the resemblance of the turret to a phallus has to be completely coincidental.
All I can say is take a look at the art work and then make your own decision...
Have you heard of any dark facts (or rumours) surrounding your favourite Disney films? We'd love to hear about them!
Feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.
Title Image source: Disney Wiki - Wikia