Monthly Archives: June 2014

A guide to the mistakes of Disneys’ Hercules

Due to the nature of their source material, Disney has a lot of creative control when it comes to their stories, but I do believe that there should be some aspects which they should strive to depict accurately, the top of this list being religions (and yes, ancient religions still count). Which is why, as a classics nerd, I both hate and love Disney’s adaption of Hercules.

The first mistake in Disney’s adaption is the name of our protagonist. ‘Hercules’ the characters Roman name while his Greek name is Heracles (after Zeus’s wife, Hera). Now, this would be fine if the movie was portraying the Roman version of the myth but all other characters have their Greek names and the film is very clearly set in ancient Greece.

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Similarly, whenever numbers are used, they appear in the form of Roman numerals (“Call IX I I !”), despite the fact that the ancient Greek versions of the numbers would be alpha, beta, gamma and so forth.

The next mistake comes in the opening series. Disney only utilised five out of the nine muses (Calliope- epic poetry, Clio- history, Melpomene- tragedy, Terpsichore- dance, and Thalia- comedy). I can see why they trimmed down the numbers. It makes it easier to focus on developing the characters and makes it easier to choreography the muses dance routines. But still, I can’t help but feel bad for Euterpe, Erato, Polyhymnia and Urania who didn’t make the cut. Tangentially, I do love the inclusion of the muses as the narrators. Most works of epic poetry from the time would start with an invocation to the muses for inspiration and guidance. So it makes sense that they would be the ones to help the actual narrator tell the story. I’m not too sure about the christian gospel style music though…

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If you know the myth of Heracles, you’ll know that the Disney story has nothing to do with the original myths. Disney do have the power to take liberties with their stories but this adaption bares no resemblance to the original. It’s like Cinderella without her stepsisters or Snow White with no evil queen.

The most striking difference is Hades being cast as the villain of the story and Hera being the lovely, doting mother. For one thing, Heracles wasn’t Hera’s son. Zeus was a notorious womaniser and had a child with the mortal Alcmene (who appears as Herc’s foster mother in the film). Hera hated all of Zeus’ illegitimate offspring and made it her mission to ruin Heracles’ life. The most prominent of the Herculean myths is the Labours of Heracles. Heracles was driven mad by Hera and consequently killed his sons and wife (sorry Megara). To atone for his sins, Heracles undertook the 12 labours. These labours are referenced to throughout the film, for example; the battle with the Hydra (2nd Labour). Hercules fighting the Lion (1st Labour), the Boar (4th Labour) and the Stymphalian Bird (6th Labour) and the capturing of Cerberus (12th Labour) at the end of the film. Phil also mentions the task of cleaning Augean’s stables (5th Labour) and retrieving a Girdle from ‘some Amazons’ (9th Labour). However, despite the passing references to the labours, they don’t contribute to the plot of Disney’s adaption.

Similarly, in the film, Hercules meets Megara after he saves her from the River Guardian. This story is actually how Heracles meets his second wife Deianira in the original myths.

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Now, I can see how some aspects of the original myths (like the protagonist killing his wife and children) aren’t exactly child friend, but dammit Disney, you could at least try.

Similarly, a lot of the myths surrounding the other characters are misinterpreted. For example, the main reasoning behind Hades’ villainous behaviour is that Zeus bestowed the Underworld upon him. In the original myths, Zeus didn’t decide who got what, the three brothers (Zeus, Hades and Poseidon) drew lots. Hades was just an unlucky guy, that’s all.

In addition to this, characters who shouldn’t be in Olympus appear during the film. The most noticeable being Narcissus, who was never a god, and therefore wouldn’t be able to reach Mount Olympus.

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Disney’s version of the story oddly incorporates Jewish characters. For example, Hades had a tendency to use phrases such as “Oy Vey” when aggravated. Now, I’m not denying that Jewish people were around at this time, but it seems highly unlikely that the Greek god would be one of them. This could be a reflection of Walt Disney’s anti-Semitism (by making the villains Jewish) or it could be related to the fact that the Hebrew version of the underworld (She’ol) was translated into Greek as Hades.

Another unexplained Jewish character is Philoctetes, the satyr, who uses Yiddish like a second language. Phil goes through a number of changes for the Disney adaption, the main of which being that in the myths Phil wasn’t a satyr, he was a prince and a hero. Instead of a valiant hero, we get…

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In the film, when Hercules first enters Phil’s hut, he bangs his head on the mast of the Argo. Hercules is suitably impressed by the artefact, but in the mythology, Heracles was one of the heroes aboard the Argo at the time.

Another Phil-related error is Phil’s desire to have trained a hero to be immortalised in the stars. In the film, Phil claims to have trained Perseus, who has a constellation. So this kind of diminishes the impact of his big dream.

Other characters who’ve been vastly misinterpreted in the film adaption are Pain and Panic. The nearest corresponding characters are Phobos (the personification of fear) and Deimos (the personification of terror) who are actually sons of Ares. However, Phobos and Deimos also appear in the TV series (Episode 14: Hercules and the Owl of Athena) named Fear and Terror (who were presented as being dim-witted instead of terrifying). Which suggests that Pain and Panic weren’t meant to be adaptions of the Greek characters.

The Fates were confused with The Graeae in the Disney film. The Graeae were the perpetually old women who helped Perseus find Medusa. This trio of women shared a singular eye, not the Fates.

Furthermore, Pegasus was created by the blood of Medusa, not from clouds. Pegasus had nothing to do with the Herculean myths, and instead belonged to either Bellerophon or Perseus.

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Another massive misinterpretation of the story comes from the depiction of the Titans. In the Disney adaption, The Titans say that Zeus put them in their prison, but Zeus’s grandfather Uranus did. Furthermore, in the movie, Hades releases the Titans from a place at the bottom of the ocean but in the original myths they were banished to Tartarus (the prison of the underworld). In addition,the Cyclops who fights Hercules was not an actual Titan and the other Titans in the film are shown as personifications of wind, fire, ice and earth. This a stark difference from how they appear in Greek mythology, but is remarkably similar to the Jötun of Norse mythology.

So, you can probably tell that I have a lot of strong feeling about Disneys’ adaption of the Greek myths. I’m going t stop here though, because if I keep going then I’m going to be writing all night. Let me know what you think about Disneys’ Hercules. Do you like the adaption or are there other errors that make it hard for you to watch. Feel free to let me know in the comments.

 

Top Eight Disney Sequels

The Disney sequel movies tend to have a bit of a bad reputation. A lot of them had a much smaller budget and were straight to VHS releases, so naturally the quality is pretty poor. But there are some sequel movies that I absolutely adore and will defend to the death. So here’s my top eight Disney sequels. Why eight? Because these are the only ones that I like. That’s why.

1. Beauty and the Beast

There were two mid-quel movies for Beauty and the Beast; The Enchanted Christmas and Belles Magical World.

The Enchanted Christmas is pretty much my go to Christmas movie. The setup is that Belle tries to bring Christmas to the castle whilst a massive organ named Forte (played by Tim Curry) attempts to brainwash the Beast so that the curse is never broken. As much as I love it, this mid-quel has a lot of problems. Particularly its introduction of new characters who are never seen again. It is a pretty well thought out story though and has the same feel as the original movie, despite the cheaper animation.

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Belles Magical World was set up to be a Disney TV series, like Aladdin or the Little Mermaid, it didn’t quite pan out though and three (or four depending which version you have) stories were crammed into one movie. The stories are very obviously meant to be episodes and attempt to achieve a lot of development in a short amount of time. Each of the episodes come with obnoxious preachy songs about the moral of the story which are so irritating that I have to skip past them whenever they show up. At least The Enchanted Christmas has a decent soundtrack. But by far, the best part of this DVD was the live action section;

2. Lion King

Okay. I’ll admit it. Like many girls my age, I had a bit of a crush on Kovu the lion. But can you blame me?

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And you know whats awesome? His voice actor was pretty attractive too.
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But back to the review. While Lion King was an animated version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Lion King II: Simba’s Pride was an adaption of Romeo and Juliet. One of my favourite parts of this film is the soundtrack. I can’t stand ‘Upendi’ but ‘My Lullaby’ and ‘Not One of Us’ are just so brilliantly sinister. If you haven’t seen this movie you should check them out;


There was also a third film in this series; Lion King 1 ½. This film is essentially Timon and Pumba watching the first film and telling their version of the events. This shouldn’t work as a plot, but it does and I love it. While Lion King was based on Hamlet this film is based on the play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” which features the events of Hamlet through the eyes of two minor characters.
The film is great character development for two well loved minor characters. Timon and Pumba stumble around in their attempts to find a home, accidentally falling into the plot of Lion King. And as far as I’m concerned, this movie is perfect.

3. Mulan

There’s a bit too much focus on the love stories in Mulan 2 for my liking but there are some great moments of girl-power throughout the film. My favourite moment comes early on when Mulan is training on her own and all of the village girls show up, wanting to be taught how to fight.

The story follows Mulan and Shang accompanying three princesses to their arranged marriage. During this time, Mulan convinces the princesses to follow their hearts instead of their duties. The princesses then fall for the gang of three who are conveniently perfect matches for the girls. The plot can be a bit preachy about the “my duty is to my heart” story line. But there are some brilliant moments, I’m still traumatised from Shangs supposed death and Mulan going to marry the obnoxious little prince. So despite the heavy emphasis on the love story, Mulan 2 is definitely worth a watch.

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4. Jungle Book

The jungle book sequel follows Mowgli adapting to human life but he soon finds it difficult to cope and returns to the wild. I never liked the ending of the first Jungle Book, where Mowgli didn’t want to join the human villagers until he sees the pretty girl. The sequel makes up for it though. Shanti is a pretty awesome character and she works well as a childish voice of reason. She knows the rules better than most of the children and is pretty intent on following it, but she soon gets swept up in Mowglis madness.

5. Lilo and stitch

Stitch! The Movie was a great lead into the TV series (which I used to watch religiously). It introduces how the main characters intend to deal with the other experiments who were released all over the island. I’ve always loved the Lilo and Stitch series because of how they portray different styles of families. Lilos older sister Nani is the matriarch of the household and for a while it’s just the two of them. After the events of the first film, the family expands to include Nani’s boyfriend David, Stitch, Uncle Jumba and Aunt Pleakley (Gender fluid aliens. Go Disney.) In this film, the family expands even more as stitch is determined that all of the other experiments constitute his cousins and therefore our dynamic duo are determined to find the one place that each of the experiments belong. It’s a lovely form of quest which spawned a brilliant TV show.

Stitch has a Glitch is more of a midquel, set between the two previous movies. It’s essentially a rehash of the first movie, a default in stitches programming means that he revert to his original destructive nature. This film isn’t quite as engaging, but the family dynamic is as strong as ever with some emotion references to Lilo wanting to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

6. The Little Mermaid

I do love Return to the Sea, but it is essentially the first film in reverse. Ariels daughter Melody has always been on land and wishes that she could become a mermaid. Melody was never told about her mother’s past after a conflict with Ursulas sister and it seems like a lot of the conflict in this film could have been avoided if they had just explained to the half-mermaid child why she loves the ocean so much. A bit of fore-thought could have saved a lot of drama but I suppose that wouldn’t have been a particularly interesting film…

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I never really liked the prequel Ariels Beginning though. It goes back to Ariels childhood and shows her mother being killed by sailors and King Triton subsequently banning music in the kingdom due to his own depression. Ariel, the little rebel that she is, discovers an underground music club headed by Sebastian and makes it her mission to bring music back to the kingdom. Not a particularly interesting plot, but it does give the music presentation of the first film (Daughters of Triton) a lot more significant. It does however make Ariel seem pretty fickle for missing something which she campaigned so hard for.

7. Hunchback of Notre Dame

This sequel isn’t all that well constructed. It’s basically giving Quasimodo the love interest that he didn’t get in the first movie. However, there is one fact of the movie that I absolutely love.

Remember how Esmeralda and Djali mocked Phoebus when he informed her that his name means ‘sun-god’? Well, the pair had a son. And somehow, Phoebus must have persuaded Esmeralda to let him name the poor kid. Because Zephr is the name of one of the Greek gods of the wind. And imagining that conversation just makes me laugh.

8. Cinderella

Another confession for you all; I hate Disneys Cinderella. I do however, love the sequels.

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True is essentially the same as Belles Magical world, where three short stories are squished into one film. My favourite story by far is the step-sister Anastasia falling in love with the baker.
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They’re a perfect couple, but unfortunately, there was another sequel; Cinderella III: A Stitch in Time. In which they conveniently forgot that the second film existed. Lady Tremaine gets possession of the Fairy Godmothers wand and basically it’s the climax from Swan Princess. Anastasia appears to have forgotten about her boyfriend and is instead willing to disguise herself as Cinderella to marry the prince. So as much as I love the second film, this set of sequels goes to the bottom of the list for forgetting about their happily ever afters.

So that’s my list of the best Disney sequels. Let me know what you think. Do you love or hate the Disney sequels? Have I missed any that you think should be on the list? Let me know.

“Don’t risk dude-ness”

If you haven’t seen the latest Veet adverts for hair removal cream let me set the scene for you. Like most advert, it involves a women in bed with a man. The woman gets up and dresses in his shirt. The voice-over then states; “There are some things of a man that look good on a woman. Stubble isn’t one of them.”

Now, there are many things wrong with this. The first of which being the suggestion that having body hair is something which happens only to men. As any women will tell you; this is bullshit. And the advertising strategy is essentially shaming women for growing hair. Something which they don’t have any control over.

It’s difficult to remember that compulsive shaving is relatively recent. The need to shave has pretty much directly correlated with the rising hemlines of women’s clothes and the desire to remove the hair that has subsequently been put on display. And ever since then hair removal companies have made a killing by making women feel bad about their body hair.

Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with women who want to shave religiously. But I do hate companies who profit by diminishing women’s self-esteem.

Here’s another advert that I found by the same company:

Just…. no.

Tangentially, adverts which show women shaving don’t even show hairy legs. Their products just glide across perfectly shaven limbs. As though female body hair was such a taboo that they can’t even show it on TV.

I don’t really have a big overarching point to this. I just wanted to rant about something which annoyed me. Let me know what you guys think of these adverts. Creative advertising or undue body shaming?