A weekend or so ago I saw the new Hellboy remake. It was awesome, gory, fun and is nothing like the Guierrmo Del Toro version. I'll say right now it doesn't deserve the bad ratings it's getting comparing it to the previous two incarnations, and I'll save the rant behind that opinion for another time. The portrayal that dispelled all my doubts was this scary Russian beauty:
Yeah, that's Baba Yaga.
Long story short, she's like the child-eating witch from Hansel and Gretel only with a lot more mystique and the only ones who "outsmart" her are people who help her and ignore her cannibalism long enough to earn a reward. She's a common archetype in a lot of Slavic fairy tales and folklore and infamous because of it.
I love Disney and its lighthearted take on making these stories accessible to modern audiences. But they have sanitized a lot of these darker figures and features. Many versions of Cinderella have her step sisters cutting their toes and heels off trying to fit into that tiny slipper. Most folklore monsters eat humans and trick people into horrible deaths.
Having at least a kernel of that darkness pop up now and then is important to preserve the balance in these old lessons and entertainment. Without that quality in the threat, the evil doesn't seem as urgent to defeat.
Which brings me back to Hellboy. It had a lot of the dark elements inherit in folklore and fairy tales and wasn't afraid to make its monsters bad as well as sympathetic. That brings out the true core of the story, though, when the light shines through the humor and heart of the heroes.
Are there some fun dark fairy tale figures you'd like to highlight? Have you seen the new Hellboy and know the quality I'm talking about? Do you agree that too much sanitation can take out the oomph of these stories or is it better to tone down the darker parts for accessibility? I love hearing from you!
Brie Tart writes fantasies in which she draws the mythical from the mundane. She spends the rest of her time dabbling in languages and prepping for her next adventure.