Alphabetical Movie – Hercules
A common gripe about Disney is that they mess with the original fairy tale to fit whatever story they want to tell. I imagine the reason people complain about this phenomena is because Disney is producing animated films and if the film is animated, it must be more faithful to the source material than a live action film based on a fairy tale.
Movies reinterpret stories all the time. Yet Disney seems to raise more ire than most other production houses.
Take Hercules as an example. The film has as much to do with Greek Mythology as – say – Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief. Maybe more. Anyone wishing to learn about real Greek Mythology need not watch the film.
But let’s analyze what I said for just a minute. I said real Greek Mythology. The stories aren’t about real people. They are about fake people the Greeks invented to explain how the world worked.
So Disney made the Greek gods cute. We all know that Zeus and Hera didn’t have a happy marriage. We know Zeus was (constantly) sleeping around on Hera but the fact is, that’s a detail you probably don’t want in a kids’ movie.
“Daddy – who is Hercules’ mom?”
“Crap, son, I don’t remember. Zeus had sex with almost every female he encountered. Except Athena, Artemis and Hestia because they were virgin goddesses.”
“What does that mean?”
“Um….hey look! The Muses are singing again!”
I think “real” Greek Mythology is pretty cool but if you want to take issue with Disney creating a fictional account of fiction (I know Pegasus wasn’t Hercules’ ride), I’m not sure you are objecting to the right thing.
I put it in the same category as people complaining about Pocahontas because it isn’t like the real story that John Smith told – a story that he actually made up. Hey, if you like the original story, that is awesome. Don’t go thinking Disney was messing with history, though, because the only history we can confirm is that there was a dude called John Smith and a lady named Pocahontas.
Nobody complained about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure even though we are all pretty sure that Abraham Lincoln wasn’t abducted in the middle of the civil war to help two underachieving musicians get an A on their history final. If that had actually happened, you’d think Abe would’ve skipped the play.
Who goes to a Disney film to see the perfect interpretation of the source material? From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on, Disney tells the story they want to tell. Why does Hercules have a flying horse? Because they were making a movie about a Greek Hero and he needed an animal sidekick (because all Disney heroes need an animal sidekick). Why not give him a flying horse? Flying horses are cool.
Nobody is complaining about the fact Hercules didn’t go mad and kill his own wife in the film.
“Daddy – why is Hercules hitting Meg? I thought he loved Meg.”
“Um…it’s like Hercules said – people do funny things when they are in love.”
Hm….I wonder why Disney cut that part out?
Yeah, Hercules looks a lot like someone put the Greek Myths in a blender and poured the results onto an animation cel.
So what? Hercules is no more about teaching kids about Greek Mythology than The Lion King is about teaching kids about the complex biodiversity of the African Savannah.
If you want to have an issue with the film, how about asking why Zeus had no problem beating the Titans and imprisoning them in the prologue, couldn’t beat them when they marched on Olympus later and then kicked their holy asses as soon as Hercules showed up to free him.
What is the deal with that????