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  • Sophie: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Sophie.

  • Neil: And I'm Neil. So, Sophie I watched Snow White and the Huntsman on TV last night.

  • Sophie: Oh, you mean the modern retelling of the story Snow White?

  • Did you enjoy it, Neil?

  • Neil: It was OK. But the seven dwarves were no fun. I prefer the original

  • Disney cartoon version.

  • Sophie: Don't be silly, Neil. Walt Disney didn't invent the story.

  • The movie you watched is a remake, a film that has been made again,

  • but the fairy tale is very old.

  • Neil: Well, that may be true, but I still prefer the Disney version with funny dwarves.

  • In the new version, even the names of the dwarves are different and,

  • you know, serious looking.

  • Sophie: But this new version is for young adultsit's a different genre or style of film.

  • Names like Sneezy, Dopey, Happy and Grumpy are too childish.

  • Neil: Hmm. What's wrong with childish?

  • Sophie: It's right up your street, isn't it Neil?

  • Neil: Too right.

  • Sophie: Anyway, fairy tales are the subject of today's show, and I have a question for you:

  • which movie star played the role of the evil fairy in Maleficent,

  • a 2014 film based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty?

  • Was it... a) Cate Blanchett?

  • b) Angelina Jolie? Or c) Meryl Streep?

  • Neil: Well, I'll go for a) Cate Blanchett. She often plays evil characters.

  • I can't forget her in the 2008 movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

  • Sophie: Well, we'll find out if you chose the right move star later on in the programme.

  • But to return to the idea of childish fairy stories, let's listen to Diane Purkiss,

  • a children's author, talking about how originally fairy tales were intended for an adult audience.

  • Diane Purkiss: Interestingly there has been a bit of a move towards seeing fairy tales

  • as an adult, or at any rate a young adult – a dark sort of genre.

  • And that's natural because actually in the past fairy tales were told by adults to adults

  • in William Shakespeare's time.

  • It's only in the Victorian era that they become moral children's tales and it looks like we're

  • going back to the inception of fairy stories now with a more adult take on them.

  • Neil: Diane Purkiss. So these Hollywood remakes aimed at the teen market are actually returning

  • fairy tales to an adult audience.

  • Sophie: That's right, Neil. And dark here means scary or frightening.

  • The Victorians toned down this dark contentor made it less forceful.

  • They also introduced a moralor message about what's right and wrongto the tales.

  • Neil: And inception means the beginning.

  • So fairy tales began as a dark genre.

  • Sophie: Can you give us some examples of dark stories written by the brothers Grimm, Neil?

  • Neil: Well... I have a list here. Let's see.

  • In The Frog Prince the princess doesn't kiss the frog, she throws it... she throws it

  • she throws it against the wall! Hmm, yes.

  • Sophie: Hmm. I prefer the kiss version.

  • Neil: And in Little Red Riding Hood don't believe that version where the wolf shuts granny in a cupboard.

  • In the real version he gobbles her up and then eats Red Riding Hood for dessert.

  • Sophie: Charming. And to gobble something up means to eat it very fast.

  • OK, that's enough. Let's move on.

  • Did you know that some of the storieslike Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood,

  • Cinderella, and Snow White go back much further than the earliest written stories

  • even the ones in Latin and Greek?

  • Neil: No, I didn't. To be honest, Sophie, I thought Walt Disney had written them.

  • Sophie: Oh Neil... well research suggests that some fairy tales date back to well before

  • the brothers Grimm and even Shakespeare.

  • Let's hear more from Dr Jamie Tehrani, anthropologist at Durham University in the UK.

  • Dr JTehrani: So these fairy tales that we've looked at ... we've been able to trace back,

  • really, thousands of yearsprobably sort of 4-6,000 years is the origin of many famous

  • European folk tales, stories such as Beauty and the Beast.

  • BBC Reporter: What, 6,000 years?!

  • Dr J Tehrani: Yep, going right back to the Bronze Age.

  • BBC Reporter: Good heavens!

  • Dr J Tehrani: We've been able to trace the transmission across generations of these stories

  • much further back than is generally recognized.

  • Neil: But Sophie... if there's no written evidence of the stories from 6,000 years ago

  • how does Dr Tehrani, who we've just heard from, know people were telling them?

  • Sophie: Well, dating languages isn't something I'm familiar with

  • I think it's a bit like looking at a few dinosaur bones and trying to reconstruct what dinosaurs looked like.

  • But here you're trying to reconstruct stories without any actual bits.

  • It must have been hard work for the researchers.

  • Neil: Indeed. Well, I think it's time to hear the quiz question again, Sophie.

  • Sophie: OK, I asked: Which movie star played the role of the evil fairy in Maleficent,

  • a film based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty?

  • Was it... a) Cate Blanchett? b) Angelina Jolie? Or c) Meryl Streep?

  • Neil: I said Cate Blanchett.

  • Sophie: And you were wrong. Angelina Jolie played the main character in the film Maleficent.

  • Cate Blanchett played the elf queen Galadriel in Lord of the Rings.

  • And Meryl Streep played a blue-haired witch in the 2014 film Into the Woods.

  • Neil: Now, can we hear those words again?

  • Sophie: OK!

  • remake

  • genre

  • dark

  • toned down

  • moral

  • inception

  • gobble up

  • Neil: Well, that's the end of today's spellbinding 6 Minute English.

  • Don't forget to join us again soon!

  • Both: Bye.

Sophie: Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Sophie.

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B1 UK sophie fairy fairy tale version genre film

BBC 6 Minute English March 17, 2016 - What's in a fairy tale

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    Adam Huang posted on 2016/04/04
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