Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review: "The Snow Queen" Classic a Month #12.2014

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson
2 out of 5 stars

I am obsessed with the movie Frozen. I've watched the movie at least half a dozen times, I have the soundtrack on my phone, I got the Funko Pop figures for Christmas, when anyone says "do you want to...", I finish it with "...build a snowman?" So when I heard that it was based on Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Snow Queen, I was super excited to read it for my December classic.

And after reading it...well, let me just save you the trouble. Frozen is very loosely based on this story. An inkling of an idea exists, but that's about it. I was pretty disappointed, to be honest. The story kind of went all over the place and didn't make a lot of sense. The few parts that I actually enjoyed were super short and it moved on to something else.

Now then, let us begin. When we are at the end of the story, we shall know more than we know now; but to begin.

This is a story of magic, as most fairy tales are. We begin with a sprite, or fairy, who creates a mirror that shows evil and ugliness in its reflection. The mirror is broken into thousands of pieces all around the world and wherever it lands, the evil is multiplied. The worst is when a sliver lands in a person's eye or their heart. (Small reference to Frozen.) Then, they are forever frozen against love and goodness.

A little boy and girl (Kay & Gerda) are the best of friends, until Kay gets one of those slivers in his heart. He runs off and meets the Snow Queen, who takes him as her own. Gerda is devastated and decides to go looking for him. The rest of the story tells of her adventures, first with talking flowers who tell long, convoluted tales of their own. "I don't understand that at all," said little Gerda. (and me) Then she meets a prince and princess with the help of a Raven and a robber maiden who first wants to kill her and then decides to help her, a reindeer (Sven?) who takes her to Finland and finally the Queen's castle made of ice. Even though she is just a girl, she gets no help from anyone beyond that.

"I can give her no more power than what she has already. She must not hear of her power from us; that power lies in her heart, because she is a sweet and innocent child!"

Gerda arrives at the castle barefoot and freezing but she says the Lord's Prayer and is saved by a legion of angels. She finds Kay, who is nearly black with cold, and wraps him in a warm hug. "Then little Gerda shed burning tears; and they fell on his bosom, they penetrated to his heart, they thawed the lumps of ice, and consumed the splinters of the looking-glass." The children make the long trip back home, nearly grown-ups now, and the journey is really just a dream to them.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: "The Little Prince" Classic a Month #11.2014

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
3 out of 5 stars

Okay, I'll just say it flat out...I didn't really "get" this book. Maybe I'm reading too much into it or maybe not enough, I don't know. I know there's probably some big lesson I should be getting out of it, but I didn't. It was a sweet, sad little story yes, but I know I missed the big picture. Those of you who have read it, help me out here? And if you haven't read it, go try and let me know what you think! (Spoilers here, of course.)

So, this is the story of a little prince from a far off star planet who arrives on Earth. He befriends a pilot whose plane has gone down in the middle of the desert and as the man is trying to fix it, the prince keeps him occupied with stories of his travels. First, he tells of his own little planet, with its beautifully unique flower, three volcanoes (one extinct), and forty-four sunsets a day. Then he begins to tell of the people and beings he has met on the other planets: a king who rules only over himself, a conceited man who demands admiration, a drunk who drinks because he is ashamed of his drinking. Each person he meets imparts a lesson or bit of wisdom on the boy.

"One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform."

"Then you shall judge yourself. That is the most difficult thing of all. It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom."

Then there is the businessman who collects the stars in a bank of numbers, the lamplighter, and the geographer who does not explore.

"Little golden objects that set lazy men to idle dreaming."
"Ah! You mean the stars?"

And finally, he arrives on Earth, where he meets a snake who promises to help send him back to his star when he is ready. He meets a garden full of roses, exactly like the flower he left behind. "I thought that I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose. That doesn't make me a very great prince." He tames a fox and learns a valuable lesson about his flower and himself.

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." 

And then he meets the pilot. He asks the man to draw him a sheep to take home with him and a box to keep him in. The man listens, sometimes impatiently, to the prince's stories and on the eighth day, they must go in search of water or die. They magically find a well and drink the golden water and there, the prince tells the man that the anniversary of his trip is coming up and it is time for him to return home. The man does not understand at first and then tries to talk the boy out of it, but it is no use. He cannot take his body back to his star with him and so must leave it there. The snake is back to help him on his journey and the prince gives one last gift to the man.

"And at night you will look up at the stars. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens...they will all be your friends."