Tales of Youthful Innocence and the ‘Beast’ Figure

As a child I remember my grandparents sitting me down to watch two animated short features with a moral attached to each. In 1934’s Jack Frost a little Grizzly Bear wants to defy his parents jurisdiction, so he sneaks out his bedroom window in attempts to prove he can survive the cold winter upon them and heads off with the traditional sack attached to a stick. Near the end of his journey he has been trapped in a hollow log by Winter and the prison like bars that confined him was the image that resonated most with my young mind, that and the fact that Jack Frost stumbles along and turns the frozen bars into candy canes! So the moral was, listen to your parents. Whether this worked, well you could ask them, but it did prevent me from attempting to escape during the winter months for fear of Winter! The character is absolutely horrifying.

The second film was Peter and the Wolf (1946), which was Disney’s version of the Russian children’s story written by, Sergei Prokofiev. In this short story, it was the music, as well as the narrators soothing voice, that endured and remained affixed in my subconscious. My sister and I started humming Peter’s tune out of no where (each character has their own designated tune and instrument), and suddenly I was determined to find this film and relive my childhood once more. I am always impressed by what the mind decides to remember and disregard completely as a child, and the new outlooks that open up when these memories are revisited as an adult. Once again, the moral of this tale is similar to the first and that is to not go out on your own when your parents have strictly prohibited it.

What I love about these films is that they tap into the child’s sense of wonder and fantasy by incorporating animals that talk, or animals as companions, but they also make the effort to implement a code of behaviour that (in my opinion) cannot be done in a more suitable fashion than through music, animals, and animation.

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One thought on “Tales of Youthful Innocence and the ‘Beast’ Figure

  1. Yup….it’s one of the classics, as in the admonishment parents give their children to… ‘never cry wolf’.

    I have to say that the latter is an example of a Disney re-telling of a tale, which was originally written as a way to introduce musical instruments to children by Sergei Prokofiev, without going Hollywood and screwing it up beyond recognition. Pretty rare, but they do exist! 😉

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