Here are a few notes from my dissertation proposal which I handed in at the end of my second year, but quite a few things changed from the proposal to the final dissertation. Originally, for my dissertation, I decided to focus my research on the adaptation of fairy tales within film after noticing the amount of fairy tales films that have been released within the last few years. I choose to write a 8000 to 10,000 word thesis for this and began with the working title, ‘How has the portrayal of fairy tales in visual culture changed and developed over time?’. I originally wanted to explore the portrayal of different themes and representations within fairy tales and their adaptations over time, themes such as gender, masculinity and femininity, good and evil, monstrosity and the monstrous feminine, relationships between parents and children and the relevance and popularity of fairy tales.
As well as this, I wanted to explore why fairy tales are still current and relevant, especially with the current interest in retelling fairy tales. This exploration would also look at why there is a sudden rise in film adaptions of fairy tales and how these films compare not only to the original stories but also to previous adaptations of them, exploring the themes and ideas that are present or not in the various adaptations. Finally, in terms of relevance to my practice, fairy tales have always been popular to illustrate and so it’s interesting to see the various different perspectives on the narratives and how they have been illustrated. I thought that by focusing on how other artists have tackled the narrative can help me make decisions on what themes and narrative ideas that I could choose to illustrate in my work.
Despite this rather broad proposal, as I began my research into my dissertation, the subject matter narrowed down massively and I decided to focus on the portrayal of women with in fairy tales, focusing on ‘Snow White’ as an example. I decided to pick four film adaptations of the classic fairy tale and compare and contrast how they have been interpreted differently in relation to the portrayal of the two female characters, Snow White and her stepmother the Evil Queen. The films I chose for the study were Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Snow White: A Tale of Terror directed by Michael Cohn, Mirror Mirror (2012) directed by Tarsem Singh and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) directed by Rupert Sanders.