Arguably one of the most heartbreaking scenes in cinematic history
An interesting recent article in The Atlantic explores the prevalence of violence in G and PG-rated movies. It details the results of a study which compared the most successful animated children’s movies from 1937 to 2013 with the two top grossing films for adults from those years. The result? “Two-thirds of children’s movies depicted the death of an important character while only half of films for adults did, [and] the main cartoon characters in children’s films were two-and-a-half times more likely to die, and three times as likely to be murdered, when compared with their counterparts in films for adults.”
More specifically, they discovered that “in children’s movies, parents, nemeses and children were most likely to be killed off first, while in adult-geared films the movie’s protagonist was most likely to die first on-screen.”
Cinderella loses her father and mother as well, but offscreen
So why is there so much death in entertainment for kids? Parents.com offers one explanation: “It’s natural for children, at various ages, to worry about being less loved than a sibling, starting school, and perhaps worst of all, being lost or abandoned. “Nothing is scarier than the thought of getting separated from your parents or having your parents die,” says Lawrence Sipe, PhD, a professor of children’s literature at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia. Rather than instilling these fears in children, fairy tales actually help kids face the fears they already have — and vanquish them.”
What do you think? Were you disturbed or fascinated by death in stories when you were a child? And is there a difference between secondary characters being killed as opposed to the protagonists, who are often children themselves?
Thanks to Assistant Director Josh for the Atlantic article!
But when you spy that dot, keep your eyes on it for that dot will growand grow, take form and definition, and you will see that that dot is a bird. Now follow that bird, observe it well for its neck is long and its legs are slender, and in its beak it carries a package. Yes my friends, that bird is the stork and it carries my wife and I's longawaited baby boy.
- SHOCKHEADED PETER, p. 4
Storks are frequently associated with babies in modern Western culture, from baby shower decorations to birth announcements, as well as being a droll way of putting off that infamous child’s question: “Where do babies come from?” But where, in our popular imagination, did this image of storks come from?
In several mythologies, storks are symbols commitment and fidelity, because storks are widely believed to mate for life–not entirely true, but they do tend to return to the same nests year after year.
Furthermore, the migratory patterns of storks lead to their association with birth. They “fly south in the fall and return to Europe nine months later. Usually they could be seen heading north and nesting around March and April. Babies born in March and April were likely conceived in June of the previous year. Midsummer’s Eve, which takes place on June 21, is a celebration of the summer solstice, but it is also a pagan holiday of marriage and fertility. As many marriages and other couplings would take place during this time, many babies would be born around the time that the storks could be seen flying north, making the connection that the “stork brought the baby.”” [source]
The widespread popularity of this myth, though, can be traced to Hans Christian Anderson’s 19th century short story The Storks. In in, a family of storks is revenged upon boys in town who threaten them by delivering a dead baby to the family of the ringleader.
“Yes, certainly,” cried the mother stork. “I have thought upon the best way to be revenged. I know the pond in which all the little children lie, waiting till the storks come to take them to their parents. The prettiest little babies lie there dreaming more sweetly than they will ever dream in the time to come. All parents are glad to have a little child, and children are so pleased with a little brother or sister. Now we will fly to the pond and fetch a little baby for each of the children who did not sing that naughty song to make game of the storks.”
“But the naughty boy, who began the song first, what shall we do to him?” cried the young storks.
“There lies in the pond a little dead baby who has dreamed itself to death,” said the mother. “We will take it to the naughty boy, and he will cry because we have brought him a little dead brother. But you have not forgotten the good boy who said it was a shame to laugh at animals: we will take him a little brother and sister too, because he was good.”
Thanks to ensemble member Amelia for the question and link!
In the slides below you’ll find a collection of questions and provocations we’re asking ourselves as we begin the production and design process.