The Grimm Brothers stories turned 200 last year and what better way to celebrate two centuries of children’s fables than to take one of those well-known stories and fill it with all sorts of violence, over-the-top special effects – and of course, 3D? Such is the case with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
Most of the stories the Grimm Brothers gathered in their various books came from folklore and legend. Some stories are more well-known than others and are therefore easier to adapt for the big screen – Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Rumpelstiltskin.
However, there are dozens of other more obscure stories in the Grimm library, and we’ve picked out 5 Lesser Known Grimm Stories that we think are worthy of having their tale told on the big screen.
The White Snake is a German fable (not an ’80s hair band) about a wise king who gets his wisdom from eating a unique white snake each day. One night, a curious servant sneaks a taste for himself and soon discovers he has the ability to understand and communicate with animals – like Dr. Dolittle.
The Queen’s ring goes missing and the servant is improperly blamed. While waiting for his punishment (read: death), he hears a goose complaining about a ring stuck in her throat. Upon retrieving and returning it to the King, he is rewarded with riches and a horse.
On his journeys, the servant encounters and helps several distressed animals: three fish out of water, ants about to be stepped on, and hungry baby ravens. Later in life, he has the chance to win the King’s daughter’s hand in marriage with help of the animals he once assisted.
Read the entire story HERE.
The Devil and the Three Golden Hairs is also an old German folk story about a boy born with a birthmark signifying that he, after coming of age, would marry the kingdom’s princess. However, the king is wicked and doesn’t want his daughter to marry the poor boy, so he tricks the boy’s parents into letting him grow up in the castle. Upon arrival, he takes the boy, puts him in a box and throws it in the water. Later, a miller and his wife discover the boy and raise him as their own.
Years later, when the boy is of age to marry, the King happens upon the miller and his wife and notices the birthmark on their son. Realizing his daughter’s would-be suitor was not dead, he hires the boy to deliver a sealed letter to the Queen that states “Kill this boy on arrival.” However, the boy is robbed in his sleep and the robbers take pity on him. They swap out the King’s letter for one that states “This boy will marry the Princess on arrival.”
When the King discovers all his plans have failed thus far, he dispatches the new son-in-law to Hell to retrieve three hairs from the devil – figuring he’ll be rid of him for good. Instead, the boy survives the ordeal and it is the King who ends up condemned to an eternal life of transporting the dead between worlds.
Read the entire story HERE.
Death’s Messengers is another great German-based fable. In this story, Death comes across a giant and after a great battle, lays injured on the side of the road. A nice young man happens upon the gravely-beaten Death and offers to him assistance – not knowing who he is helping.
After Death gets back on his feet, he tells the young man that he can’t extend the man’s life because when it’s your time, then it’s your time. But what Death can do instead is send the young man signs in advance that death is coming, so that the he can properly prepare and get his affairs in order.
Once the man is no longer young, he is surprised when Death shows up to “collect” him. He complains that Death didn’t keep his word by giving him the advanced warning as he promised. Death then points out that he had sent three messengers well in advance that the man ignored: illness, old age and sleep.
The Four Skillful Brothers is a German-based fable about a poor farmer that sends each of his four sons out into the world to learn a trade other than farming. The oldest son masters the art of thieving, the second son looks to the stars, becoming an astronomer – the third takes up hunting as his skill, while the fourth hones his skills with a needle and thread as a tailor.
Once all of the brothers return home, the father tests their skills by asking how many eggs there are inside a nest high up in a tree. The astronomer uses his telescope to count the eggs, the thief steals them, the hunter shoots them down and the tailor sews them back up so well that the mother bird never notices they were harmed.
After a dragon kidnaps the King’s daughter, the four brothers set out to rescue her, hoping to win her hand in marriage. The astronomer tracks the dragon down using his telescope, the thief steals the princess away, the hunter kills the dragon and the tailor fixes the boat’s sails after the dragon destroys them.
Rounding out our list is one last German fairy tale – Iron John. It starts in an ominous forest from which no huntsman has ever returned. One day, a stranger and his dog go into the forest and happen upon a lake where an iron arm suddenly drags the dog in. The man tells the King what happened and returns with a large group of knights. Once there, they discover a naked man lying on the ground – skin like iron, with long shaggy hair covering his entire body.
They take the man back, lock him in a cage in the middle of town and forbid anyone from releasing him upon penalty of death. However, a young Prince is tricked into releasing him and, being scared for his life, runs off with Iron John. Turns out, Iron John is a powerful wizard and offers to help the Prince whenever he needs it.
The Prince travels to a foreign land and when it’s attacked, he asks Iron John for help in defeating the invaders. The King is so smitten with the new mysterious knight that he offers his daughter’s hand in marriage – but only if the knight will come forward. After much thought, the Prince comes forward, marries the Princess and eventually returns home, where he helps break the enchantment that was placed upon Iron John.
Read the entire story HERE.
As you can see, there are several other interesting and intriguing stories from the Grimm book of fairytales that, with some minor modifications, could make excellent backdrops for epic movies.
If you like to read, then check out the rest of the Grimm collection over at SurlaLune Fairy Tales and browse through each of the 200 other stories available. Most of them are short and quite good.
Would you like to see any of the stories we mentioned – The White Snake, The Devils and the Three Golden Hairs, Death Messengers, The Four Skillful Brothers, Iron John – or another Grimm story turned into a movie?
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