5 Lesser-Known Grimm Fairy Tales That Would Be Great Movies

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 26th, 2013 at 7:03 am, This is a list post.

5 Lesser Known Film-Worthy Grimm Stories

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in Hansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersThe 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

Grimm Stories - The White SnakeThe 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

Grimm Stories - The Devil with Three Golden HairsThe 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

Grimm Stories - Death's Messengers by Aurian RedsonDeath’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.Read the entire story HERE. Artwork courtsey of Aurian Redson.

The Four Skillful Brothers

Grimm Stories - The Four Skillful Brothers by Emerson TungThe 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.Read the entire story HERE. Artwork courtesy of Emerson Tung.

Iron John

Grimm Stories - Iron JohnRounding 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.

5 Lesser Known Film-Worthy Grimm Stories

Hansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersAs 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?Follow me on Twitter - @MoviePaul - and tell me a bedtime story.
TAGS: hansel and gretel witch hunters


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  1. How the 1st, 4th, and 5th stories aren’t already feature length animated features done by Disney or Dreamworks I will never know.

    • yeah man 1, 4, and 5! the brothers one and the iron john would be incredible! I was imagining an animated movie as I read the 4 brothers one.. that would be awesome. they should totally do that instead of another shrek or kungfu panda :)

      • @Tyler, MovieDude – Totally agree. I actually went through and read 100+ of these stories to pick out 5 and I found myself seeing them in a brand new light. A tweak here or there and they would make fun films.


      • you could never have too much shrek.

  2. “offer the daughter’s hand in marriage” – gosh, so typical!!!

    • @Grim – I think it’s only typical because that was how the stories were told 200+ years ago. Kings, Queens, Princesses and such. Unless it’s an animated film most of these stories would have to be updated slightly to connected better with the audience.


      • that’s what i’m saying, that it’s so typical! gosh, were ppl not creative back then?

        • Its really no less creative than killing the villain or saving the world or getting the girl. Just like every story told today. For every unique story we have, they have a Divine Comedy, Candide, Frankenstein, etc.

  3. what is the point of the thief stealing the eggs and the hunter shooting them down? that seems redundant

    • @jack – But the dragon doesn’t phase you at all? lol I’m kidding. Yeah, what can I say? It’s a fairytale :)


    • Hunter shoots them down from wherever so the thief can sneak in as the only one with skill not to be caught and grab them?

      I agree though, as we’ve seen with Pocahontas being remade so many times under different names over the years, the oldest stories are usually the best.

    • @jack- in the story, each brother has his own challenge regarding the eggs. The astronomer must count them, the theif must steal them, the Hunter must shoot them all with a single bullet, and the tailor must sew them back together.

  4. I could see a Modernized Version of the Four Brothers story. I think that would work as a live action movie. I really like that story

  5. I’d like to see The Four Skillful Brothers made into a movie the most :)

  6. If the Disney Princess girls looked like the illustration heading this article, I would still have my Mickey Mouse ears on, be watching the Disney Mouseketeer Club, and singing, “Zippidee-Doo-Dah” and “It’s a Small World, After All!”!

  7. I’m down for any of these.

  8. IRON JOHN offers the most potential for a live-action film given a very imaginative adaptation. It would require a narrative mission beyond what’s written here and an unraveling of the plot that offers a surprise ending. If not action-driven, depth of character would be necessary and strong visual story-telling.

    Otherwise, THE LION AND THE UNICORN just well be a part of this mix.

  9. The first three stories mentioned, The White Snake, The Devil and the Three Golden Hairs, and Death’s Messengers, are the only ones that look promising. The other two look terrible, they have no point to them, especially the one about the Four Brothers >:P

  10. I’m actually empowered and your way with words-at all in addition to while using the data format for a weblog. Is this your paid concept as well as do you adjust this your self? At any rate remain in the awesome high-quality creating, it is actually strange to peer a great site like this one nowadays.

  11. What about the goose girl? Or little goose girl I ccan’t remember the exact title. But that would be a great Disney story I think

  12. These stories are all about men. Perfect for sexist Hollywood!

    • Totally!