Puppets and Bees

With the end of the year quickly approaching, most classes tend to get rushed and stressful. However, in our class on Thursday, we were able to have a rather joyful time.

To start off the class, my partner Max and I presented a powerpoint about The Bee Movie. The class learned that the 2007 DreamWorks animation film was a hit with a profit of over $100 million in the box office. The film, starring Jerry Seinfeld and Renee Zellweger, consisted of a bee named Barry finding his place in his colony. During this process he did the unspeakable. He talked to a human named Vanessa. On top of that he became friends with her. This friendship led to Barry finding out the injustice that Ray Liotta committed to the bee community by gassing them and selling their honey to make himself a profit. Out of outrage for his fellow bees, he filed a lawsuit against the honey industry and won. However, in the end Barry realized that bees need to keep making honey so that they could pollinate and keep the world full of beautiful flowers.

My favorite part of the presentation of the Bee movie was the part about the internets reaction to it. I loved doing the research and finding multiple spinoff videos that sped up the movie every time the word bee was said and so on. There were also so many memes with the characters in it. However the best thing I found was the relation of the bee movie and a popular kids television show iCarly. The theory was that Barry and Vanessa (the two main characters of the Bee movie) had a child and that child was Freddie Benson from iCarly. What put the cherry on top of this theory was that the actor who played Freddie Benson in the show confirmed the theory. However, its just speculation until the producers of the movie and television show confirm the news. Its something fun to think about though.

After the presentation ended we were in for a treat. We had our first puppet show! This show was an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story Little Red Riding Hood. This show consisted of a narrator and multiple puppets made of creative pictures on sticks. The group added in a lot of cute rhymes and made sure to keep the audience on its feet. Although little red’s grandmother died in the tale, Little red escaped by bringing out a pistol from her knickers that was as big as her! Overall the show brought a lot of laughter and joy to the audience.

The second puppet show was my groups. We did Roald Dahl’s story Three Little Pigs. It paired perfectly with the first show that we watched. However this time the wolf took the form of a decorated brown paper bag and was trying to eat poor innocent pigs. The first two pigs in the story were quickly eaten by the wolf because of their lack of sensible building materials. However, the last pig was smart enough to ring up his good friend Little Red Riding hood. In the end we found out that it was not the smartest decision though, because after Little Red took care of the wolf, she turned the pig into a purse! This show tied together modern sayings and technology to add a fun twist to an older tale.

The third show was a rendition of Brothers Grimm’s version of Snow White. This group also used some fun paper bags for their characters. Like the first group, they had a narrator who told the story while the characters said a couple lines here and there. The show told us the classic tale but added in some funny lines here and there. It even ended on a happy note with the evil Queen running into the woods to die. But my favorite part of this show was the seven dwarfs made of white gloves.

To end the class we had a puppet show of The Happy Prince. This started dazzling stick figures made of felt. After discussing the story so many times in class it was nice to see it played out for us. The group did a great job performing! Even though the story is a sad one, the group managed to bring some laughs to the crowd by proclaiming the change in season while throwing up fake snow. They also made sure to lighten the mood at the end by having God place the Swallow and the Happy Prince in the garden of paradise for eternity.

Overall, class on Thursday was a great time had by all. It makes me excited to see what we have in store for us with the rest of the semester!

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A Discussion of Shrek,Urashima, Pippy, Pinocchio and more

In class on Tuesday, February 14th we started off with a presentation of the movie Shrek. The two young women told us about the widely successful fantasy/comedy film, which earned a profit of $424.4 million in the Box Office. The movie was thought to have done so well because it was the first movie done by DreamWorks that referenced other Disney movies and characters in it: such as Snow White, her seven dwarfs, the evil queen’s mirror, Pinocchio, the ginger bread man and the three little pigs.

One of the more interesting points of this presentation was that Shrek was considered a “mock” fairy-tale by critics. They said that the humor was too inappropriate for kids. This complaint does have merit because the movie serves to make a mockery of the perceptions we have about beloved characters such as Snow White. It is also a contradictory story because its moral is to not judge a book by its cover, however the characters do just that by making puns about Lord Farquaad’s height. The audience is left to wonder why they should look past the ugliness of an ogre when the height of a Lord is just as much a physical burden that one carries.

After the presentation ended, we dove into a discussion of the remaining stories from the Beauty and the Beast section of the Classical Fairy Tales book. The first story that we discussed was Urashima the Fisherman. The idea of death was extremely present in this tale, in fact is seemed as though throughout the story the main character had died three times before his heart even took its last beat. First, Urashima died when he left his everyday life in order to be with an immortal woman in her world. When he left his friends and family, he was presumed dead and if you think about it a piece of him was dead because his life would never be the same again. When Urashima started to realize that a part of him was dead/ missing, he decided to return to his world and in turn die once again. Upon returning to his old life, he discovered that everyone he had known had long passed away and no one even remembered his name. When he tried to return to his beloved he once again was met with death when he broke her promise and gave up any chance of living a long and happy life with her.

The second story to be discussed was The Frog Princess. After reading the story the class came to the conclusion that it did not quite make sense. It was as if the story had a hidden message that we could not understand. This could have been caused by an error in translation, which led to the loss of cultural understandings associated with the story. Luckily, the third story, The Swan Maiden, was not quite as confusing. In this tale a young man was desperate for the love of a swan maiden so he practically forced her to marry him. It was only years later when he showed her the object of her own affection, her swan feathers, that she was able to live her life the way she wanted. The Frog Princess and The Swan Maiden had similar plot lines, because of the transformation of a beautiful lady into an animal, however they had strikingly different endings.

Later, we talked about Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose. In this story death was once again brought up, but this time in a different light. Instead of dying because of loss of memory, the nightingale suffered a prolonged sacrificial painful death. Not many people in our class admitted to liking this story because of its bleak ending. I personally did not care for it because it talked of a nightingale giving up its life in order to help out a young boy who gives up on his love. So to put it simply it was very depressing.

In order to finish our discussion from The Classic Fairy Tales, we were reminded of Pippety Pew. This small tale from the Hansel and Gretel portion of the book brought up the question of how readers interpret repetition. In my case, I don’t tolerate it very well. Instead of reading the same thing over and over again I simply read it once and skip over it every time it pops up again. By doing this I believe that the use of the literary device is wasted, but it does make the story go by faster.

The end of our class was used to talk about Pinocchio. Because we went through so many other stories during class, there was not too much time to discuss the new story. However, we did talk about the fact that Disney’s portrayal of Pinocchio was drastically different from the true story. However it did have similar morals.

The original tale of Pinocchio describes a newly made wooden boy who is easily distracted by the here and now. This leads him to an array of difficult circumstances in which he has to choose between helping others and entertaining his immediate desires. Each chapter amusingly describes the series of events that take place on Pinocchio’s journey of becoming a loving boy. As a class we decided that these titles not only provided the audience with comical relief, they also told the summary of the chapter. I personally can’t wait to see the other adventures that Pinocchio takes throughout the rest of the book.