Going into Season 5, we at Saturday Morning Cartoons wanted to take some time to supply some potential discussion questions that you can consider over the course of the series. We think it's important to continue film education not just in the theater, but at home as well. Since our cessation of our in-person post-film discussions, we thought it would be nice for you to have an online resource to refer to.
If you go to one or all of our screenings this season, you may notice there is a particular theme that the curators had in mind for Season 5: fairy tales, folklore, myth, and legends. This is an enduring theme in animation that crosses all cultures, so the picks for the 2019-2020 season seek to showcase different approaches to fairy tale/folklore adaptation across international canons.
Below are a few questions to get you started thinking about the ways the films across the 2019-2020 season connect to one another, and to animated films and TV series you see on Netflix or Disney+ at home.
Taichi from Chihayafuru 2^^
📺 Why do you think re-interpreting folklore and fairy tales is so popular in animation? Consider this question in regards to both film and TV adaptations, and try to think of examples.
📺 What is the difference between a myth or legend and a fairy tale? Do you think this distinction is important? If so, why?
📺 Think of a popular fairy tale or legend. (For example, Jack and the Beanstalk.) Can you think of how many adaptations have been made of that single work? How many of those are animated or in some illustrated form? Grab a parent and a computer to confirm your hypothesis.
📺 How do the films presented in this series approach fairy tales differently than American Disney films such as Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and others? Compare and contrast the house Disney style versus the different styles presented in this season of Saturday Morning Cartoons.
📺 If you were to make an animated film based on a fairy tale or legend from your own culture, what would you choose?
📺 What role should we assign the term "cultural appropriation" to our understanding of fairy tales interpreted by filmmakers from different cultural origins than their source material? Given the history of animation, should this concern be weighed when we look back at older films?
📺 Tales of the Night and Tales of Prince Achmed are clearly drawn from the historically European fascination with the Arabian Nights (AKA One Thousand and One Nights). How do you think they approach the material differently than, say, in Disney's Aladdin? In what ways are they similar?
📺 Do you think that White Europeans and Americans create caricatures or disrespectful interpretations of classical Middle Eastern folk tales? Does modern animation continue to propagate the aesthetics of orientalism?
How do you think someone from the Islamic Golden Age would feel about these animated adaptations of their folk tales? Take a look online and see what modern Middle Eastern people think, or if you are Middle Eastern yourself, write your own opinion and post it online to start a dialogue.
📺 White Snake is an adaptation of a very famous Chinese folktale, as is the film Uproar in Heaven, which you can watch here. Both are adaptations of Chinese fairy tales by Chinese filmmakers. How do these films approach their historical/cultural content differently from films made by an outsider looking in? Are these films more "authentic"? What is cultural authenticity?
📺 Pom Poko is a re-imagining of the tanuki in Japanese folklore, creating a unique modern story stemming from old local legends of the famous trickster-shapeshifter yokai (supernatural figure/spirit/monster). What are some other Japanese anime that use yokai as inspiration for creating new stories? (For example, Inu Yasha.) Is there an American equivalent of a cultural figure or popular character from American folklore that is used to create new stories riffing off of the source material?
Thanks so much for reading! Hope to see you soon.