Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Folk Heritage of Fantasia

I'm sure we've all watched and enjoyed Fantasia at some point, haven't we? The star of the show, without a doubt, is Disney's own Mickey Mouse in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, based on a poem by the famous German writer Goethe.

It is the story of a foolish young apprentice who decides to mess around with his master's book of magic, and ends up getting himself into danger; luckily his master arrives in the nick of time and is able to save him from drowning.

I was rather surprised to come across this story as part of Joseph Jacob's collection of English Fairy Tales, under the heading The Master and His Pupil. It is the same basic story, except that instead of the apprentice enchanting a broom, he accidentally summons the Devil and has to set him tasks to avoid being strangled. In a panic, the apprentice tells the Devil to water a flower, but he keeps bringing barrel after barrel of water into the home and flooding the house. Just when the water level is about to rise above the apprentice's chin, the master comes home and sends the Devil back where he came from.

Jacobs published his collection in 1890 and states that his source is an 1866 collection of traditional folk tales from the Northern counties of England (Yorkshire is named in the text). Goethe's poem was published a hundred years earlier. It will never cease to amaze me how far through space and time these stories have travelled.

1 comment:

  1. Yikes I haven't watched Fantasia all the way through and haven't seen it in a really long time. I also never knew that famous scene was based on a story! I've got some catching up to do :)