It is very rare for a movie to be identical to its original story. Sure there can be a similar plot line and similar characters, but there are often differences in details. This is the case with the Brothers Grimm Hansel and Gretel and the MGM cinematic version
The MGM movie was based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but it had many differences and ventured away from the original tale. One difference that can be noted is the tale around the village that kids were disappearing into the haunted forest. Hansel and Gretel, in the movie, are not taken into the woods by the father. Their mother sends them to get berries and they are sent out into the forest only once compared to twice in the original Grimm fairy tale. The children make a trail with cookie crumbs instead of breadcrumbs. One of the biggest differences in the film is that the mom wants the kids to live when she thinks they went into the haunted forest. She exclaims she doesn’t know what she would do if something happened to her kids. She also doesn’t die in the end. The father goes in search of the kids. There was also a music element whereas in the tale there was no music. The father and the witch are given names. These differences are mainly all in detail, which had to be added to provide a cinematic appeal.
There are a few similarities between the movie and the original tale. The similarities are found in the plot line. The family is poverty-stricken and there is nothing to eat. The mother is strict and mean and the father is protective of his children. The children try to find their way home but find a house made out of candy. There is similar symbolism in the house as it represents their greed and hunger. The witch has the same intention to eat Hansel. Gretel, in both, kills the witch; the witch dies the same way that she was going to kill Hansel. This expresses the idea that evil consumes itself. The kids receive an award for killing the witch, which makes the family rich. The similarities help preserve the message of the original fairy tale.
The movie directors made these differences for several different reasons. One of the most obvious being that a five and a half page story cannot take up 90 minutes. In a movie, characters need to have more depth and there needs to be a lot more detail. The directors also need to find a way to appeal to a larger audience in order to make a profit from the film.
My favorite part in the MGM version of Hansel and Gretel is when the witch, Greselda, reads to the children the story of Briar Rose before bed. It is an ironic scene since we just read that fairy tale last week. It made me laugh out loud.