I can practically see the question marks: Who is Holly Clark? And what has she do with Rapunzel? And why did I put her name in brackets?
Well, the last question is easy to answer. Normally, I would not talk about her, since she is just a guest character in one episode of Grimm. But since this Advent is about good adaptions of Rapunzel, and this episode is a very good example for a modern take on it (and a Christmas-themed episode to boot), I make an exception.
Grimm is based on the idea that all fairy tales are true, and frequently adapts the better known of them into episodes. The Rapunzel episode, aptly named “Let your hair down”, featured Holly Clark (like Rapunzel she is named after a plant), who was kidnapped into the woods by a wannabe rapist as a little child. Luckily she is a Blutbad (to simplify, she is half wolf, to explain the whole world Grimm creates would be to complicated, and I think it is not really necessary to understand the gist), so she bit his attacker and he fled. Alone in the woods, she becomes feral, but survives for years, living in some sort of hidden deer stand or tree house. In this episode the hero of the show starts to search for her with his blutbad friend after she killed a dangerous drug trafficker who attacked her.
Holly in itself is not that interesting in terms of what my blog is about. She is not a bad character, and in a way, she is a heroine, because she survived despite everything which happened to her. But she is not exactly the protagonist of her story, she is barely able to communicate at all in her feral state, she is just the centre around which the story is spun.
But in terms of the Rapunzel story, this take is worth a mention. If someone would ask me what the original Fairy Tale is about, I would say it is a cautious tale that you can’t shelter your children from the world in total innocence. Considering that in the unedited version, it is made very clear that Rapunzel gets pregnant by the prince without even realizing it (this part is omitted in the current Grimm version, though the twins she gives birth to are strangely still mentioned), it might be also a warning that you should educate your children about the birds and the bees, to word it delicately. There is also a more psychological interpretation concerning the desire to control the life of your children to an unhealthy degree, to live through them. Tangled latched very much on this one, and if you go a step further, you can find a modern equivalent in all those mothers who push their daughters into the careers they always wanted for themselves.
“Let your Hair down” on the other hand focusses on the “alone in the woods” aspects of the story, and there is nothing romantic about their take on it. The hair of their Rapunzel is really tangled, it is basically one long robe, long enough to break a man’s neck with it. Holly herself is dangerous and vulnerable at the same time.
Most of the aspects of the original fairy-tale made it into the story. Holly was adopted because her birth mother was a drug addict (originally, she couldn’t resist the plants in the neighbour’s garden), she is kidnapped into the woods, she has the long hair, and her hideout looks a little bit like a tower. But there is really no sugar-coating in this version. It is a bad situation all around, and every decision made might lead to a catastrophe. Can you really bring a feral half-wolf back into society? Is there a chance that she will ever find back to her human side again? Will her adoptive mother get the best Christmas present ever?
Speaking of Christmas: I hope you’ll all have a peaceful and fun celebration. I’ll be back next week, with a more regular post.