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What were the Original Literary Stories Which Inspired the Disney Classics?

Since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Disney has made another 56 feature films. The much-loved family cartoons have gone down in history, and some of them have been highly memorable. A lot of the stories which were adapted for cinema audiences originated in folklore and fables. Here are some of the stories which served as inspiration for some of the best Disney Movies.

Beauty and the Beast

Disney had wanted to make Beauty and the Beast for many years, but finally managed to create the movie in 1991. The Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise-directed picture was based on the 1940 book of the same name by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve. The fairy tale was written at the cusp of the French Revolution, and Belle was written in protest as only the wealthier classes were permitted to read.

Aside from the Disney film, there have been various adaptations and other things which were inspired by the French book. Indeed, there have been 12 cinematic offerings, four television series, and games including Mystery Legends: Beauty and the Beast.


The 1992 offering, Aladdin, was inspired by the Arabic folktale, One Thousand and One Nights. The title was written during the Islamic Golden Age in the 1700s, and was a collected work over numerous centuries. All the stories within stem from an initial frame story and are often intertwined and related, much like the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are today.

This ancient text has not only gone on to inspire the film which was recently remade by Guy Ritchie, it has also influenced other things in popular culture. For example, the slot games A Ladd n’ a Lamp and Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves at Buzz Bingo both drew aspects from the Islamic book. It has also been prevalent in other sections of the gaming industry, with Prince of Persia and Crash Bandicoot: Warped being two well-known examples.

Sleeping Beauty

The 1959 offering, Sleeping Beauty, was the 16th Disney animated feature film, but the last one based on a fairy tale until The Little Mermaid in 1989. This is one of the earliest known tales to have been adapted for cinema, with the original work found in Percheforest which was created somewhere between 1330 and 1344. It was later published by Giambattista Basile in The Pentamerone in 1634.

This iconic story is one of the most adapted fairy tales ever, and has been made into various films and television series. Some of the most notable productions to have been inspired by it include Maleficent in 2014 and the TV series, Once Upon a Time on Netflix. Some of the games to use Sleeping Beauty elements include Kingdom Hearts and Dark Parables.

Fairytales and other folk stories have been a great source of ideas over the years for Disney and television series creators, as well as game developers. Any writers bereft of good ideas could look to these ancient texts for inspiration.


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Written by Nat Sauteed

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