Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Golden Book Richard Scarry VHS: Part 2: The Bremen Town Musicians

Okay, so in my last post, I was talking about the "Richard Scarry's Old MacDonald's Farm and Other Stories" VHS. I talked about the adaptation of "The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" that was on it. Today, I'm going to talk about the other fairy tale that was on it; "The Bremen Town Musicians."

Now, once again, this was my introduction to this story, so I kind of have a nostalgic feeling for it. This doesn't take as many liberties as "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" did, but it still has quite a few differences.

I'm going to start by giving the plot of the Brothers Grimm tale.

A donkey, dog, cat, and rooster get away from their abusive owners, and head off toward the city of Bremen to become musicians. At night, they look for a place to rest, and discover the home of a band of robbers. They stand on top of each other and scare them away. They enter the house and fall asleep. One of the robbers returns to the house to investigate, and the animals attack him. He can't see very well in the dark and mistakes them for monsters. He runs away and tells his companions. They are scared, and run away, never to return. The animals decide they like the house so much at they stay there, and never go to Bremen.

Now, the funny thing about this story is that all of the humans in this story are antagonists. The animals are having to leave their abusive owners, and the robbers are humans. However, there are a few versions of this story that feature a human protagonists. In these versions, the human accompanies the animals on their journey, and they help him out. So, that's kind of interesting.

The plot of the story can vary too. Sometimes, there's hardly any plot, and it just states, "a donkey went on a journey, and he met a dog, and then they met a cat, etc." Sometimes, it has more of a plot, like the Grimm version does. The ending varies sometimes too. I've always preferred the ending where the robber thinks the animals are monsters, because it's always made me laugh. Especially how he thinks the rooster's "cock-doodle-doo" is "kill the robber, do!" LOL!

In other versions, the robber is able to see the animals, and knows what they are, and they end up killing him by tossing him back and forth. Sometimes, all the robbers return to the house and get killed! In some versions where the protagonist is a human, he takes the robber's stolen goods back to their rightful owners, and is rewarded with riches.

This story has still remained basically the same though. And you can actually see this statue in Bremen that's based on the story:

Now to talk about the Richard Scarry version.

At the point when this version was written, Scarry had stopped putting humans into his stories, and instead made all of the characters animals, which is kind of cool. So, in this version, instead of the animals running away from abusive owners, they are simply bored with the jobs they have at home, and long to become famous.

Of  course, the robbers are all animals also. One of them is the fox from Scarry's version of "Gingerbread Man," and another is the wolf from "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids" and "Three Little Pigs." Or, at least they look just like them.

Also, in a notable difference from the Grimm version, the animals don't actually realize that the men in the house are actually robbers in the Richard Scarry version. Instead, they think they are "friendly folk." And they end up scaring them away by accident, rather than on purpose, as they are trying to get invited in. They don't know what scared them away, and decide to wait in the house until they return, so that they can meet them. When one of the robbers returns to the house, they don't recognize him from before, and think that he's come to rob the house of the "friendly folk." So they attack him. The next morning, they notice that the "friendly folk" still haven't returned. They are afraid that the "robber" might return, so they agree to stay at the house to keep it safe and tidy until the "friendly folk" return. And since they never do return, and the animals never find out that they were robbers, they end up staying at the house forever. But they are content now, and live together happily.

Honestly, I don't know which version of the story I like better. They are both really cute stories about animals who go on a journey. And the moral of both versions is the same: You don't need to be rich and famous. What matters is having a nice house and a family.

I honestly can't decide whether I prefer the Grimm or the Richard Scarry version.

Which version of "Bremen Town Musicians" do YOU prefer?


  1. The animals still wanting to go to Bremen, even though the story is very clearly set in the US South, wasa little unintentionally funny.^^

    I think Scarry's version was a good adapatation, but nlike the Wolf and the Seven Little Kids, this one wasn't as entertaining for adults. Especially the song in the beginingwas too repetitive for me. I also missed the theme of gaining indepence, the moral of the Scarry version played it very safe. Still interesting to see different artist's takes on these old stories. As a kid, I would have probably liked this version a lot.

    1. LOL! I never thought about the American setting before! That IS funny!

      I will agree that the song got repetitive after a while. The robber song was pretty catchy though. But yeah, the other two stories on the video were a lot more entertaining.