Chicken Little (mostly America) is also known as Chicken Licken or Henny Penny (mostly Britain).
I hope the current generation of children don’t grow up thinking the 2005 animated movie version of Chicken Little has much to do with earlier versions of this story. The movie log line sounds okay on paper:
“After ruining his reputation with the town, a courageous chicken must come to the rescue of his fellow citizens when aliens start an invasion”
But tonally, this Disney production is loud, bright and frenetic. The natural ‘opponent’ of the acorn has been turned into the more interesting and formidable aliens in order to sustain a movie length story. Against that tone, the frenzy of Chicken Little himself is absorbed rather than emphasised. Further than that I can’t comment, as I find the movie entirely unwatchable.
Then again, am I really advocating for the continued teaching of the moral of Chicken Little? What does this fable teach us, really?
It’s funny — we all grow up on a diet of stories about the lone voice of reason trying to warn everyone about some imminent calamity, from Noah to Jor-El, and instinctively side with this hero and despite the ignorant ovine masses who jeer him or try to silence him. And yet whenever such a person appears in real life, our reflex is to join in with the mobs of scoffers and call them alarmists, hysterics, conspiracy freaks, and doomsayers.
— Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing
Which stories is Kreider talking about? My first thought is Chicken Little, but in fact it doesn’t come under that umbrella because Chicken Little turns out to be wrong about the sky falling. We are urged to laugh at him, though I maintain his punishment is a little harsh.
STORY STRUCTURE OF CHICKEN LITTLE
Chicken Little is a cumulative tale — you know, the kind you get sick of reading to your kid unless the wordplay is excellent. The ending is tragic, depending on how kind you feel towards foxes. In any cases, we’re not really encouraged to side with the birds, so when they die it kind of feels like just desserts for them. Continue reading “Chicken Little, Cassandra and Modern Horror”