The door flew open, in he ran, the tall long-legged Scissors-Man!
November 3, 2013 4:59 AM   Subscribe

Shockheaded Peter (Struwwelpeter, Wikipedia), the classic 19th century German children's book of cautionary tales and grim fates, has been brought to deranged life through simple yet strange animation. posted by BiggerJ (26 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Warning: unpleasantly noisy start to the animation.
posted by sciencegeek at 5:41 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mind you, all of Struwwelpeter is unpleasant, so I think we'd expect that sort of thing.
posted by scruss at 5:47 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I thused to have a copy of the book and no way are my kids going to get one. It's awful. It's like everything that's horrible in The White Band distilled for kids.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:23 AM on November 3, 2013

We have two German copies of Struwwelpeter and one English one. One of the german ones is a board book, implying that it's appropriate for children under 3.
posted by 256 at 6:33 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I... kind of enjoyed Struwwelpeter as a child.

I especially liked the surprisingly-attentive cats who cried a river of tears when the little pyromaniac did not heed their well-intentioned advice. They are not very realistic cats, to be sure, but the Scissor-Man doesn't really look like that, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:34 AM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

I don't think there's anything wrong with kids enjoying the stories. There really is an innocent joy to be had, watching the suffering of bad characters, that befits the unsubtle morality kids have.

On the other hand, this particular edition is kind of gross, creating new, weirdly sexualized illustrations that miss the line that exists between sadism and naughtiness appropriately (in terms of this fantasy world) punished.
posted by mittens at 6:41 AM on November 3, 2013

The Tiger Lillies did a wonderfully twisted stage/cabaret version of this story.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:42 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I saw the Tiger Lillies stage adaptation and wish very hard that there was a DVD of the show available. It was totally wonderful.
posted by merocet at 6:49 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

There really is an innocent joy to be had, watching the suffering of bad characters

They're not bad characters, though. They're only fidgety and way too curious, as kids are. So they get burnt or get their limbs cut off. Don't get me wrong, I understand the paedagogical intention but I still hated that book (and yeah, I had the board book edition too, as a kid!).
posted by Omnomnom at 6:52 AM on November 3, 2013

In fact here's what seems to be the only existing video of the Tiger Lillies version. It's the full thing filmed by an amateur in the audience. Not great quality but it gives an idea of the greatness of the show.
posted by merocet at 6:54 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

no way are my kids going to get one. It's awful.

It's on a par with the truculence of another German super-classic, Wilhelm Busch's "drama in three acts" Max und Moritz (gutenberg pdf, spoken&illustrated). We grew up with both; once out of kindergarten, our anti-authoritarian parents eventually got us a copy of genius illustrator F.K. Waechter's Anti-Struwwelpeter, to compare/contrast.
posted by progosk at 7:33 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

That scene with the narrator admonishing to pull it out comrade, pull it out as fast as you can? That was like some weird early withdrawal birth control method being urged.

posted by angrycat at 8:14 AM on November 3, 2013

Snipping, snipping, snipping goes the scissor man, put end to evildoer's games.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:20 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Back in the 1960s, my grandfather made his one and only visit to us in Canada from his home in Frankfurt. My mother was delighted when he presented me with an English translation of Struwwelpeter. My mother had enjoyed the book as a child in Germany and now here I could have the same thing that gave her so much pleasure!

For me, who read the Grimm Brothers avidly and so was not particularly sensitive to horror stories, the entire book was nightmare fuel. I clicked on the animation link above and instantly closed it again, experiencing some kind of flashback terror. It's going to take 20 minutes of cute kitten videos to recover.

Mind you, I loved another of my mum's favourite authors, Erich Kästner, read everything of his I could find in English, and read his Emil and the Detectives to my own kids.
posted by angiep at 9:09 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

My (Baltic German) mother had a copy of Max und Moritz when I was little. It has images in it that are burned into my brain. Including that ones about the time they put pins into a cake and watching an old woman eat it.

I can't even cope with the memory of this image. I can still FEEL IT IN THE BACK OF MY THROAT.

I'm glad she didn't happen to have Strewwelpeter hanging around. The therapy bill would have been outrageous.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:14 AM on November 3, 2013

Sniiiip sniiiiiiiiip!


I saw the Tiger Lilies version in Londom about ten years ago. It was the most natural pairing of stage and music I've ever seen. And fairy tales aren't meant to be nice, I don't think. They lose something if they are. They come from the old woods of central Europe, where the wolves are real and the winter will kill you and no one will be there to put out your house if it catches fire. The better our society works, the more we need them to be dark and unsettling.
posted by cromagnon at 9:59 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I made my stage debut in a Sunday School production of Die Geschichte vom Zappel-Philipp, the kid who fidgeted until he fell over and pulled the table cloth and all the dishes off the table. I was the only kid in the class whose voice had changed, so I got the father's line, "Philipp, das gefällt mir sehr!"
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 10:00 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

The animation is fun, but man, that narrator is crap.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:22 AM on November 3, 2013

I too enjoyed the book as a kid. Years ago I came across this live version which is creepy as hell, and something I like to have looping on a TV during a party.
posted by plantbot at 10:38 AM on November 3, 2013

I showed this to my kids this morning. They were entranced and horrified. The "don't play with matches" one was the best.

I thought the narration was actually pretty genius.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:45 AM on November 3, 2013

I first encountered this thanks to Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol. Another thing I owe/ him.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:03 AM on November 3, 2013

Nursery rhyme narration? Abrasive music? Grotesque animation?

Feels very Residents. [nsfw-ish]
posted by modernserf at 12:47 PM on November 3, 2013

Vielen Dank! Learned a new German word from this: Struwwelpetriaden: adaptations of the work.
posted by vkxmai at 3:27 PM on November 3, 2013

I was raised with this, Max & Moritz and other classic German tales and I'm completely norbal.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:40 PM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Good grief, those were weird! Two (chopped-off) thumbs up.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:10 PM on November 3, 2013

@merocet: I saw that show live, back in 2001, and it was SO AMAZING AND WEIRD. We actually missed the afternoon show we had tickets for due to totally-missing-the-road-sign and getting-hopelessly-lost-on-the-way-there shenanigans, and the Tiger Lillies and theater were amazingly gracious in replacing our tickets so that we could see the evening show instead.

Also Struwwelpeter is the reason I am SO GLAD I took high school German because it's always fun to learn that your teacher is COMPLETELY DERANGED. Also, I am very very glad I first was exposed to it at like 15 rather than at like... 4. Shudder.
posted by augustimagination at 10:30 AM on November 4, 2013

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