Emerging Talent: Thomas Czarnecki’s Dead Disney Princesses — A Morbid Twist on Childhood Classics

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Disney movies are an integrated part of childhood for most Westernized culture, to the point where if someone is presented with a picture of any of the “princesses” they can immediately identify them. These princesses are a clearly engrained part of our youth culture, visions of feminine charm and reworked classic fairy tales. But what happens when instead of showing these fictional women as beautiful shining figures, you surround them with filth and death? Click through the tabs images above to see examples of just that – the work of Thomas Czarnecki.

The French photographer’s stunning series “From Enchantment to Down” caught my eye and I asked him to elaborate about this innovative and shocking photoset – this is what he had to say:

“I like the darkness aesthetics, I was always been attracted by the world of movies like David Fincher’s Seven or Tim Burton and David Lynch. In photography I’ve found inspiration in many: Eugenio Recuenco, David Lachapelle, Guy Bourdin or my friends Olvier Foulon and Olivier Lecerf – [these] are only a few.  Obviously, many an inspiration comes from the digital world, the web, and I can surf for hours going through many a visual adventure that I take inside of me. Each photo takes a long time to achieve, it is sometimes a bit frustrating but that’s how it goes. Finding time between a job and social life is very complicated. I wish I could devote myself entirely to photography but it is unfortunately not possible at this time, but I don’t despair! 

The theme of this series is universal. The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland… So many Disney characters embedded in the collective culture as sweet and innocent creatures that I decided to get out of their recognized fairy-tale frame and universe.  I staged these same childhood heroes face against the ground and by doing so, create something of clash and culture shock between on one side the naive universe and the innocence of the fairy tales as such and confront them to the other side: a much darker reality that is as much part of our common culture and which is provided to us, incessantly through the darker side and imagery broadcasted through tv, cinema and others. I think it is this comparison that resonates universally in people and generates interest. I leave nothing to chance, each image is fully thought before every shot. I make several preparatory drawings that take into account the location, the light and the position of the character to reach the final image. Sometimes you have to make some small adjustments on the shoot, as removing accessories provided which ultimately do not bring much to the story or find a somewhat more natural for the model but in the end most of the images can be practically superimposed on the original drawing.”


Check out more of Thomas Czarnecki’s work HERE

28 Responses to Emerging Talent: Thomas Czarnecki’s Dead Disney Princesses — A Morbid Twist on Childhood Classics

  1. Saboodemoyen August 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    you know i might be being old fashioned but i really dislike this, he says in his interview thingy that there are two worlds – innocent and naive and the hard, truthful world, i think that those should stay separate, maybe i’m just being stupid but i just find these upsetting

  2. Denver Photographer August 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    Morbid is right. It’s good work, can’t deny that.

  3. Amy August 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    I dig it.

    These fairy tales aren’t all that innocent anyway once you go beyond the surface into their subversive meanings. In fact, that would make an interesting shoot: Snow White at a party with a face full of cocaine, Alice tripping on mushrooms, etc. Perhaps I’ll put it on my to-do list.

    If you WERE to take these stories at face value – ie. innocent fairy tales – they aren’t great lessons to be teaching kids. The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast are all about Prince Charming coming to save the day. No room for independent ladies there.

    At any rate, they’re very well executed. I like the nod to Se7en with the air fresheners in the Sleeping Beauty scene.

  4. Landry Major August 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    I am really tired of seeing dead women, or violence against women in fashion photography. Great lighting or not, it’s
    anti women. Being disturbing is a cheap way of getting attention. Do not like it at all…..

    • faisal August 21, 2012 at 8:17 am #

      I totally agree. this needs to be reduced.

    • Dave August 21, 2012 at 8:35 am #


    • Cynthia Wood August 22, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      I am so NOT a fan of “dead girl photography” (which is, unfortunately, very prevalent — particularly in the fashion world).

      It’s unsettling to me (to put it mildly) –even after years of seeing it in advertisements and fashion spreads– that images of women who are face down and/or appear to have been raped and/or murdered are seen as anything short of disturbing. This kind of imagery is harmful to both women and men, as it would seem to encourage, or at least condone, violence against women. There is nothing ‘glamorous’ about rape, murder or even death.

      • Alan August 28, 2012 at 3:20 am #

        Agreed. God. What the fluck is wrong with people these days.

    • Alan August 28, 2012 at 3:24 am #

      “Being disturbing is a cheap way of getting attention”

      “Do not like it at all…..”

      “Great lighting or not, it’s (pretty much just thinly disguised) anti women (sentiment)”

  5. Lindsey Huss August 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    I love it! Something most people don’t realize is that these classic tales have been “cleaned up” in a sense for children. I feel like these photos bring back the darkness that’s already in these stories that most people do not see because of how Disney portrays them. I also really enjoy dark twists on things, especially in artwork. Great work!

  6. Cassie August 21, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    I like it, the dark and the depth, the storm in the background, beautiful and morbid at the same time.

  7. Nick Roberts August 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Reminisent of Les Krim’s “stack of wheat cakes murders”…..

  8. M.Peralta August 23, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    This isn’t art. This is someone’s fantasy. For the people who have approved of this they have probably forgotten that these are childrens fairy tales. It’s about a little girl or boy seeing one of these cartoons and placing themeselves there by either being the valiant prince or the princess who lives in a giant castle. It always takes a demented and sick mind to damage that what is innocent. Hey Lindsey Huss. Regarding your comment “I feel like these photos bring back the darkness that’s already in these stories that most people do not see because of how Disney portrays them. “. You’re such an idiot. Darkness in the stories? Only those that are dark will see darkness in a cartoon like the little mermaid. You’re sick too… and closed minded. It’s bad enough that our children are being kindapped by monsters, real monsters to do unimaginable things, and now this. Sorry, You don’t impress me one bit.

    • Alan August 28, 2012 at 3:21 am #

      “You’re sick too… and closed minded. It’s bad enough that our children are being kindapped by monsters, real monsters to do unimaginable things, and now this. Sorry, You don’t impress me one bit.”


  9. don August 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    I personally don’t care much for the “dead girl” type photos either.

    However, I do appreciate the artistry that causes people to have such strong emotions praising or condemning the photos. In that regard, the photographer has succeeded in creating art.

  10. Anonymous August 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    Many of the classic fairy tales did not have happy endings

    • Alan August 28, 2012 at 3:22 am #

      Many of the classic laws did not recognize certain races as more than 3/5ths of a person, That still doesn’t make it okay, moral, or a good option to go.

      • Megan August 28, 2012 at 7:41 am #

        laws and stories are completely different, so you’re argument is weak.

        • Megan August 28, 2012 at 7:42 am #

          shoot. your*********

  11. KB August 28, 2012 at 4:50 am #

    Czarnecki’s images may be technically proficient however his subject matter and composition serves to shock without providing commentary. His statement comes off as egotistical without illuminating why the princesses have been brutalized. Is there something about ourselves or our society that the viewer is suppose to gleen? I come away feeling sicken that staged images of sexually violated and murdered females is a new twist on the objectification of women. Enough. Don’t leave your viewers at the scene of the crime, helplessly looking at the corpses of fairytale heroines. Violence against women isn’t make believe.

    • Bethani J. December 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

      “Violence against women isn’t make believe” I agree completely.
      I could have bought into the idea of bringing these children’s heroes to a despicable end if it was to educate or draw attention to a problem that most girls are kept “blissfully” unaware of, but from his statement I just feel like he is using these images to assert some kind of creative elitism and being shocking for the sake of it. Not a worth while project in my mind.

  12. stephanie August 28, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    i really like the idea but he could have put more detail into some of the shots. there were a couple that i was unsure of.

  13. DanielKphoto August 28, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Beautiful serie of photos and a nice idea. Good work

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