Donkey Skin

In order to increase my existing knowledge acquired with my BA (Hons) degree in Design for Film and Television, I needed a starting point; something that I could research and design for. As mentioned previously, I found that one of the major trends in films and TV nowadays is that of Fairytales which is in part why I chose to use the story of Donkey Skin. From what I have gathered, it is not well known in the UK which, I believe, makes it all the more interesting to design for.

Therefore, here is a short outline of the story for those who may be unfamiliar with it:

A great king decides to marry his own daughter after his beloved wife passes away. She agrees on the condition that he fulfils several requests she believes impossible. When he manages to give her everything she asked for, including the skin of the donkey the king cherishes so much, she runs away. Disguised as a commoner with the donkey’s skin, she travels through kingdoms to find work and a roof eventually settling into a farmhouse. One day, a prince spots her in one of her most beautiful dresses and is breath taken by her beauty. After asking around for information on the beautiful woman living in the farmhouse, he learns her name is Donkey Skin, a repulsive peasant said to carry all kinds of illnesses. But the prince does not believe the lies and requests that she bakes a cake for him. The princess does, but intentionally drops her ring in the mixture for him to find. He decides to marry the woman whose finger can fit the ring. Nobles and peasants alike try but fail until only Donkey Skin is left. When the ring fits her, she reveals she is a princess. The wedding is held and they live happily ever after.

The original text, written by Charles Perrault (famous for his other fairytales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or Little Red Riding Hood) was written in verse. Although most of the translations I have read differ in several ways, here is a link to a very complete version of the whole story:

It is important however, to keep in mind that the story itself is not particularly interesting to a designer; its potential for design on the other hand is what really matters. A fairy tale story is interesting to design for: while it still occurs in a fantasy world, it needs to have similar aspects to our own as their primary purposes is to teach us lessons via morals. The reader/viewer needs to be able to identify themselves to the characters.

Although one might argue that it would be difficult to export such a film across borders for audiences around the world because of the theme of incest, I highly doubt this would be a cause for concern. Nowadays a lot of films are violent or provocative yet famous worldwide. There is no real violence in Donkey Skin (apart from the death of the donkey perhaps) and the main issue is the notion of incest. Game of Thrones is a worldwide famous TV show and is watched by audiences all around the world yet let’s not forget that two of the main characters, are not only brother and sister but also lovers. Their relationship is not only mentioned but also shown onscreen. Therefore, I feel that sensitive subjects, although uncomfortable, will not condemn a film or show, as other things happen; and it seems that nowadays, it takes a lot more than an incestuous relationship to dissuade an audience from watching a program, not only visually attractive but also with interesting and well woven story lines.



Kristin. 2011. Donkeyskin: The reality of child abuse. Tales of Faerie. [online blog] 28th March. Available at: [accessed December 2013]


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