One of the major differences between the Brothers Grimm version and the MGM version of Hansel and Gretel is the mother. In the Brothers Grimm version of Hansel and Gretel, the kid’s father had remarried. This was common in this time period because most mothers died during childbirth however in the MGM version of Hansel and Gretel the mother is not their stepmother but their real mother.
Another difference between the Grimm version and movie is that the kids get sent to the forest not because there is no way to feed them but because they accidently let the donkey in the house and it ate the food their mother had just prepared. When their mother returns from picking berries she finds them ‘playing’ with the donkey and she sends them to the forest to pick berries. They however only go to the forest once and do not find their way home but to the witches house. Where as in the story the mother and father take the kids out into the forest because the mother fears she will not have enough food to feed herself let alone two children and her husband. They find their way home but are taken out again and are unable to find their way home a second time. The mother is portrayed in the Grimm version as conceded and selfish.
When the kids find their way to the witches house they are not guided by a dove like they are in the Grimm’s story. The witch takes care of them just as she does in the story however Gretel discovers she is a witch in the middle of the night unlike in the story where the witch tells them. In the story the witch is not involved with much magic, where as in the movie the witch uses her magic to put the kids in a trance and other things. In the end of the movie being pushed into the oven like she is in the story is not the witch’s cause of death. Gretel steals her ‘magic cane’ and uses the witch’s magic against her by having her switch places with Hansel who is hanging on a rope. They then drop her into the oven.
The final difference is the children are led across a river in the Grimm story by a white duck. In the movie that does not happen.
I believe the directors did this because they wanted to make it more appealing to not only kids but also adults. The Brothers Grimm made the stepmother in the story seem evil, selfish, and conceded. The directors probably didn’t want kids to be afraid that their parents would take them out into the forest to die if the family’s money was running low, so they made the mother look as if she was mad and having them do another chore. Overall it was to make money and make it seem more kid appropriate.