Good bye Hansel, good bye Gretel

Before I start a new conversation with Claude about some other fairy tale - probably Little Red Riding Hood - let's just have a quick look at something completely different. Specifically, different time, place and format. As people have been amazed by generative AI to various degrees, there's been suggestions of using them to create books, like children's books, and that's actually similar to what's been done in the blog. On the other hand, maybe AI could write TV series or movies. Well, it obviously won't stop there, AI should be able to eventually do the whole thing, from conception to the finished product. But will it be any good, will it be original?

Ok maybe that's a bigger question for another day - right now the answer just might be too obvious.

So, what if Hansel and Gretel took place in New York? And we wanted to make it into a movie? Well, first we'd need a screenplay. Taxi Driver is on of my favourite movies to take place in New York, and while it's not written by Martin Scorsese, he seemed an appropriate choice for the style of the story script. 



We pan across a bustling inner city neighborhood. Kids play streetball, shouting echoes from windows. This is a place where you grow up fast.

The Bronx. New York City's roughest borough. An unforgiving place where the weak get crushed.

We focus on an apartment complex with peeling paint and overflowing dumpsters.

Here lives the Torres family - Diego, his kids GABY and little RICO, and Diego's new lady, CARLA. Ever since the kids' mama died of an overdose, it's been tough going for the Torreses...real tough.


13 year old GABY serves up watery beans and rice as her father DIEGO shuffles in, shoulders slumped with exhaustion. He collapses into a chair.

No luck today Pop?

DIEGO (shaking his head)
It's dire out there baby girl. Jobs are scarce as too many rats and not enough garbage.

Gaby sighs, her skinny shoulders sagging. She seems to carry the weight of this struggling household all on her own.

Gaby does what she can to keep the family going. But that's about to get a whole lot harder...


From her fold-out couch, Gaby overhears Diego arguing with his girlfriend CARLA through the apartment's thin walls.

You gotta face facts Diego. We can't afford to feed those kids no more! We got to cut 'em loose.

Jesus Christ Carla! I can't just abandon my own children...

Gaby listens in horror, realising Carla's proposing they leave her and Rico to fend for themselves.


Under an elevated subway line, Diego leads the kids along the sidewalk, unable to meet their eyes.

Looking determined, Gaby discreetly drops bits of gravel from the apartment driveway as they go, marking their path.

But Gaby ain't no chump. She leaves a trail of rocks so they can find their way back.

When Diego finally stops at a chain-link fence by the park, he pulls the kids into a tearful hug then hurries off without looking back, utterly ashamed.

Soon as he's gone, Gaby grabs Rico's hand and they carefully follow the gravel trail back to the apartment building.


As Gaby and Rico creep upstairs, CARLA watches bitterly from her apartment window, eyes narrowed with impotent rage.

Course Carla ain't too thrilled the kids made it back. But if there's one thing she understands, it's survival of the fittest. And she aims to come out on top.


The next morning at the crack of dawn, Carla marches Gaby and Rico through a remote part of the park far from the playgrounds and fields.

No messin' around today, you hear? Keep movin'!

When Diego leaves them by a nature trail deep in the wilderness, Gaby rips open a hot dog bun and drops pieces of it stealthily as they walk.

So Gaby leaves a trail of breadcrumbs. But those crumbs attract ants and birds.

Sure enough, swarms of bugs and birds soon devour every speck of the breadcrumb trail.

Lost in the massive park, Gaby and Rico wander for days, struggling to survive on foraged mushrooms and rainwater.

Just as it seems hopeless, a pure white dove appears overhead. Gaby's eyes fill with gratitude.

Praise the Lord above! Rico, we gotta follow that bird - I think it wants to help.

RICO nods, looking scared but resolute.

The dove leads them even deeper into the overgrown woods. They push through brambles that slash their skin, trusting their new guide.

Eventually they stumble into a gloomy clearing. There sits a ramshackle cottage that appears to be made of candy and cake.

Famished, they immediately start devouring the exterior walls. As Gaby gnaws through licorice, the cottage door creaks open.

There stands an impossibly ancient CRONE, her face a landscape of wrinkles. She grins with rotten teeth.

Well dip me in honey and throw me to the lesbians! What treasures have stumbled into my abode?

The children freeze, mouths still sticky with candy.

Like a demon straight from hell, this witch had appeared. And for Gaby and Rico, the real nightmare was just beginning...

The crone beckons a bony finger. Around her neck hangs a pendant with the symbol of an occult-looking eye.

Come in my pretties...I hope you're feeling hungry.

Rico whimpers as the cackling crone approaches. Gaby steps protectively in front of him as we... CUT TO BLACK.


The crone serves Gaby and Rico a feast of glazed ham, macaroni and cheese, and other foods these underfed kids have never tasted.

They devour it anxiously as she looks on with an unnerving smile.

(laughing) Yes, eat it all up my dears! Don't want to waste a single bite.

Afterward, she shows them to two beds with soft quilts and plump pillows. They sink in gratefully, exhausted from their ordeal.

You can stay here forever! I'll be your new mama from now on.

She kisses their foreheads with strange tenderness before leaving them to sleep.

As soon as she's gone, Gaby turns to Rico looking worried.

Somethin' ain't right with this lady. We best sneak away first chance we get.

Rico nods uncertainly. But soon both kids drift off into the deepest slumber they've had in ages.

If only Gaby had stayed awake a while longer...


Gaby wakes abruptly to the CRONE dragging a crying Rico away down the dark hall. Before she can react, the crone returns and seizes her too.

Did you think you could just eat my house then flee into the night? I don't take kindly to thieves.

She flings Gaby into a barred cell beside Rico. They grasp the bars as she hobbles off cackling.

Fatten up nicely my dears. For soon I shall feast!


  • The crone force feeding Rico fattening sweets while starving Gaby.
  • Rico growing round and lethargic as Gaby wastes away.
  • The crone examining a weak and emaciated Rico with a cruel smile.

Perfectly plump and juicy now!

This witch was fattening Rico up like a Christmas goose. But Gaby wasn't ready to give up the fight just yet...


The crone commands Gaby to light the oven to cook Rico. Thinking fast, Gaby pretends she can't operate the lighter.

Dang technology! How does this newfangled thing work?

When the crone shows her, Gaby shoves her inside and slams the door!

Sayonara, witchy woman!

Gaby grabs keys off the table and frees Rico. They escape into the gloomy woods.


Gaby and Rico emerge from the trees by the familiar apartments, following their trusty dove. Looking hardened beyond their years, they pause, contemplating the uncertain future ahead in this harsh city.

Against all odds, they was back where they belonged. Scarred but toughened, and wiser.

Gaby puts a protective arm around Rico as they walk toward the rising sun.

In this neighbourhood, danger always lurked right around the corner. But they would face it together - as family.



Well there you have it - nothing spectacular, but definitely another version of Hansel and Gretel, ready for your short film production (send me a link to the finished film). No surprises along the way - quick (and short) version of Hansel and Gretel, sticking to the earlier story structure, but names and places have changed, and it's now in script format. 

You will agree that we've spent well enough time with dear Hansel and Gretel? Well I'm not going to argue, but I realised everything here so far is from my conversation with Claude, and I just found an old conversation with ChatGPT (3.5) where I asked it to write a Hansel and Gretel story. If you've had enough, fine, skip to the end, otherwise, here's just one more! I won't bother with a new post for this.

tell me a modern day version of Hansel and Gretel where the witch is actually a nice librarian who gives children free books, and Hansel and Gretel are naughty children running away from home

Once upon a time, there were two mischievous siblings named Hansel and Gretel who lived in a crowded city with their busy parents. Hansel and Gretel were always getting into trouble and causing chaos at home, and their parents were at their wit's end trying to discipline them.

One day, Hansel and Gretel decided they had had enough of being scolded and grounded all the time, and they decided to run away from home. They packed some snacks and set off into the city, determined to find a place where they could be free to do as they pleased.

As they wandered the streets, Hansel and Gretel came across a cozy little library nestled in a quiet corner of the city. They were drawn in by the smell of freshly baked cookies and the promise of endless rows of books to explore.

Inside, they met a kind and gentle librarian named Mrs. Witch, who offered them a warm welcome and invited them to choose any books they liked. Hansel and Gretel were delighted and spent hours lost in the stacks, reading and munching on cookies.

As the sun began to set, Mrs. Witch noticed that Hansel and Gretel were getting tired and asked if they needed a place to stay for the night. Hansel and Gretel, who had been so caught up in their reading, realized they had nowhere to go and gratefully accepted Mrs. Witch's offer.

As they settled in for the night, Hansel and Gretel realized that Mrs. Witch was not the wicked witch they had always imagined, but a caring and generous woman who simply loved sharing her love of books with children. They apologized for their misbehavior and promised to be more respectful and obedient when they returned home.

The next morning, Hansel and Gretel set off back home with a newfound appreciation for the value of good behavior and the importance of listening to their parents. And they lived happily ever after, thanks to the kindness of Mrs. Witch and the magic of books.

Well wasn't that sweet... Depending on whether you ask AI to come with a brand new original story, or have it re-work an existing one, you may have different thoughts about the outcome. Regardless, you'll probably find that to make the story worth reading, it will take multiple rewrites and adjustments, and even then it may feel quite lifeless. But you could possibly use it as a tool to give you ideas, or rough drafts to work on yourself. At least you'd have a writing partner that's not afraid to be silly and boring; one that won't run out of ideas, or get tired of writing. Endless source of ideas when you yourself (temporarily) run out. A tool, and a cool one at that, but for now, not much more.


You should also read:

Hansel & Gretel

Before I dive into the creation of this story in more detail, here is a brand new version written by Claude from Anthropic.