Revisiting fairy tales and super heros seems to be very popular in our culture today, and in most cases I enjoy the fresh perspectives. But when watching Snow White and the Huntsman, there was one nagging question forefront in my mind, “Where is this film taking me?” To begin with, there were little details that bothered me to no end until I finally had to say to myself, “Let it go, it’s magic! Get over it.” In a world where fully formed fruit hangs on a tree in complete blossom and roses bloom in the snow I had to turn off my sense of logic and row with the flow. If you are a nit-picker, you are going to hate this film.
Once I switched off my voice of reason and allowed myself to be carried away I recognized visual influences from Joan of Arc, Braveheart, The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe and even Avatar. This confused me immensely but it intrigued me as well. Like a child playing Blind Man’s Bluff I allowed myself to be led, but inside I was crying out, “Where are you taking me? What does this mean?”
If Mirror, Mirror focuses on the magic, color and light of Snow White, Snow White and the Huntsman focuses on the dark, evil and tragic side. This Snow White was kept in a dungeon. These seven dwarfs were economical victims forced out of their jobs. And our Huntsman is a widower drowning his grief with alcohol. But what I found most interesting in this film is that the evil queen was given a back story, not to mention a creepy brother. This film tries to humanize her as well as make her into a fully developed woman. I’m still mulling over the impact of this decision. Do we really what to care about her, or is she more effective as a two-dimensional baddie? Whatever the result, Charlize Theron commits to her portrayal fully. Her queen is evil, jealous and lusts for money and power, but we also see her as a victim, vulnerable and insecure. Her interpretation is no Disney evil step-mother. This woman has issues!
When it comes to the character of Snow White, I really had a problem with the casting of Kristen Stewart. As seen as a child she is freckled, brown haired and a bit of a tomboy but when we see her again, imprisoned for at least a decade, she is now dark haired, freckle free and strong enough to run through a forest. But in neither variation does she have lips as red as blood or skin as white as snow. Is Snow White still Snow White without these important details? It didn’t help that Kristen Stewart was channeling Joan of Arc. It is hard to believe her as a princess beloved by all when she is wearing her perpetual scowl. I think that Kristen is an excellent actress, just not a Snow White. I didn’t find her right for this iconic role.
Who I did like in this movie was Chris Evans as the Huntsman. This character is seldom developed in most interpretations, but in this film he begins as a drunken wastrel and evolves into a devoted servant. Chris gives his huntsman a real emotional arc and I loved watching his face as he struggled with his moral choices. For me, his was the most satisfying character in the film. Unfortunately his build up puts Prince Charming in a smaller role. Poor Sam Claflin was barely given anything to do.
I really loved the visuals in Snow White, even when they didn’t make sense to me like the Avatar inspired forest with its strange moss covered creatures. The seven dwarfs had a Celtic vibe going for them and their interesting costumes had touches of Braveheart plaid and warrior hair-dos. But the most effective wardrobe belonged to the evil queen. Her costumes had a carrion feel with beaks, bones and winged structures. Everything about her had a sense of foreboding. She was beautiful, statuesque, but underneath was a sense of dread.
In addition to the excellent costumes and scenery, there are some very exciting battle sequences. We are treated to a full mounted attack as well as the storming of a castle. Dressed in shining armor, Kristen Stewart’s Snow White is found leading her people in revolt against an evil and tyrannical queen. But this is not how I remember Snow White. The Snow White of my generation was a sweet delicate girl who was an excellent housekeeper and had no problem caring for seven sloppy men. We’ve come a long way baby, even if I don’t know how we got here. This is a Snow White for a whole new generation.
Rating: First Run Not your mother’s Snow White
- Melanie Wilson
- My Reviewer's Philosophy: I believe that every film has its audience. One man’s Citizen Kane is another man’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre. My purpose is to help you spend your entertainment dollars wisely. A bad review never kept me from going to a film I wanted to see, but a good review will sometimes get me to a film I never considered. As a movie lover I want you to go to the movies. When more people go to the movies, the more movies get made. But, I also believe that if you enjoy the films you see, you naturally will be inclined to go more often. So join me in supporting our film industry by going to a movie today. Hopefully I can steer you towards a good one. See you at the movies. Melanie Wilson