August 19, 2017

Latest Snow White is More Grimm than Disney

snow white and the huntsmanBy Julie Samrick

We first see that familiar flicker of hate glimmer in the evil stepmother’s eyes on her wedding day to the King- an impossibly young, yet not yet mature, Snow White turns more heads processing down the aisle than the new stepmother.  So sets the stage for the monstrous jealousy that consumes the Queen, with the magic mirror serving as instigator.  We know how the story goes, but in this latest version of it, Snow White and the Huntsman, the focus is on Snow White’s escape to the woods, when the Queen forces a skilled huntsman to bring back Snow White’s heart.  This latest retelling has more disturbing Grimm fairytale components in it, rather than Disney milk and kindness, to be sure.  Yet, the original way new details are written into the story to give it more depth while still sticking to the classic plot, won’t be lost on teens and older viewers.

 

We see more dimensions to the characters we thought we knew so well.  The stepmother’s backstory is explained- how a damaged childhood left her clinging to her looks; there’s a good reason why it’s Snow White’s heart she wants above all else; and just why the Queen’s vanity can never be satiated. 

 

The dwarves still fall for the sweet girl and protect her like a cherished friend, yet they are warriors who are savvy and street smart too.

 

The Prince isn’t a flat, one-dimensional character who just appears out of thin air either. It’s suspenseful who the Prince even is until the end.

 

Yet, of all the characters, Snow White is probably still the most flat, and that hasn’t changed in this movie.

 

There are 2 disturbing scenes that earn this film its PG-13 rating- in one the Queen rips out a commoner’s heart with her bare hands.  We can’t see any blood- it’s all really just insinuation in the scary scenes like this one. But what makes the movie eerie are the big production sound effects, chilling music, and use of magic.  The magical, fantasy elements to the story are so vital to the script the device is practically a character itself. 

 

As for romance, there is hardly any except for one scene early on when the Queen is in bed with the King- I thought there would be a sex scene by the way it was going, but there isn’t.  The rest of the film is as chaste as Snow White.

 

Teens will enjoy the heavy use of symbolism, especially if a few examples are pointed out to them first. Light and dark imagery is used almost excessively throughout.  The world is bleak, physically gray, the first half of the film.  Snow White comes across a wild stallion, white, symbolizing hope and new, good things to come. The world brightens with comic levity and flowers even once the dwarves come on the scene. The stepmother’s name is Ravenna, yet she has golden hair. Snow White is pure and sweet, with a head of dark hair.

 

With two Snow White movies out in 2012 – this and Mirror, Mirror- it’s hard not to compare the two.  Snow White and the Huntsman is astronomically better than Mirror, Mirror.  It’s compelling, original, and the choices to enhance the classic story are smart instead of cheesy.

 

Still, I would hold off showing children younger than 12 Snow White and the Huntsman.

 

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