Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

I’m a great fan of transforming classic fairytales to modern movie format. So it was with great hopes I started to watch Snow White and the Huntsman. The experience was however not entirely pleasant. Overall I would say that I have not much interest in watching it again.

In the classic Grim Brother’s tale princess Snow White outmatches her stepmother (the Queen) in Beauty, and then the stepmother sends her huntsman to kill Snow White in the forest. The girl is let go by the huntsman and Snow White ends up with seven dwarfs, hiding in their home. The queen has a magic mirror and finds out that Snow White is still alive. Twice she tries to kill her, and the third time is “successful” in the way that Snow White is apparently dead and placed in a glass coffin. A prince persuades the dwarfs to have the coffin, but as he transports it, it is shaken and the apple caught in the throat comes lose and Snow White turns alive. Snow White then revenges on her stepmother by letting her dance in hot iron shoes until she dies. That is the original story in short.

Now princesses, and women in general, from the fairy-tales are good, beautiful and innocent, incapable of doing anything on their own. Or they are evil witches.

So what do they do with Snow White in this movie? The narrator begins “Once upon a time, in deep winter, a queen was admiring the falling snow, when she saw a rose blooming in defiance of the cold. Reaching for it she pricked her finger and three drops of blood fell. And because the red seemed so alive against the white she thought, "If only I had a child as white as snow, lips as red as blood, hair as black as a raven's wings, and all with the strength of that rose." “

So they want a strong Snow White. That is fine with me. But still she has kept her purity and her innocence – which becomes some strange mix. And in the end it becomes a rather lame Snow White after all. At least until she has “died” and awoken by true love’s first kiss and goes to war with an armor on like a knight. All I could think of at that time was Jeanne d'Arc (a French folk heroine and war hero turning into a saint as she claimed divine guidance and burned at the stake for heresy at 19). Quite a turning point.

One other very strange thing in this effort to make a modern Snow White is every woman's need to have a man around. Snow White got her companion in the huntsman, the Queen got hers in her brother. Neither woman could manage on their own. They are dependent on their men. It's to ridiculously old-fashioned.

Then we have the world in which the story takes place. It is not properly set up with rules. Which makes a sort of “anything could happen and it will”-line of story. You need proper rules for your world when you make one up. The Queen can use magic, sure, but that does not mean that the rest of the world is full of magic. When Snow White and the Huntsman have met the dwarfs they walk into a magic world that belongs to the elves. The elves as it turned out has helped Snow White dressed as magpies. Why? We never find out. What are they? We are not told. What happens to them? We are left in wonder.

It is also a blunder not to set limits to the Queen’s magic. It is sort of annoying when a magically skilled person in a story can do some amazing things, and suddenly can’t do other simple things, without any explanation.

Personally I find it fascinating that Snow White needs to kill (murder) the Queen. As the setup was made, I thought it would be enough for Snow White to place some of her own blood on her stepmom. Once again I find that you can get away with murder as long as the person you kill is a bad guy. Not only is this very cliché, it is also a dangerous attitude that puts every person in a rightful judgment of their peers.

This movie could have been so much more. Its full potential never got the space to breeze and catch the audience. What was left was some bleak mix of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Story if Joan of Arc

Thank you Imdb.com for the links