Thursday, May 31, 2012


Carole Mallory


Review: A Fearless Snow White and the Huntsman

Posted: 05/09/2005 3:00 am

Hail to the Queen, Kristen Stewart, who captures your heart in Snow White and the Huntsman. In Joan of Arc style, she steals the crown away from Charlize Theron. No easy feat. Oh, Theron as the evil queen is mighty good at playing evil alright, but she is outdone by the raw sincerity of Stewart. With Stewart's thin lips slightly parted and mist perpetually in her bluest of blue eyes, Stewart as Snow White steals your heart and this film. Her gaze is steadfast when starring down a monster in the woods or when taking on The Evil Queen or when helping a dwarf who is dying to take his last breath to ease his journey to the next land.
Most of us know the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, yet somehow I was on the edge of my seat at times wondering what would happen to this delicate personification of innocence, Snow White. It is her gaze of innocence and pure longing that grabs your emotions and holds you in her spell. She ever so much reminds me of a young Joan Fontaine and the helplessness of Rebecca.
The film begins with Snow White's mother (Liberty Ross) giving her and her friend, Prince William (Sam Clafin) ,who is the son of a nobleman, the happiest of castles for a home when suddenly her mother dies. King Magnus (Noah Huntley) distraught and overcome by loneliness then one day in the forest he comes upon a beautiful damsel in distress dressed in rags, but who has the most stunning face surrounded by golden hair. Ravenna (Theron) possesses powers of witchcraft and puts the King under her spell. Within 24 hours he marries her and on their wedding night she stabs him in his heart as she says," Men use women, and when they are finished, they toss us aside once our youth is gone. First I'll take your life, and then I'll love you."
After murdering the King, she talks to a gold mirror-like symbol on the wall, stares into it and asks who is the fairest of them all. The mirror morphs into liquid and a figure taller than Ravenna says, 'You, my lady. Take the heart of a young woman in your hand and you will never age."
"Where is one?" Ravenna cries as she eats the raw hearts of young crows.
After her father's murder, Snow White is imprisoned in the top of the castle. Prince Williamis able to escape. Alone Ravenna enlists the help of her brother Finn (Sam Spruell) to tend house and one of his duties is to supply young girls to the Evil Queen so that she can steal their youth by sucking it out of them.
This theme of sustaining youth through taking lives of young women is not new. Neither is the Grimm fairy tale Snow White. But this film is a tour de force in its execution.
Years pass and one day the gold symbol- like-mirror tells Ravenna that there is one who could be a threat to her immortality. Snow White. Finn tries to bring her to Ravenna, but Snow White escapes. Ravenna hires a strapping Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find Snow White so that she can take her heart out and hold it in her hand and live forever.
And so the fairy tale goes. The Huntsman falls for Snow White as he sees her fight for her life in a bleak woods filled with terrifying creatures. Meanwhile Ravenna has sent Finn to find her. There is an interlude where Snow White and the Huntsman are taken in by a village of women who scar their faces so their beauty is not a threat to the Queen. Finally Snow White meets the Seven Dwarfs which in actuality are eight--Bob Hoskins, Ian Mc Shane, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, Brian Gleeson. These dwarfs help to protect her and take her to the Enchanted Forest. The poison apple is given to Snow White by Prince William, but who is really Ravenna who has cast a spell over the body of William and morphed into his image.
The rest of the Fairy Tale is common knowledge. The mounting use of special effects makes a slow build and does not bombard you from the onset of the film. The forest is black in nature as is the entire film wherever it can be; therefore, drops of red as in blood and a rose signifying hope stand out and register viscerally. The costumes all are tasteful and done so that the focus is on Ravenna and Snow White whose chain mail outfit in the end shines triumphantly and brightly as her spirit.
While this is a dark, depressing view of the Grimm Fairy Tale which was never meant to be a laughing matter, this movie is authentic in spirit to the original intentions of this story. Only by showing the bleakness can the sunshine upon this diabolical tragedy. I recommend this film passionately. It is masterful in art direction and well acted. Its championship direction by a first time director, Rupert Sanders, and bold writing by Evan Daughtery, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini, take a feminist tale and keep it a feminist tale. The Huntsman remains an admirer of Snow White and they go off into the sunset with mutual respect as friends. At its conclusion, the audience applauded and I joined them.
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