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Snow White : a Grimm Fairytale - my Review

Updated on June 9, 2012
Statue of the Brothers Grimm.
Statue of the Brothers Grimm. | Source
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. | Source

Walt Disney and the Seven Dwarfs

Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarfs in a scene from the original 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs theatrical trailer
Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarfs in a scene from the original 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs theatrical trailer | Source
The famous "Heigh-Ho" sequence from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, animated by Shamus Culhane
The famous "Heigh-Ho" sequence from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, animated by Shamus Culhane | Source

Painting by Ford Madox Brown

Painting of Romeo and Juliet in the balcony scene
Painting of Romeo and Juliet in the balcony scene | Source

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first published German fairy tales in 1812. Contrary to the description of “Children’s Tales” the stories were really not suitable for children.

Walt Disney's first animated movie

Walt Disney changed all that in 1937, when he produced “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” the first full-length cel-animated feature in motion picture history (run time of 83 minutes). Produced by Walt Disney Productions and Released by RKO Radio Pictures, it was also the first animated feature film produced in America, the first in full color and the first of the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. After its nationwide release on February 4, 1938, it grossed $8 million. In 1998, the American Film Institute named the movie "the greatest American animated film of all time." Today, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is known and loved by generations of children. I remember well when I first saw the movie as a child. I was as terrified as Snow White to be running for my life through a dark forest and stumbling upon adventures of a lifetime. I still see in my mind’s eye, the evil queen, arrogantly seeking the advice of her magic mirror and descending to her witch’s lair to concoct poisonous devices to still the breath of the beautiful Snow White. The dark sky, thunder and lightning that accompanied the old crone’s final demise left me wide-eyed and fearful and thankfully the vision was replaced by the loving prince carrying his beloved Snow White off to their life happily ever after, lovingly embraced, upon the back of his noble steed.

Disney's Snow White

In Disney’s version, the sweet Snow White (voice provided by Adriana Caselotti) is depicted as an innocent and naïve princess aided by loving forest animals and seven adorable dwarfs who inject fun and humor into the story, giving it light and beautiful moments. Artwork is superlative and Sneezy, Sleepy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful and Grumpy give a full range of emotions to our damsel in distress.

From the very beginning, we recognize that the evil and usurping queen, aided by a green vapor-enveloping face in the magic mirror, will do anything to kill off Snow White. Ultimately, through one of her cunning disguises, she tempts and tricks our naïve and innocent heroine into biting the shiny, red, deadly apple. The symbolism of the serpent tempting Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge and implicate Adam, thereby expelling them both from Paradise, makes itself strongly felt here.

I was surprised to discover that Walt Disney was influenced by MGM’s “Romeo and Juliet,” German films “Nosferatu” and “The Cabinet of Dr. Calligari” as well as the 1931 version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in the making of this film.

The Prince (voice of Harry Stockwell), saves the day by finding Snow White laid out in her glass coffin, and takes her in his arms to deliver love’s first kiss, thereby breaking the evil spell.

Romeo and Juliet

"Ah, dear Juliet,

Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe

That unsubstantial death is amorous,

And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps

Thee here in dark to be his paramour?”

Act 5, Scene 3

As all fairy tales should end, they live happily ever after.Who could ever forget the well-loved songs which include “Heigh-Ho,”“Whistle While You Work,” and “Some Day My Prince Will Come.”Frank Churchill and Larry Morey composed the songs and the music score was composed by Paul J. Smith and Leigh Harline.“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was the first American film with a soundtrack album.

Original Theatrical Trailer

Mirror Mirror is a 2012 comedy fantasy film based on the fairy tale "Snow White" by the Brothers Grimm.  Lily Collins as Snow White.
Mirror Mirror is a 2012 comedy fantasy film based on the fairy tale "Snow White" by the Brothers Grimm. Lily Collins as Snow White. | Source
Queen Gertrude (Julia Roberts)
Queen Gertrude (Julia Roberts) | Source

"Mirror, Mirror!"

Roll on 2012 and the comedy, fantasy version of Snow White is directed by Tarsem Singh, starring Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as the Princess in exile, and evil Queen Gertrude (who sneakily gets rid of the beloved King and rules his kingdom with lavish abandon), played by the delectable Oscar-winner, Julia Roberts.

Queen Gertrude keeps Snow White prisoner in her father’s castle, but one day, the princess sneaks out to revisit the town of her youth which was happy and healthy during the reign of her father. On her way through the forest, she meets Prince Andrew Alcott (Armie Hammer) and his companion, Renbock who have been robbed by seven mysterious bandits. When the princess continues her journey and arrives at the town, she discovers much to her alarm that the evil Queen has bankrupted everyone. She decides to reclaim the kingdom and set everything right. The seven dwarfs are rebels (with very interesting legs), who ultimately take Snow White in and educate her in the ways of dueling, as every young woman these days is required to learn the art of self-defense!

During this time, Prince Andrew finds his way to the castle and Queen Gertrude discovers a solution to her financial woes. She throws a lavish ball to seduce the Prince. Snow White and the Prince discover their love for one another (echoes of Romeo and Juliet once more) and it does not escape Queen Gertrude’s wily observations and she orders her manservant to feed Snow White to the mysterious Beast in the forest. The Queen needs to find a way to get the Prince to marry her, so she visits her magic mirror through a portal to a bleak, isolated house full of mirrors. Within these mirrors we discover a wiser, kinder and younger reflection of the Queen who warns Gertrude about the cost of using magic.

Official Trailer - Mirror Mirror

Bollywood Style

As I am not one that enjoys spoilers, let me just say that with much trickery and many humorous situations later, Queen Gertrude gets her final come-uppance as she tries to ply our Princess with the poisoned apple. Let’s just say Gertrude has to eat crow, and our Princess marries her handsome Prince. The film ends Bollywood style, with Snow White singing "I Believe in Love."

I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Snow White and found the action humorous, light and enjoyable. A sense of humor always lifts things up and Julia Roberts is delightful in this greedy role. Lily Collins played a lovely Snow White while the costumes and sets were delightful. As of June 6, 2012, “Mirror Mirror” has grossed $63 million in N. America and almost $98 million internationally, which brings its worldwide total to almost $161 million.

I Believe in Love

Jake Hamilton interviews Lily Collins, Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer about MIRROR MIRROR

Snow White and the Huntsman

Source

Snow White and the Huntsman

My review would be incomplete without including “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Directed by Rupert Sanders and Starring Kristen Stewart, Oscar-winner Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, this movie has a runtime of 2 hrs 7 mins and is rated PG 13 (intense action sequences, violence and brief sensuality)

[Spoiler alert] After the new Queen, Ravenna savagely murders the benevolent King, Snow White’s father, she locks Snow White up in a tower in the castle where Snow White grows up in the company of birds. The evil Queen is psychologically damaged and tortured. A luminous Charlize Theron – my countrywoman – revels in a well fleshed-out role, where she sucks the life force from others in her insatiable quest for eternal youth. Her acting is a tour-de-force and she dons rich costumes and enjoys lavish interiors as juxtaposed with her forays into black, white and gray outdoor imagery in pursuit of her nemesis. Her sidekick, a sadistic brother named Finn (Sam Spruell) is always eager to do her bidding.

Official Trailer

Medieval setting

Closer to the Grimms’ original story, this film has a powerful Middle Ages look and feel. It begins quite faithful to the writing and the young Snow White is beautifully played by Raffey Cassidy who captures the beauty, kindness of heart and trusting innocence of the young princess. Her charming and wide-eyed innocence becomes lost when Kirsten Stewart takes over in a fairly one-dimensional performance as the fully-grown Snow White. Kirsten, of “Twilight” fame, is lithe and attractive but gives little depth of emotion to her performance.

The next part of the film contains powerful imagery, but is too full of darkness and destruction. In my humble opinion, at least a quarter to half an hour could have been cut from this section of the film. There is far too much running through murky, dark places and much horse-riding through the medieval muck and mire of a dismal kingdom. The malevolent queen’s fiery temper and her investment in the black arts raises the specter of good vs. evil yet again. I was struck by the power of a scene where Ravenna immerses in a bath of milk and emerges like gleaming ivory. The imagery in this film is rich and layered and shows a stark contrast between the riches within the castle and the grinding poverty of the kingdom. Of course, the Queen approaches the magic Mirror and asks the well-known question. I personally did not care for the personification of the Mirror, but needless to say, the response from the mirror initiates the action that follows.

Queen Ravenna

Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen
Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen | Source

Flight to Freedom - Fight for Freedom

Snow White has been kept imprisoned in a tower in the castle and is finally able to make her escape. She reaches a bog filled with quicksand which sucks the noble horse’s hooves out from under her. Queen Ravenna has no heart – she personifies death. Snow White IS life and the Queen wants her heart so she can remain forever young and beautiful. Ravenna forces a drunken Huntsman to find her and bring her back alive. The princess flees from the Huntsman (the actor who played Thor) and he chases her into the dark forest which is filled with noxious fumes, slithering snakes and hosts of creepy crawling things. Eventually, instead of becoming her hunter, he becomes her protector. Although the dwarves in this film are the least enjoyable of the three movies I have discussed here, I did, however, enjoy the terrifying troll, also a living creature, that is touched by Snow White’s loving gaze.

Snow White joins the ranks of modern women who learn how to fight as the Huntsman teaches her the Art of War. With images of Chris Hemsworth swinging that axe like mighty Thor lingering in my memory, I must admit that I preferred the blonder, more tightly clad superhero than the muddy earth-toned, brown-haired huntsman whose blue eyes were not given more opportunity to sparkle.

I breathed a sigh of relief when finally Snow White and gang reach Sanctuary – a valley of light with its precious pixie-like beings and all manner of winged things. It is a magical green enchanted forest and there are mythical creatures filled with color and lightness of being. This is where the Princess is blessed by a beautiful snow-white Hart with huge antlers. Snow White is destined to end the darkness brought about by Ravenna, but how?

Trailer for the U.K.

Black Arts - Black Death

With a recurring theme of blackbirds which collectively form objects then fracture into an unkindness of raucous ravens, or a wild murder of crows, an avalanche of jagged glossy black shards which constitute an army, launch themselves at the good knights. The powerful image of ravens, black against a blinding whiteness of snow, showcases Queen Ravenna’s brooding and malevolent presence and her panicked pursuit to stop at nothing to restore herself to eternal youth and beauty and maintain her control of the kingdom forever. I can’t help but think that the latter part of the Middle Ages was marked by famine, plague, war and the Black Death. Between the years 1347 and 1350, approximately a third of the European population was decimated. How fitting then, that this film should echo that era.

Final battle scenes portray a war machine complete with flaming fireballs flung from trebuchets, boiling tar pouring down from the castle’s high walls and archers with longbows sending walls of arrows flying at an armor-clad Snow White and her band of knights as they charge the castle, brandishing swords and shields in their attempt to gain access and overthrow the wicked queen. Brave horses in heavy armor carry their armor-clad knights, and with banners and pennants flying, make a faithful effort to protect the realm. These scenes carry with them a Lord-of-the-Rings quality. Of course, the evil Queen uses clever trickery to get our Princess to take a bite of that apple. Once Snow White succumbs, would a kiss break the spell? You will have to see the ending for yourselves,

As of June 6, 2012, Snow White and the Huntsman has earned $71,403,845 in N. America and $46,622,211 in other territories. As of June 5, 2012, the worldwide total is $118,026,056.

Personally, I would not recommend this version for children.

Snow White and the Huntsman

4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Snow White and the Huntsman

The story of Snow White

Which of the three movies reviewed above is your favorite?

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    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Beth, I've never been into the horror genre much, so not sure whether I will get to view the movie, but thank you for your input and comments, they are appreciated. :)

    • profile image

      Beth 4 years ago

      Snow White: A Tale of Terror beats all of these movies hands down. I wouldn't really class it as a horror personally, just a more grim look on the fairytale. But please watch that movie! You wont regret it, its one of my all time favourite fairytale movies!

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      Sure thing. I liked both methods of her youth keeping too, but I just thought having two different ways overcomplicated the story.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Vitallani: You did a great job of breaking down your likes and dislikes in the movie, and I agree with most of what you said. Personally, I liked both the images of the Queen trying various methods of keeping her youth - both inside and out. I thought both scenes were powerful and I'm sure you know that most people would do virtually anything to keep their youthful appearance! :)

      I see that modern versions of heroines reflect women of today that are more liberated and like to take care of themselves rather than wait for someone else to do it for them.

      Great job, Vitallani. Thanks for coming back and sharing your views.

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      I've just got back from seeing the film.

      The things I didn't like include:

      1. The magic mirror - it did not work at all for me. It looked more like a shield or large plate than a mirror, and the creature that came out of it made no sense - I didn't get why she was the only one who could see it either, or why that even mattered.

      2. The introduction to the Huntsmen - I think he was introduced far too late in the film, and he just seemed to pop out of nowhere for no reason. He needed to be established much earlier on, and should have started off on the Queen's side.

      3. The Queen's army - I like that Sanders tried to connect with the fairy tale about the glass, but I don't think the way he went about it really worked. They didn't look right.

      4. Milk bath/life sucking - I actually liked both of these scenes, but the thing was, it should have been one or the other. At first it shows the milk bath is how she regenerates, but then it shows it is done by sucking the youth from women. I think it is confusing and over kill to have two methods.

      5. Character confusion - I was sometimes confused which character was which, or what their relation was to one another. For example, I thought at the beginning, Ian was William, so was surprised when he was killed. I just think Ian and his father were a few characters too many. An unnecessary addition that could have been cut, as it made beginning of the film drag with all the extra scenes. I was also unsure at the beginning what William's relationship to Snow White was. They acted like brother and sister, but I knew in my heart he was meant to be the equivalent of the prince.

      What I loved:

      1. Characterisation - I agree with you that the actor playing the young Snow White was excellent, but I liked the adult Snow White, just as much. I actually thought the characterisation of all the characters were excellent, particularly the Queen's brother. I don't know what it was, but I really liked him.

      2. The escape - This is where I began to enjoy the film. Up until this point I was unsure if I liked it or not, and I felt it was dragging, but things really picked up here.

      3. The Dark Forest - I thought the scenes in the forest were excellent. I loved how it came alive, but was shown to be all in her head, or an illusion, like in the Disney version, it is her mind playing tricks on her.

      4. The Sanctuary - It was absolutely beautiful. I loved the moss creatures and the pixies.

      5. Snow White as heroine - She was an active, fighting character, not one needing to be rescued by the prince. The romance element is there, but it is in the background, and more subtle. At the end, there is not even a 'I choose you to be my prince, let's get married and ride off into the sunset' moment. We are given the answer by the Huntsmen kissing her, and it goes no further. I liked that.

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      I will.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      If you do, please come back and let me know what you think about it. :)

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      I haven't actually seen the film yet. I do hope to though.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Vitallani, I would be curious to know your opinion of Rupert Sanders' movie. It is interesting to see how women have changed over the years and thus their portrayal in film (or would that be life imitating art?) It's interesting to me how Disney continues to appeal to the eternal child in all of us. That is definitely the Disney magic. When I visited Disney World just a couple of years ago, the child in me came skipping out despite the wisdom of my years. :)

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      Snow and the Huntsman has quite piqued my interest. I like that the Snow White is portrayed as an active heroine fighting her corner than just waiting for Prince Charming to come to the rescue. Disney's version will always have the top place in my hear though.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Dear Hyph: I really can't say that I blame you. Today, everything is geared toward box office success it seems. I saw that "Snow White and the Huntsman" the sequel is being planned - I'm sure to ride the tails of the success of this movie. I also hear that Disney is planning to release another Snow White movie next year. Seems that Snow White is the new flavor of the "month." We'll see how well they modernize the tale!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      As a romantic, I love the original Disney film. The Huntsman just sounds too intense for me and the new Julia Roberts make me want to see it but.....

      You did a great job with the reviews, so much so that I have decided to retain my childlike innocence and keep the original film only in my memory banks. Thanks, Hyph.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thanks so much for saying, Deb. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. xx

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      What excellent and well-written reviews for all these movies. I am hard pressed to not be intrigued by any of them. Well done!

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      CarltheCritic: Loved your input here! I see that movie-viewing depends totally on one's perspective. I was a little girl when I first saw the Disney version and it was right for that era. Goes to show how different generations have a different frame of reference. Snow White's behavior as a young and innocent girl back then wouldn't have raised too many eyebrows... I'm sure you know about Goldilocks? :) Now the apple situation... I am sure that these days there would be some other type of temptation, and you can't rule out the extra lure of magic...so you have to give Snow White a pass on that one!

      I totally pass on "Snow White: A Tale of Terror!" I am not a lover of horror movies - never have been and never will be. I used to enjoy a good psychological thriller once upon a time, and was actually a Hitchcock fan, but these days I prefer things that don't get me all tense and freaked out.

      "Mirror, Mirror" was light and entertaining and visually appealing, so yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the offering. I was unaware of all of Tarsem's other activities, but there again, I believe he injected some of his cultural heritage into the fairy tale which actually made it more interesting for me.

      I think that in any Snow White movie, the dwarfs will have a very hard time compared to the Disney Dwarfs. As the interview video explains, Disney studios would not give permission for the Disney Dwarf names to be used, and the personalities of the Disney Dwarfs are so appealing. Dwarves as thieves or murderous bandits don't quite compare, so any other dwarf is at an immediate disadvantage. Yes, everyone is up in arms about real little people not being used in S.W. and the Huntsman! I saw yesterday that a very quick sequel is being planned for quick release. I wonder how they will expand the story. I hear the Disney studios is also going to release a sequel next year. Ho-Hum, I don't generally find sequels at all satisfying. I have always wondered whether I dare read the sequel to "Gone With the Wind," but think I prefer to remember the original just the way it was made!!

      Thank you so much for your thoughts on the subject and I greatly appreciate your votes. Great pleasure dueling with you. :) Have a great weekend.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 5 years ago

      WHAT!? No "Snow White: a Tale of Terror"? That one is one of my favorites! :P lol

      Let me see here, I must admit that this is very clever to compare the most popular versions of the Snow White, with "Snow White and the Huntsman". I really liked the Disney version as well, though Snow White is a bit... um how do I put this... dumb. She runs in the middle of the woods, finds a cottage, looks inside and sees that it's empty, knocks on the door twice, then turns to her fury little friends and says "There's no one home", and then proceeds to walk inside (there's no one inside so I guess it's okay to enter a strange, dirty house in the middle of nowhere and touch their things). But I guess it makes sense that Snow White's character was like this, it would give her reason to eat a poison apple given to her by a complete stranger. Again I love Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", it's charming, cute, and a landmark picture of it's time.

      What's next here, ah yes Tarsem's "Mirror Mirror". Not a huge fan of Tarsem, he doesn't normally make films in the traditional Bollywood style, where everyone has a dance number at the end, his background is mostly music videos, "artsy" films with Jennifer Lopez, and whatever the "Immortals" was supposed to be. I didn't have the pleasure of seeing the film, but that song "I Believe in Love" is too cliché and obnoxious for me to get into. It does look like a colorful film, and I guess it makes sense to have a colorful version of Snow White to contrast "Snow White and the Huntsman", but based on the trailer, Tarsem's own description of the film, and the music video provided, I am going to have to pass on it.

      I didn't think the dwarfs in "Snow White and the Huntsman" weren't that bad, they were just like in most of the stories I've read about them, they weren't too much in focus and they weren't heavily exploited (like in the music video for "I Believe in Love" where their forced to dance to that song) I am however disappointed in the fact that the film didn't use real little people. Overall we basically agree on most things, and am glad I read this. Voted Up, Useful, Interesting, and Funny :)

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Shirley, good to see you here and thank you for your comments.

      MG Singh, that's so good of you to say. Thank you, I appreciate your comments.

      Vellur: Many thanks for that and I'm so glad you enjoyed the reading. Your votes are greatly appreciated. :)

      Greatstuff: That's true. There were different publications apparently and some of it was Grimm indeed, not suitable for children during any age I think. Mind you, when one considers the movies, TV and video games today.... ummmm.... ! I appreciate your 2c nevertheless. :)

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      You are right when you said the 'Childre's tale' aren't really suitable for children. The same thing goes to most of the folk-tales that were written years ago. Maybe back in the old days, it was OK. Now, our perspective has changed and what were suitable for kids then, aren't anymore. So when the Grimms published the story back in 1812, it was OK! Just my 2c worth!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      A great review, well written and researched. Enjoyable read. Voted up.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 5 years ago from Singapore

      A very enjoyable post. loved it, thank you

    • profile image

      Shirley Roth 5 years ago

      Another great post Suelynn!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are very Sue, anytime!

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Susan, thank you for the comments, they are appreciated. Isn't it amazing how certain images remain in our memories from so many years ago? Disney certainly had magic in that regard, didn't he?

      I quite understand your response regarding the Huntsman. You will find that Mirror Mirror is uplifting and fun - do enjoy.

    • profile image

      Susan 5 years ago

      This was most enjoyable. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs certainly brought back many fond memories of that particular film from my childhood. I can still see the evil Queen's cape billowing as she descended that circular stairway to consult her mirror.

      Mirror Mirror sounds like a film I will see and enjoy. Not so much the Huntsman. It sounds like a tour de force for Charlize, and not much else that interests me. I like her work, and the costumes are lavish and marvelous. But the film looks so dark in the trailer that I really have no desire to see it.

      Thank you for these excellent reviews.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Josh3418, thanks so much for saying. You really made my day. :)

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This is well-written and very informative! Great plug in for Snow White and the Huntsman as well! I will definitely be watching at some point! Voted up and useful, I will be following you.