Snow White : a Grimm Fairytale - my Review
Walt Disney and the Seven Dwarfs
Painting by Ford Madox Brown
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.