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Snow White and the Huntsman: Twisted Into Excellence
A Movie Review
I think we all have a pretty fixed image of Snow White in our heads and for me, there are a few contenders who loom large in my mind. There’s the 1937 animated Disney film that untold numbers of children have grown up with, the film which brings to mind the pretty unfortunate princess in yellow who is rescued from her glass coffin by a prince and his kiss, along with the hideous, frightening witch with her shiny, red, poisonous apple.
There’s the classic fairy tale version from the Brothers Grimm, that dark and somewhat disturbing story where the wicked stepmother queen eats what she presumes is Snow White’s heart. There is also the recent TV series, Once Upon A Time, where we see fairy tale characters stuck unknowingly in modern times and in which we are taken to their own time and are able to see the adventures of Snow White, Prince Charming, and the Queen play out.
So what makes Snow White and the Huntsman, directed by Rupert Sanders, any different from these popular renditions? The film, which came out in theaters on June 1st, is not strikingly different than any of those versions I listed or any others you might have in mind. In fact, the first part of the movie has many elements of the Brothers Grimm story, including the tale of a mother who wanted a fair daughter after seeing blood on the snow, a magic mirror, an evil Queen (played brilliantly by Charlize Theron), and the huntsman.
But yet, it is extremely unique. The huntsman remains in the film for the majority of the story, Kristen Stewart’s Snow White becomes a warrior, and there is no glass coffin.
But perhaps one of the more unusual aspects of this film is the fact that there is no clear love story. There is a love story, yes, but its winding path throughout the movie is overgrown with plot twists and complicated situations. I can’t even stress enough how much this drew me in personally, as a viewer. In many other movies, the love story is obvious; you follow the tale of two lovers and everything comes full circle in the end. But in Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White ends up with nobody, although there are two specific men in her life. I was endlessly intrigued by this.
Sam Claflin plays William, the son of a Duke and our model for Prince Charming. He fills the shoes of a prince quite well; he is handsome, he is brave, and he is noble. He is everything that a prince should be. He was Snow White’s childhood friend and they are torn apart in an especially wrenching scene. This makes the chance of him and Snow White reuniting as adults a particularly enticing situation. In fact, the movie very well could have gone this way, down a very familiar passageway that Disney and the Brothers Grimm once treaded. Snow White very well could have lived happily ever after with the prince.
But enter the Huntsman, portrayed by Chris Hemsworth (I had just seen him in Thor and to see him in another epic movie was seriously fun). This is where one of those twists is introduced. While in the original fairy tale, the Huntsman is sent to rip out Snow White’s heart, cannot do it, and promptly disappears, in this film, he stays. He is always there. He becomes Snow White’s protector, he is there to watch over her and save her life, if need be. He is suffering from the death of his wife and he can be a drunkard at times, but he is fiercely loyal.
Here’s the slammer: when Snow White is poisoned, one of these men kisses her and she does not wake up. The other also kisses her and she does wake up.
I will leave you to see the film and deduce for yourself.
The twists that have been added to this familiar fairy tale make it an intense, absorbing film that I highly recommend. I enjoy being visually pleased and there was no shortage of beauty in this film, although at times it was most definitely dark beauty (some of the scenery occasionally gave off a Tim Burton vibe). The actors and actresses chosen were all perfect for their parts. Although I’ve read that many people did not like Kristen Stewart’s performance, I think she made a wonderful Snow White. I don’t think the Snow White in this movie was meant to be like any other portrayals of the character that came before it and Stewart delivered a unique performance that was fresh and different. And most importantly, I have been impacted. I can’t stop thinking about the movie or the story within it. I even read the novel based on the movie, which is a tiny bit different, but still very enjoyable.
And so my verdict is that this fairy tale has been tweaked and twisted, not into anything grotesque, but rather into something quite excellent.