"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Snow White

I saw Mirror Mirror recently, and then Snow White and the Huntsman today.  I liked them both alright but for a few flaws.

This tale is all about who is most beautiful, and Kristen Stewart just doesn't compare to Charlize Theron.  Even on her more wrinkly days in the film, Theron is breathtaking and smouldering.  Stewart is cute at best.  Well, not really cute, but she's certainly not striking in the same way.  Stewart also had limited expression which makes her even  less attractive to me.  AND the child Snow White had mousy brown hair.  She's supposed to have hair as black as ebony even as a child.  She might pass for a young Kristen Stewart, but she doesn't look like a young Snow White.  When the entire film rests on the premise that these are the most beautiful women possible, casting well is vital.  It's not as important in Mirror Mirror (in which I couldn't stop thinking of Frida Kahlo) because that was a comedy.  This one is deadly serious.

Mirror Mirror had a better build up and ending.  I left the film energized by it.  Snow White gets really cheesy, and it started to feel really long by the last bits.   BUT don't miss Snow White, because Theron can to carry the whole thing.  You can walk out once she dies, though, and you won't miss anything good.  For kids, Mirror Mirror is a funny fantasy and Snow White is quite frightening in places.  The creepiness is well done, and it starts really early on in the film.  We weren't quite ready for it.

Both films take liberties with the story, which I think is fair.  Fairy tales were passed down over generations, and the Grimms' collection isn't the final word.  The stories shift necessarily with the changing mores and horrors of the day.  Two hundred years ago, the Grimms' version of the story suggested that even a beautiful princess isn't safe from a jealous, cannibalistic step-mother.  But women are easily duped - three times in a row even - and have to wait patiently, in their finest clothes, to be rescued by men.  Only true love can break the spell and save their lives.  In real life, women needed men to be legitimate, to own property or have children.  Waiting for the best man to come around really could save a fatherless maiden's life.

All the versions have at their core that beauty is power for women - that hasn't changed much.  But these new versions allow the women to be warriors as well - to have both beauty and battle wounds.  The heroines can fight their own battles but still need a little help here and there.   It's still the case, though, that being beautiful or powerful can be a burden as people constantly try to challenge your position.  And beauty can sometimes hide an evil heart and sometimes make us really good with animals.  Vanity and narcissism will come back to bite you in the butt.  And children generally eclipse their parents.  Parents are foolish to mess with the natural order of things.  

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