Once upon a time… in the dark theater I sat waiting for Snow White and the Huntsman to begin. But before that could happen, I had to endure some extremely unrelated trailers, starting off with a movie coming out on Katy Perry... At least at our local theater, they've elongated the trailers time, I mean when I went to see The Hunger Games, I was literally almost 25 minutes late and I didn't miss a moment of the film. But anyways, back to Snow White. So I wasn't sure what to expect, would this film completely take this fairy tale in a place where it didn't need to be? Would it have a horrible screenplay and acting? I'll be honest I was kind of leaning towards the positive side, unlike most people probably who seem to have a real dislike for a certain young actress, but I had already watched some of the press interviews and it seemed like the story was in good hands, with interesting motives and intentions.
Now I should say that I went to the movie with my dad, who had already seen it. Now let's explain this. So the weekend before I saw Snow White, my mom and dad where hoping to see a film called "For Greater Glory" which was supposed to be playing at our theater, but when they got there it turns out it didn't make it to our theater, which kind of makes sense since our town rarely gets any smaller, independent films... But anyways they called me to say that they were instead going to be seeing Snow White, which I REALLY wanted to see, as did my dad and my mom was kind of impartial to the idea.
When they finally got home, I asked them on entering the door, "So... how was it?" My dad responded positively, saying he actually liked it a lot and he was surprised by the epic battle scenes. And my mom said that surprisingly she kind of liked it. A little while later my mom told me that, though she liked it, she thought that the "girl" playing Snow White wasn't that good, she wasn't strong enough to pull off the role. But I was unconsciously ready for this opinion. And what I'm about to tell all of you in the form of my thoughts about this film, is in part what I told my mom and I actually changed her view on Kristen Stewart's performance:
So first of all my perspective on Kristen Stewart's performance that I had going into the film and what I imparted to my mom. So after watching a few too many press interviews, what I came away with was this: Kristen Stewart was attracted to this role not because it was epic and had battle scenes not because Snow White's character was physically and outwardly strong. What attracted her to this role was the fact that Snow White didn't have that sort of strength especially at the beginning, her strength came from an internal and intangible strength and a steadiness and was able to ground those around her. She liked that it didn't play into the modern ideal that women have to be so strong and act like men, Snow White is instead vulnerable and gentle and calm. And from this different inner strength she was able to lead a people.
Now to my perceptions after seeing the film, I LOVED how it started, with the Huntsman's voice as narrator, playing into the history of oral tradition, it set a great tone for the film. The film is truly beautiful shot and detailed, it was one of the most beautiful films I've seen, the colors, landscapes and small details that they thought to put in were well done. And they were able to create such beauty and such destruction, epitomized in the juxtaposition of the "Dark Forest" and the "Sanctuary" or Enchanted forest that they finally make it into (I've included two quick video scenes from each setting right below).
I thought bringing in the aspect of the backstory not only for the Evil Queen but for all the characters, like the Huntsman, was an essential piece to the layers of the film. The film also seemed to raise not only the questions of pure inner beauty and fake outer beauty, but I saw the set up of the battles between life vs. death, religion vs. magic and faith vs selfishness.
The movie definitely left me thinking, both during and after. This may be in part because I'm taking a class on Grimm's Fairy Tales this fall, but I came home after the movie and read Grimm's version of Snow White from Maria Tatar's Grimms Tales Anthology. And really, essentially and at its core, they stayed true to the tale. The main differences are the perspective that the film takes on Snow White's character arc which in a way is much more believable in that it shows how much time passes and explains how she got into and deals with the situation she in, instead of in the text where she starts out a young girl, as she does in the film, but by the end when she meets her prince are we sure whether she's not still a 7 year old girl in the text? Also, the film creates an ambiguity in terms of who really is her prince, and if you've seen the film I would love to hear your thoughts about this! And lastly, I was intrigued by the inclusion of the village of solely women that's included in the film's story and not in the Grimm's version. These women have all marked themselves, sacrificed their outer beauty in order to stay safe from the Queen, and I thought this aspect was extremely interesting and loved those scenes.
All in all, I definitely enjoyed the film and am looking forward to watching it again once my class is done this fall and probably have new ideas and insights into my opinions of the film and the story itself. I would love to hear thoughts from anyone else who saw the film or thinking about seeing it :)
Here are two of the videos with great comments by Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron (although I don't like the setup for these two interviews in that we can't hear the questions and it creates a bit of a broken up conversation, but they are good):
Others' thoughts and reviews:
Maria Tatar from The New Yorker
James Franco piece from the Huffington Post
To end, I'll leave you with this beautiful song from the film called "Gone" by Ioanna Gika: