Thursday, 28 June 2012

Another look in the mirror

Today's title refers to the most recent film I've seen: "Snow White and the Huntsman." After seeing it the other night, I'd like to share a few of my thoughts with you. To keep things organized, I've decided to list them and give a (relatively) short explanation under each one. Feel free to debate and add your opinion!
    Doesn't look like much of a castle-stormer to me!
  1. Kristen Stewart as Snow White: I know that this casting choice presented a major obstacle for many movie-goers. Between the "Oh please, that emotionless Twilight girl?" and the "Who do they think will find HER prettier than Charlize Theron," there was a fair amount of negativity surrounding Stewart's position as the title character. I myself am not a huge fan of Twilight. I mildly appreciate the movies, but to be honest, it's because of the filming style and excellect, excellent scores and soundtracks. However, I feel like Stewart really turned it out for this film. She was a whole new model for Snow White, and although she didn't exactly take my breath away with her sheer talent, she did display much more feeling than in the Twilight series. She brought a tougher modern vibe to the film (à la her role as Joan Jett in "The Runaways"), which certainly helped make it more believable for me when she later donned a suit of armour, stormed a castle, and helped to battle the Evil Queen's army.
  2.  The inclusion of Christianity:When Kristen Stewart's Snow White began her fervent recitation of the Lord's Prayer in her opening scene in the tower, it threw me for a minute. Before I go any further, I just want to make it clear that I mean no offense to anyone's religious beliefs, I'm simply examining this topic as an interesting film interpretation. As a scene, I think it completely makes sense that Snow White would be praying for herself and/or her deceased parents. It shows a demonstration of faith, devotion, and mild mannered kindness, several of which qualities we would expect from a heroine. However, many of such traditional fairy tales (the most popular version of Snow White comes from the German Brothers Grimm) are markedly pagan, for example in the practice of dark magic and witchcraft. I feel that it might not quite have made sense to superimpose Christianity over such an old and oft-told tale of which it had never previously been an element. The film also appeared to contridict itself as after setting Snow White up as a Christian, they introduced the magical white deer with tree branches for antlers. The awe displayed before this apparently never-before-seen animal struck me as though the deer must be intended to be, on some level, godlike. So, either "Snow White and the Huntsman" is breaking new ground by attempting to reconcile or consolidate paganism and Christianity, or the audience is meant to view the deer as a kind of rare manifestation of God for the purpose of blessing the Christian heroine on her journey. The second option does clearly recall for me the literary tradition of the Christian epic (see Paradise Lost or  The Faerie Queene), but I think you could make a case for either.
  3. What was missing: As much as I can appreciate "Snow White and the Huntsman" as a "main movie theatre attraction for summer 2012", I can't help but also compare it to the Snow White story I know and love. I am not getting into the Brothers Grimm here; I can respect them as authors, but I've never found any of their works particularly warm and fuzzy or well suited to the modern, unharassed, mentally stable child. This comparison is based off of straight up Disney. First of all, Kristen Stewart's Snow White was frequently strong willed with an occasional splash of badass, which totally worked for her own edgy persona. However, it also made me long for the good old Snow White. You know, tying her hair back in a bow, singing into the wishing well, giggling with the forest critters, the whole bit. Snow White is the uber-femme when it comes to heroines. I'm all for her growing a bit of a backbone, but moments when Stewart's character did this seemed a little patchy and inconsistent. I'm just saying, if you're going to be a proto-feminist, don't only go halfway. If you're not up to this, fill in those spaces with some classic Snow White gentleness and kind-hearted behaviour; unless you're giving us something we really need (a hardcore feminist Snow White might have been fun, right?), please don't reinvent the wheel.
    • Also, why didn't they show the apple after she bit it in that dramatic winter-wonderland-turned-seedy-seduction scene? This is not as big of a deal as Snow White needing to figure out where she stands as a model of femininity, but I remember (again, we're talking Disney here) the apple roling out of that poor girl's hand as the most shocking and tragic moment of the movie. I wasn't thrilled when Stewart's poisoned apple turned into the facsimile of a woodland dust bunny when it could have instead been cast away by her with the last ounce of her strength before she died. Seriously.
    • Finally, I found it strange that no one really inquired as to how Snow White came back from the dead. It's obvious to us (plus we were expecting it) that it was the huntsman's kiss of true love that broke the spell (I found this so-called affection came cross very weakly in the film, but I won't get into that), but in the film, he doesn't seem to ever become aware of this. William knows he couldn't bring her back, the huntsman was drunk and in despair when he kissed her (not to mention that he didn't stick around to watch the magic trick, or the "prestige"[term appropriated from the film of the same name]), and Snow White just woke up alone in a huge chamber so there's no way SHE knew what was going on. The moment sort of lost its romantic potential for me and the huntsman continued to seem like more of a guardian/big brother figure to our heroine because he was distanced from it.
Back with a vengence?
Well, that went on for considerably longer than I thought it would! If you've read it all, please let me know what you think. I really love seeing your opinions!

-C 

8 comments:

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  3. This is such a good post and I agree with a lot of what your saying! I did enjoy the film but there were bits I would have changed :)

    Tanesha x
    www.tanesha-marie.blogspot.co.uk

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much for reading through it! Yeah, I definitely feel the same way :)

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  4. really nice blog! stop by anytime :)
    xoxo Sienna
    www.fashionintheair.com

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  5. Beautiful blog, such an interesting read.
    Anna

    http://opshopaholic.blogspot.co.nz/

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, I really appreciate that.

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