Snow White and the Huntsman
A film production of the traditional fairy story expands on the fantasy; Kristen Stewart plays a sensitive and courageous-looking Snow White, and Charleze Theron growls and hisses.
Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who’s the bitchiest of them all? ‘You are, Charleze Theron, witch queen Ravenna of Snow White and the Huntsman—‘ is what the mirror in this film wishes it could say. Wed a King; stab him in the heart; take his kingdom; stay smooth by hexing years off other females, sagging their skin and whitening their hair. Wear high collars and low-back gowns. Bathe naked in milk. Preen in a mirror from which a genie gives you life coaching; bleed mucus when pierced; become an unkindness of ravens; muster your minions by screaming, baring your whites, and expanding your nostrils. Speak RP English with a snarl. In all, resemble Queen Bavmorda from Willow (1988), but remain wrinkle-free through murderous magical make-overs. Easier than a pole vault with a hangover.
This film intertwines elements from Harry Potter, Never Ending Story (1984), Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, 300, and The Shawshank Redemption. It stars Kristen Stewart—Bella from Twlight—as Snow White, a run-away princess acting a bit like she’s low on insulin, but enigmatically, with heaving bosoms; and Charleze Theron as the witch having her flunkies give chase, wanting to remove Stewart’s heart and become immortal. Imagine a fantasy ramble, in which Stewart lopes through the poo and pee of a sewer to an ocean, to a black forest, to the world beyond. ‘Bring me the giiiirl!’ Theron rages. Stewart’s joined by Chris Emsworth (of Thor and The Avengers) as a huntsman, and the pair meet dwarves, a troll, squirrels, and a white stag.
If ‘fairy’ tales distil societal topics into pseudo-parables—whose original ‘conte de fées’ reworked folk tales into ‘sly comments on the conditions of aristocratical life,’ according to US author Terri Windling—the Snow White tale tells a story of a ruler who prioritises a personal, murderous sexual agenda; chaos ensues, and a princess atones by roughing it and getting ill. It’s easy to imagine how people in positions of power today might be the subject of similar ‘sly’ reveals. A more explicit adaptation might examine homicidal sexual disputes in the lives of corporate leaders, in New York or Rio de Genero. A pretty young stepmother joins a wealthy family, inherits an attractive stepdaughter, and is not at all ‘genteel’ in removing her as a rival for ‘courtly’ (political) attention.
While Snow White and The Huntsman appears adult in its themes, for the reason of its plot heritage, it’s all about the sets, costumes, and makeup. Theron is a temptress with a hatred for authority, particularly male social inheritance, but whose revenge seems really motivated by a desire for big dresses, the play of light across her skin, and the décor of her castle-sized apartment. The plot is at its most engaging when perfect pants (Snow White) meets the dwarves, a ‘gang of thugs’ with names like ‘Muir,’ ‘Gort,’ and ‘Finn,’ who are played by Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Brian Gleeson, and other well-known actors, who use words like ‘codpiece’ and ‘shut your ugly mug’ while wearing filthy jerseys. The Snow White coma and final battle are like milestones along a familiar forest walk.
See this as a fantasy road trip and don’t expect much more, and you might be entertained. For all people write about Kristen Stewart looking spaced out, I think that, besides looking a bit spaced out at times, she has a troubled grace that gives the film charm.
Three out of five