SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
DIRECTOR: Rupert Sanders
CAST: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth,
CLASSIFICATION: 13M V
RUNNING TIME: 127 minutes
Beautifully lensed, filled with gorgeous costumes and detailed sets, this is a dark take on an old classic.
There are very few fairy tales more familiar to the broader public than that of Show White. So to make a film based on that storyline is a bold move, especially when it is released within weeks of another one, using exactly the same basis.
No matter how talented, a screenwriter couldn’t possibly come up with a twist that we cannot anticipate, but what keeps the viewer glued to the screen with this version is the gorgeously realised fantasy land.
The story is more or less the same – an evil queen takes over a kingdom and wants to kill the rightful heir to the throne in order to preserve her reign/immortality/youth/power ... take your pick, any of them work.
This version sees the huntsman sent to kill Snow White become her protector instead, gives the evil queen a back story and throws in a bit of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke for good measure.
Snow (Stewart) and the Huntsman (Hemsworth) run into the dwarves, who introduce them to an enchanted forest (which is where the Miyazaki influence comes in, with a bit of classic English myth via what felt like Kirstine Katharine Rusch’s writing. Whoever they were referencing, the screenwriters and production designers clearly love their fantasy writers and film-makers, and went all out to create a fantastical land which functions within its own logic. So, it comes across as real, even when Christianity is mixed with witchcraft and the aerial shots of dwarves traversing tall mountains make the comparison to The Lord of the Rings inevitable.)
Shots are extremely composed and it is all about the look, which is dark medieval with a touch of whimsy. The iconic imagery of the apple, the mirror, the innocent youth versus the old crone, it’s all there, Grimm updated for another generation.
All of this makes Snow White and the Huntsman a much more satisfying prospect than Mirror Mirror, which played up the laughs and was aimed at little kids anyway.
Where Julia Roberts simply went with vain and slightly dippy, Charlize Theron tries to bring a bit of oomph to the role, more in line with Sigourney Weaver’s sinister version in Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Theron only manages two notes – screaming or not screaming – but since she is practically dripping malice most of the time, she is clearly the one to hate.
This film is called Snow White and the Huntsman, so a heads up – this Snow White doesn’t wait for Prince Charming to come and find her. And luckily enough, when he does put in an appearance, he’s not a total wet blanket. Sam Claflin tries for a medieval Hawkeye effect but he comes off second best to Hemsworth who is suitably rugged as the huntsman and a much more credible strongman to rescue the damsel in distress.
Since it is Kirsten Stewart playing Snow White, comparisions to Twilight are inevitable, that Bella role that will haunt her to the end of her days as the object of affection of two opposing masculine forces.
Here she downplays the potentially ethereal nature of the character and goes for “young woman trying to find herself and save a kingdom in the process”.
Pitting the older recognised Hollywood queen versus the would-be starlet is clever and adds a touch of poignancy when the two finally have it out.
This is pure fantasy, it’s not a thesis on our obsession with youth culture nor is it an examination of where the Snow White myth fits into modern day feminism.
What the end result is is a retelling of a fairy tale that looks good and doesn’t try for more.
If you liked … Snow White: A Tale of Terror or Ever After: A Cinderella Story … you will like this.
• Tonight is offering 5 lucky readers the chance to win an exclusive Snow White and the Huntsman hamper. Each hamper consists of a strikingly bejewelled apple-shaped clutch bag - perfect for any princess in waiting - and a huntsman-styled bag for those ready to ride to the rescue of any damsel in distress.
To stand a chance of winning, all you have to do is answer this very simple question:
Who plays the evil Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman?