Sunday, 11 November 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Queen Ravenna: Men use women. They ruin us and when they are finished with us they toss us to the dogs like scraps.

Fairy tales are renowned for their ability to capture timeless truths for younger generations to enjoy. Snow White reveals the power of youth and purity and the envy it can evoke in others. Beauty and youth are blooms that reach their potent peak and then slowly begin to diminish, leaving the individual once in possession of their power, wearied and frustrated at nature’s fickle transience. This message seems even more meaningful today, in a world only growing increasingly enamoured with what it means to be young and beautiful and ever fatigued, even disgusted, with what it means to grow old.

The controversy surrounding Kristen Stewart’s affair with married director Rupert Sanders has eclipsed any attention the movie itself may be able to generate, as well as shattered the fantasies of Twilight fans everywhere but it’s still worth taking a look at Sanders retelling of a much loved story.

Kristen Stewart, fresh off the back of her fame as Bella Swan is endowed with an accessible girl-next-door type of pretty, and although she’s not ruby red lipped or raven haired, she does have the pale cream like complexion expected of Snow White. Charlize Theron abandons her leonine, gregarious nature to envelope herself in regal, detached, self-centred, icicle eyed beauty Queen Ravenna (like name, like nature – quite literally ravenous to consume the hearts of beauteous maidens to endow herself with their vitality). Chris Hemsworth (yes, I call him Thor too) is the solid, handsome, Neanderthal huntsman-cum-protector.

This film is visually striking, merging stark, bleak landscapes (like the woods) with fantastical, magical backdrops (like the fairies sanctuary). The language itself is poetic, simple but mesmerising, but unfortunately the film itself is forgettable. This is what I would refer to as ‘dark-lite’ storytelling; the film does centre on the darker nuances of the story, but this is ‘dark’ of the Twilight, teenage variety. Charlize is sumptuous as the beauty-mad Queen (although her accent can be a little slack at times) and the interpretation of her magic mirror is unique as is the all-female village where mothers have disfigured themselves to escape the wrath of the Queen, but the dwarves themselves (a hodgepodge of famous names including Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Nick Frost) lack the all-consuming personality you might have expected.

All in all, this is an enjoyable movie and worth watching if you keep your expectations low and lose yourself in the visual imagery and the struggle for the only power many women recognise: the ability that their beauty and sexuality has to divide nations, drive men to war and cause many to lose their minds.