Snow White…and Snow White Redux

Published June 5, 2012 by Kim

My daughter loves fairy tales, as little girls do.

(Oh, who am I kidding. I love fairy tales.)

That said, we’ve seen both Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. Both, clearly, are versions of Snow White’s story. Each presents the tale in a different fashion, however. Mirror Mirror is much more lighthearted, with humor and no onscreen deaths. Huntsman, on the other hand, is significantly darker. I had to cover D.’s eyes in some places (as when the queen is eating bird hearts).

Let’s compare:

MM: Lily Collins (of the channeling-Audrey-Hepburn looks) is the delicate and gentle daughter of the King. After he weds his new bride (Julia Roberts) and promptly vanishes, she’s confined to the castle–still living in splendor–until angering the Queen by drawing the attention of a handsome Prince. Snow is banished, and the Queen’s assistant/boot-licker sent to dispatch her to the Beyond. He chickens out, sparing her life, and she stumbles upon the dwarves. For this telling, they are highwaymen, robbing travelers while wearing telescoping stilts (it’s actually cooler than that sounds). They permit her to stay with them, teaching her the ways of thievery and battle, and stand by her while she breaks the Queen’s spell over the Prince. With a kiss. (No poisoned apple-sleeping for her!)

In the end, Snow defeats the Queen (we do not see her death) after having wed her Prince and freed her father from an enchantment. Yes, she sings. (Once.)

SWATH: Kristen Stewart emotes as well as a two-by-four in her role as Snow White, leaving the weight of the film to be carried by Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth. (He could carry me anytime.) They do an excellent job, I think–Theron goes all-out Type A in need of anger management classes, and it’s a beautiful thing. Hemsworth is running with a Scottish-ish accent (it’s not absurdly thick, just noticeable in places), and does a fine job of playing tall, gorgeous, and dangerous. This version has the girl’s father killed by the evil queen on their wedding night, and Snow spends the next decade locked in a tower, with only a small window to show her the outside world. She escapes, hides in the forest, and the huntsman is sent to retrieve her…he ends up coming to her aid, and they’re both on the lam. Along the way, they meet up with the Prince and Snow gets poisoned.

This time, the Prince kisses her…and nothing happens. It requires the Huntsman’s kiss to wake her.

Alas, that’s all we get of that. The film ends with Snow White leading a small army against the queen, overthrowing and killing her, and instilling Snow in her rightful place as ruler. She looks out over the adoring crowd, where the Prince is smiling, and sees the Huntsman in the rear of the room. Roll credits.

I loved Mirror because it so light–sometimes, a little Bollywood-style closing scene is just what you need. It was very much a cotton candy kind of movie (though, I confess, the costuming was out of this world), but it was an enjoyable one. I didn’t really have a dislike for it–it’s too light and fluffy to really dislike. There’s not enough meat on it to have issues.

I loved Huntsman because of the supporting cast (Theron and Hemsworth). They take something that’s been done nearly to death and make it good. My problem with Huntsman? Snow White wasn’t exactly the “strong” female character we believed we would see. When she escapes the castle, she knows how to 1) build a fire and 2) ride a horse. Both useful things, but not exactly the warrior-princess I expected. (The posters and trailers suggested a lot more.) There wasn’t even a “training the princess for war” scene! We’re left with a couple of moments where she learns from the Huntsman, and the rest is her staring prettily at something. (Mostly. There’s a lot of her looking…well, constipated.) This is not a strong female lead. Everything she achieves is through the efforts of someone else–usually someone male. She needs the Huntsman, the dwarves, the Prince (and his father) along every step of the way.

I suppose the only consolation is that no one did all of it for her, instead. That counts, right?

There was one final thing that bugged me: not getting a resolution on whether it’s the Prince or the Huntsman who has her heart. I understand the message is that she doesn’t need to have a king, that she can (and needs) to do this on her own (for a while, at least). Even so–why relegate her to the myth that a woman must be single and childless in order to succeed? There are times when marriage and children can be hindrance, but it’s not an absolute. Marriage does not alway equal “at a standstill” in life. I can only presume the film ends this way for two reasons: 1) to let girls imagine which one she chooses, while 2) subtly reinforcing the idea that marriage comes when you’re older. Currently, the IMDb states a sequel is in development. If it happens, I’ll see it–if only to see how they show What Comes Next.

Ugh. I’m still not happy. Not showing her choice seems like such a cop-out. And I was also really hoping to see Snow kick some butt.

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