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Snow White and the Huntsman - A New Look at an Old Classic

Snow White and the Huntsman

Its a universally accepted truth that all princesses in the 21st century are secretly badasses who can use knives and/or swords or ride horses bareback without ever having to be taught how.  Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman starring Kirsten Stewart (Twilight), Chris Hemsworth (Thor and The Avengers) and Charlize Theron (Monster, Hancock and In the Valley of Elah) bears out this truth in an entertaining flick.

Based on the classic tale of love, jealousy and questionable cavorting in the woods, Snow White and the Huntsman is written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini. The film is reasonably entertaining and benefits significantly from the Greig Fraser’s cinematography which fills it with which sweeping vistas and beautiful visual compositions. Indeed, he look and feel of Snow White and the Huntsman is one of its strongest elements.

Fairytale remakes are becoming as popular as super hero reboots, as Hollywood follows its mantra, when in doubt give them a story they already know and love. So, fairytales are currently getting a lot of attention both on television and on the big screen. There are currently two popular serials Grimm and Once Upon a Time both of which constantly re-imagine fairy stories and Disney’s Maleficent is on the horizon.  Indeed, Show White and the Huntsman is the second Snow White film for the year with Mirror Mirror having been released in March 2012. So, its a great time to be a character from fairy land.

Chris HemsworthIn this version, as the name suggests, the Huntsman (Hemsworth), who was a mere supporting character of the original, is the tale’s hero and next to the villain, Ravenna (Theron) he is the most interesting character in the film. Also there is no prince with necrophiliac tendencies, though there is a duke in waiting, William (Sam Claflin) who is the closest we come to that figure.

Though this is a darker visioning of the classic tale, Snow White and the Huntsman has resonances of Disney’s 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Kirsten Stewart  plays Snow White and as her performance in the Twilight series shows, she does pale very well. In truth, Stewart is a more animated in this role than she is in the Twilight films, and Snow is a passably interesting character.

As princesses are no longer mere damsels in distress sitting in towers and awaiting rescue, Snow White has to rescue herself, which therefore deviates from the traditional version where Snow is taken into the woods by the Huntsman. Additionally, the film is kind enough to give her a real reason for passing out in the woods as opposed to just letting her suffer from white-girl-running-disease and falling and passing out at the worst possible moment. Interestingly, during her imprisonment, Snow must also have been taking secret lessons in sword work because with nary a pause she becomes a sword-wielding warrior who can apparently swash-buckle with the best of them. 

Theron’s performance as the witch/queen, occasionally manages to be deliciously evil, but mostly she appears to be a little over the top. Snow White and the Huntsman provides Ravena with a bit of a backstory and explains why she is so obsessed with beauty (but then we all knew that). Interestingly, although the film makes Ravena a little more human and allows Snow White to be more than a vapid victim, it still panders to the idea that Snow White’s power lies in her beauty and her good nature, which can literally sooth the savage beast.

To say I enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman is merely to reveal my bias. In truth, while the movie is a decent effort and is certainly beautifully shot, I just really love looking at and listening to Chris Hemsworth. Essentially he had me at “Once...” and the fact that they gave him an axe simply closed the deal.