By Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
This fantasy romantic version of the fairy tale is based on
“Snow White” collected and published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. But be sure
to set aside all previous telling in movies, television, video games and
fiction. This new imagining of the tale is a visual and melodic fusion of east
and west that may surprise you but most certainly you will leave the theater
The Queen (Julia Roberts) is self satisfied, proud, and
broke. Brighton (Nathan Lane), her servant, seems willing to do her bidding but
isn’t quite up to the job. A much older neighboring monarch comes to visit the
Queen and wants to marry her so both their kingdoms will thrive.
Snow White (Lily Collins) is just turning 18. She ventures
into her stepmother’s chess party, that is the Queen’s party, and she is
dismissed. Snow has been locked in her room for most of her life, ever since
her father the King (Sean Bean) left the castle shortly after marrying the new
Queen. The King disappeared and is resumed dead. At the suggestion of one of
the cooks Snow decides to disobey the queen and go for a stroll throughout the
kingdom to see the plight of the people.
Just then the Prince of Valencia (Armie Hammer) makes his
entrance to the throne room with his manservant. A band of disguised dwarfs on stilts robbed
and strung them upside down from a tree in the forest. A beautiful young woman
rescued them but they do not know who she was.
The queen quickly sets her sights on the prince and goes to
consult her mirror that is hidden in a hut in the middle of a lake. She is
talking to a better image than herself but she does not listen very well. She
is determined to destroy Snow White who is now hiding with the dwarfs.
This version of the Snow White fairy tale is highly crafted,
beautifully and overly costumed, funny and threatening in turn. It aims to be
family fare and I think it achieves this goal though the dwarves on stilts and
some of the forest scenes are menacing. This reflects authenticity though the
tropical huts, costumes and cast give the story more of world culture flair.
And yes, Snow White and the Prince save one another bringing
the fairy tale up-to-date and everyone lives happily ever after so there’s no
surprise there. But Julia Roberts as the queen is positively wicked and
pitiable at the same time. Armie Hammer, as director Tarsem Singh, Julia
Roberts and Lily Collins affirmed at the press day for the film, is a very good
sport in the film. As tall and handsome as he is everyone picks on him and he
weathers this with dignity and humor.
The first thing you must do when you enter the theater is to
suspend all disbelief. The second is that you must stay
for the ending credits; this is where the Snow White story takes on an entirely
new dimension. My hunch is that you will not only leave the theater with a
smile but you might be singing as well.
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