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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Mirror, Mirror

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

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 smiling.
 
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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