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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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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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