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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Snow White and the Huntsman

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

The "Fairest One of All" morphs into a butt-kicking warrior princess in "Snow White and the Huntsman" (Universal), the latest and darkest take yet on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale first published 200 years ago.

In a sharp contrast to spring's campy comedy "Mirror Mirror," first-time director Rupert Sanders colors the classic good-vs.-evil fable with splashes of gothic horror and extreme violence, which make this rather grim (no pun intended) film unsuitable for young children. The battle scenes in this action-adventure would not look out of place in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy—nor would the religious imagery, unusual for a Hollywood blockbuster.

This time around, instead of Julia Roberts we have Charlize Theron who chews up the scenery as the wicked Queen Ravenna. A master of sorcery who commands a phantom army, she seduces and marries King Magnus (Noah Huntley), then slays him and takes his throne, forcing his happy kingdom into painful submission.

It's only a matter of time before that Magic Mirror warns the Queen of someone fairer, her stepdaughter Snow White (Kristen Stewart of "Twilight" fame), imprisoned in the tower.

Not so fast. Snow White fervently prays the Our Father as she awaits her chance to escape. It comes, and with the help of a conveniently appearing white horse, she flees to the forest.

"After her!" the Queen commands the big lug of a Huntsman, Eric (Chris Hemsworth). He complies, only to later take pity on the fugitive and spare her life.

It is here that the screenplay, by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock ("The Blind Side") and Hossein Amini ("Drive") veers even further away from the traditional fairy tale. The erstwhile assassin joins forces with the princess and skills her in swordplay and the art of war. Then the dynamic duo sets off in search of an army to vanquish the Queen and reclaim the kingdom.

Along the way, they run into the dwarfs, all eight of them (another change), headed by Beith (Ian McShane). Intriguingly, they are played by men who are not vertically challenged in real life, but transformed by movie magic. They live in the Sanctuary, an enchanted part of the forest filled with fairies and magical creatures.

Skilled as gold miners, the dwarfs possess a special gift: They can see light in the darkness. In Snow White they see light, a kind of messiah, a point confirmed by the appearance of the White Hart, an albino stag that kneels before her and offers his "blessing."

"She's the one," says Muir (Bob Hoskins), the blind spiritual leader of the dwarfs. "She will heal her kind."

As Snow White dons her shiny armor and finds her inner Joan of Arc, "Snow White and the Huntsman" barrels towards a climactic battle royal.

At this point, you may be wondering: Where's the handsome Prince (Sam Clafin)? In this film, he's called William, is a duke and arrives late in the game. He's still madly in love with Snow White (they were childhood pals), but she seems only to have eyes for the Huntsman.

In the end, "Snow White and the Huntsman" is an entertaining romp with a strong sense of right and wrong. Parents should be warned that the film's dark tone and excessive bloodshed could be nightmare-inducing for the younger set.

The film contains intense action violence and brutality, scenes of sorcery, and some mild sensuality. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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