TITLE: Snow White: The Fairest Of Them All
STARS: Miranda Richardson, Kristin Kreuk, Warwick Davis
DIRECTOR: Caroline Thompson
So, last night I finally got round to watching this long-time resident on my Sky + planner. “A gothic horror twist on the classic fairytale” sounded like my perfect film. Naturally, I expected the traditional Grimm story but with some possible gore-sodden scenes added to a little bit of weird sexual fetishism but what I got was something different and in fact, something much deeper with a credible message lodged in its heart.
Snow White’s widowed father is granted three wishes by a devilish spirit, which sees him become king next to a queen, who has been granted her beauty by the same spirit. On smashing her magic mirror, the shards of glass fly across the kingdom, a fragment settling in the king’s eye and another in his heart. As Snow White grows into the beautiful princess she is, the queen’s jealousy is ignited and her wrath is emitted, when she recklessly uses a bewitched handheld mirror to curse innocents, causing Snow White to flee into the forest. The rest is pretty much written. Oh, except for the fact that the prince has been turned into a bear and one of the dwarves is actually quite a tall man!
The subplot of the dwarves, each dressed in a colour of the rainbow and named after a day of the week, keeps the film funny and light-hearted, while the main story clearly deals with some pretty dark stuff. In fact, an example of each of the deadly sins can be identified in this very film.
- Envy– The queen is envious of Snow White’s beauty
- Pride– The amount of mirrors and their significance in this film says it all.
- Gluttony– The queen cooks what she believes to be Snow White’s heart and feeds it to her husband. There is also the poisoned apple, of course, an example of food being deadly.
- Greed– Riches, men, beauty… the queen wants it all!
- Wrath– Again, there is plenty of anger inside that queen, particularly after learning the huntsman hasn’t done his job right.
- Sloth– There seems to be a great deal of not doing things for yourself. I guess that was authenticity with regard to the time period but it’s only after the huntsman fails that the queen gets her hands dirty.
- Lust– I have never seen such a terrified face on a young man’s face as that on Tyron Leitso’s (who plays the prince), when he realises the queen wants him. Sadly, on his wise escape, he is struck by the handheld mirror and transformed into a bear. Odd.
The film does take a little while to get into and half an hour in, you’re still wondering why one of the dwarves isn’t a dwarf and who exactly is the strange warty man, who came from under the ice but it certainly has its moments of amusement. Maybe not the sort of graphic gothic I was expecting and hoping for but plenty of magical, warped strangeness.
After studying Angela Carter, back in first term of uni, and after much thought following this, I was already aware of how dark fairytales really are. They’re full of hidden meanings and the amount of references to sex and violence shock and appal you, when you become an adult and stop taking them at face value, like you did as a kid. Thank God you did, though!
Director Caroline Thompson clearly wanted to depict the story as a fable with something left at the end for the viewer to take away and learn from, therefore putting something real into something fantastical. I believe the moral to Thompson’s film is this: be happy in the body you were born into, believe that you are the fairest of them all.