Mon
Jun 4 2012 11:30am

So... Did You Understand Snow White and the Huntsman?

Snow White and the Huntsman

With the promise of two Snow White tales in theaters this year, it seemed inevitable that one would turn out disappointing and the other would rise above and get everyone excited about the possibilities that fairy tales still offer film. Following the tragedy of Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman was perfectly poised to be “the one” audiences had been waiting for.

Long story short: we shouldn’t have gotten our hopes up. Because the problem with the movie hinged on a crucial, maddening mistake — the screenwriters of this film had clearly never created a fantasy world in their lives, and made no effort to figure out how they should go about it.

You saw the trailer and you were excited, so let me first explain that what you saw in that beautiful teaser is nothing like the movie that ended up on screen. That trailer was created by someone very clever who obviously knew what the world wanted more than the filmmakers did. But the myriad of ways in which this movie falls on its face are so unbelievable that we’re going to need another blow by blow. Prepare yourself.

Spoilers.

Snow White’s mother wished for a girl with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, hair as black as a raven, and a spirit strong as a rose in winter. We’re later led to believe that this wish she made was somehow magic, even though she cast no spell. Snow White grows up spirited all right... though we don’t exactly know how she’s spirited. We’re simply told she is through a long, arduous monologue delivered by Chris Hemsworth in a spectacular new brogue. (Honestly, his non-Thor accent may be the only worthwhile part of the film.)

Her mom dies, her dad is seduced by a new woman who he decides to marry the day after meeting her (because it’s a fairy tale, I guess, and we should suspend our disbelief?), and she becomes queen. She’s Charlize Theron! And she tells little Snow that she thinks they are bound in their hearts. The tiny princess likes her new step mommy. Aw.

Snow White and the Huntsman

But then step mommy (I’m sorry, her name is Ravenna) has her first night of wedded bliss with the king and lets him in on a little secret: in the last kingdom she resided in, she got rid of the king’s old wife and then stole his throne. She sucks her new king’s life from him while explaining that men use women until they’re not pretty anymore, and so she will prevent that. She murders him, lets in her army — which appears to be about 40 guys with crossbows — and takes over.

Interesting, you might say. Is this tale a commentary on how women often feel used for nothing more than their beauty and therefore chose to think of it as power? Good try. But mostly it just gives the queen a reason to be crazy. She’s secretly paranoid that every handsome guy is just an evil heartbreaker, and punishes everyone as a result. Then she screams at them a lot.

The duke’s young son William wants to go back for Snow White during the battle, but the duke runs with his boy while there’s still time. Snow White (now Kristen Stewart) grows up locked in a high tower, the whole kingdom thinking she’s dead. She prays around tiny fires that she makes in her cell while she clutches little stick dolls. (I think the dolls are supposed to be her parents?) Another awkward misstep: we’re never given any indication as to what the heck Christianity is doing in a world like this. And it is flat out Christianity, not some special hybrid created for a new world. Snow White uses Bible-perfect prayer, but this is a land that clearly has magic in it. How does that go together? We’re never told.

Snow White and the Huntsman

The queen keeps using up young women — sucking the life out of them to stay young — but she has a magic mirror thing (that came from somewhere, I’m sure) that has a figure in it that only she can see (for some reason), and it tells her that now Snow White has come of age, she’s prettier. Because she’s prettier, she can defeat the queen, but if the queen kills her and holds her heart, then she’ll be immortal. ...Right. Time to kill the kid. One wonders why she kept the girl alive in the first place.

We get background on Ravenna later in the film and find that her mother was a sorceress who cast a spell on her daughter to keep her alive when their tiny village was ravaged by some mean king. The spell indicates that her beauty is actual power and will keep her safe, and only “fairest blood” can undo the spell. But apparently she only gets to keep her beauty power if she stays pretty by sucking life out of people like a Youth Dementor. Is this magic system convoluted enough for you yet? Mind you, most of this is not actually explained, you have to infer it. It might even be something entirely different that’s equally difficult to understand.

The queen sends her creepy brother (Sam Spruell) to fetch Snow White for reaping, and just to make sure you know what kind of movie they’re trying to make, her brother does indeed want to rape Snow White. Because Game of Thrones does it, so we should be equally gritty! But Snow White magically found a rusty nail right outside her tiny window moments before his visit — yes, magically, a magical bird showed her it was there — so she stabs him in the face and escapes!

...into the Dark Forest, where hallucinogens in the plants make her terrified and then make her collapse.

Snow White and the Huntsman

The queen has no powers there (natch) so it’s time to get a guy who knows the area to take them there. Enter the Huntsman. He’s an alcoholic because he’s a widower, and definitely has nothing to live for, so why not go into the woods? He also happens to be the only character in the story with an explained emotional arc, even if it is the most clichéd one they could come up with. He finds Snow, realizes something is up, turns on the queen’s brother and helps her escape the forest. So the creepy forest wasn’t really important, it just got him to the party. He also gives the princess exactly one piece of fighting advice, so clearly that will be important later.

A moment for Kristen Stewart as Snow White. No, you know what, let’s not give her a moment because she spends the entire film caught between two facial expressions and couldn’t make you care about this character if the director had tied injured, mewing kittens to her ankles for the duration of her journey. She also manages to have no chemistry with either love interest set up for her. (How someone can act opposite Chris Hemsworth and not know how to make eyes at the guy is beyond me, no matter how scruffy the makeup department made him. Actually, the scruff works for him, so it’s even more confusing.)

Snow White and the Huntsman

About that other love interest: the duke’s son, William (Sam Claflin), finds out that Snow is alive and runs away to find her because he’s never forgiven his dad for leaving her. Daddy duke has an army that has been trying to fight the queen all these years. William joins the queen’s brother in the hunt for Snow White, posing as a mercenary. Caught up? Good, because it’s important somehow.

The Huntsman almost leaves Snow White with a community of women (who scar their faces so the queen won’t kill them) because he’s full of angst and manpain and can’t take it, but then the queen’s brother attacks and he comes back to rescue her. They flee and get caught by dwarfs. The band of seven includes the likes of Nick Frost, Ian McShane, Toby Jones, Ray Winstone, and Bob Hoskins. (Hoskins is a blind dwarf who has magic truth-sight powers! Shock!) And they do absolutely nothing for this movie. It’s so depressing, it’ll make you cry. They might as well just meld into one dwarfy character. Mega-Dwarf? Or better yet, we should trade them for the dwarfs in Mirror Mirror who deserved more screentime, and were all unique characters in their own right.

Snow White and the Huntsman

The dwarfs somehow know the Huntsman (in fact, most people seem to know him for no reason at all,) and they take the two into a happy enchanted forest full of fairies and butterflies and bunnies. Note: this is not an exaggeration. In fact, the film is full of crazy magic visuals that are never addressed to assist the audience in understanding the world better; at one point, the queen takes a plaster bath that has no named function in the story whatsoever, but boy does it look impressive. I would praise the movie for not shying away from fairy tale magic and silly fantastical environment tropes, but after trying to make the world look so gritty, I can’t tell what we’re supposed to be taking seriously. (Answer: EVERYTHING.)

Snow White and the Huntsman

So the happy forest gets even prettier and Snow White finds a White Stag who bows to her and Head Dwarf Hoskins realize that she’s “life itself” and is healing the land, which is why she’ll defeat the queen and—

Whoa, HOLD THE TELEGRAPH.

Snow White is life? What does that mean? Is that was happens when queens wish for babies in this world? Was there a really important prophecy about this that we missed somewhere in that five-hour prologue? Does that mean she’s God, since they all practice Christianity? Does that mean that Ravenna literally encapsulates death then and, if so, why?

Ugh, you know what, this just isn’t worth it.

The queen’s brother comes back to bug them, the Huntsman kills him, one of the dwarfs is killed, and William joins the merry band. William and Snow talk on their own and flirt, and Snow kisses him. He hands her an apple (he used to tease her about apples when they were kids), she takes a bite and it’s poison! And William is actually asleep at the camp with the boys — this was the queen. Which means that the only romantic scene in the film thus far actually takes place between two women. Which would be interesting if that move was intentional, but it clearly wasn’t. The Huntsman and William disperse the queen before she can get Snow’s heart, and she turns into a swarm of ravens! (Get it? Ravenna? Ravens? Never mind.)

Snow White and the Huntsman

William kisses Snow White’s lifeless body and they take her back to the duke’s fortress. She lies there in a white dress, and the Huntsman gets drunk and talks about how she reminds him of his dead wife who made him a better person, and he’s so sorry he failed them both. We never find out exactly how he failed his wife, but he does kiss Snow White and he cries, and she cries, and he leaves the room, and—oh, she’s alive! Obviously. Because of the whole crying thing.

I get it. They thought they were cleverly subverting the story expectations — true love’s kiss was a drunken commoner with a heart of gold, not a prince! But we’ve been given no romance to latch onto. They’ve spoken about ten sentences to each other total, most of them involving running and hiding. I find myself desperately reaching for some emotional impact by staring as hard as I can into Chris Hemsworth’s sorrowful blue eyes, but it’s just not happening.

Snow White does know how to defeat the queen now, though. Somehow, through being Mostly Dead all day. (I think what she actually meant was that she magically saw that she was only one who could kill the queen, but she doesn’t say that.) So she goes out to talk to the duke’s men and galvanize them into a fight. The people subdue their shock at her resurrection and are treated to a monologue that was clearly meant to go down in history books as the one time we allowed a woman to give the Eve of War speech. We’re supposed to be thinking Aragorn, maybe, before the final battle in Return of the King. But it doesn’t come off very well when the gist of the whole thing is, “Iron can melt, but iron will writhe inside itself, but iron can forge swords too, so we will forge iron swords and I’m here to be your sword, and who will ride with me?

The speech is literally that incoherent. I can’t believe those words made it into a final draft of anything.

Snow White and the Huntsman

So the army gets together, and they go to fight the queen’s forces (now about 40 guys on 60 guys?), and Snow makes it to the queen and decides it’s really smart to throw her shield on the ground before facing her. And they fight, and the queen rages, and then Snow White uses that special one move the Huntsman taught her at the beginning of the film to knife the queen in the chest, and we’re all good. Then Snow White gets coronated and looks out over the throne room to all her friends, and the Hunstman enters at the back eventually, looking much cleaner. And... that’s the end.

Nope, that’s all, folks.

I guess they felt that Snow White proved she had all that spirit and could definitely lead an army to war. At least, that’s what everyone in the film kept saying, even though she spent most of it scared silent and letting handsome men help her across brooks. Shame on the producer of Alice in Wonderland (2010) for thinking that this was any kind of follow up. Regardless of how you felt about Burton’s take on Carroll, there can be no doubt that Alice stepped into that armor with purpose, and actually had a character to speak of.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman is depressing on so many levels, the worst one being how hard certain actors are trying to make it work. (Hemsworth, Theron, Hoskins, I’m mainly looking at you.) Sure, the movie would have benefitted from some humor, maybe a little less random trekking through the mountains and a whole lot less CGI badgers, but what it needed more than anything was the most basic world-building and a marginally clever plot that wouldn’t make the original Disney cartoon look genius by comparison. These things shouldn’t be so difficult. I find myself in the position of having to give Mirror Mirror more credit than I did before — at least it was entertaining. This was truly not.

It looks like we’ll be waiting at least another decade before a screen treatment of Snow White attempts to awe us again. 2012, you’ve let us down.


Emily Asher-Perrin is still trying to figure out what that plaster bath did. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

54 comments
Robert H. Bedford
1. RobB
A moment for Kristen Stewart as Snow White. No, you know what, let’s not give her a moment because she spends the entire film caught between two facial expressions and couldn’t make you care about this character if the director had tied injured
She was terrible, wasn't she? Those two facial expressions (1) 'emoting' / about to cry (2) looking as if she smelled dog poo (or her performance).

I got the feeling her dialogue was trimmed alot because well, she can't act.

I mean, she is the title character and there's nothing special about her to make us believe she's special. Beauty is subjective and all, but I just don't buy her as more beautiful than Thereon. Neither character had any real motivation other than I WANT TO BE PRETTY FOREVER and I WANT MY DADDY'S HOUSE BACK!!

Neat looking movie though.
tatiana deCarillion
2. decarillion
Disappointed to read this :( I was crossing my fingers that this would be good, based on the trailer. Judging from this review, it sounds like the trailer and the film were apples and oranges, though!
sofrina
3. sofrina
i nearly fell asleep three times before the plot got going. as the credits rolled, i seriously considered asking out loud if anyone had enjoyed that. it was so bad i completely tuned out the ending. she stands up and... some very nicely styled end credits with great music roll. so glad i didn't pay full price.

emily, your points are spot on. how on earth does all this magic work in a christian world? why didn't they just go with an allegory of christianity? or just make a firm set of fantasy rules? who was the "it's him" stag with branches for antlers? aslan? how does a chick with so many man issues have a rapist for a brother? why didn't she kill him years ago?

this was easy to misunderstand but i think the paraffin/milk bath scene was to demonstrate the peasants were fighting to...drink her bathwater. which ravenna thought was a kindness. i did get the life metaphor since ravenna seemed to scorch the earth with her magic. the entire kingdom withered under her poisonous reign, etc. and the huntsman let his wife down by not being there to protect her when the king's brother attacked her.

horrible, uneven, confusing movie.
sofrina
4. bksgoddess
Too say nothing of having a supposed love triangle & doing absolutely nothing with it!
I have yet to see anything that proves Kristen Stewart can act.
sofrina
5. Earl Rogers
Speaking as someone who's read the Bible, magicians and other people capable of doing marvellous, unexplained things (attributed usually to spirits) are depicted in some of the various records. This in addition to the prophets, angels, etc depicted as having power from God.

I'm not saying this means SWatH is a good film, just that that might not be such a clash as you think
sofrina
6. JasonD
The black hole of talentlessness that is Kristen Stewart could suck in Thor's hammer, she is THAT bad. She really does have only 2 expressions: Stare Blankly, and Stare Blankly While Chewing Lower Lip. That is IT. And we are supposed to buy into the fact that she is more beautiful than Charlize Theron? Sorry, not interested. It seems like this is totally tanking at the box office anyway, so hopefully we'll never have to see her again once they get the last twilight film out of the way, and no one who watches those piles of @$$ are looking at her anyway, unless it's with hatred or jealousy for wanting to be the filling in the middle of a Pattinson-Lautner sandwich.

And the other truly insulting thing is the Magic vs Christianity thing. If the Queen's whole motivation is female empowerment, and Snow White prays to God-the-father-of-Christ, and of course the Queen bites it in the end, then this just reeks of "Church good, Pagan bad" and the death of female empowerment. Maybe it shouldn't be a coincidence that they cast to play Snow White a girl who's entire career will be known for playing a character who is hopelessly dependent on really creepy men?
sofrina
7. John C. Bunnell
One thing:

I don't necessarily have trouble with a world in which the Christian faith and working magic both exist. There are, after all, neo-pagan practitioners in the real world who necessarily believe this very thing, and publishers who make it their business to supply them with nonfiction books on practicing magick-with-a-k. See also Katherine Kurtz's Deryni cycle, which juxtaposes medieval Christianity with a complicated magical system that is partially defined by Christian-themed ritual but not entirely constrained by it.

Now if you have a world in which the Bible is shown to be literally true, and non-Christian magic also works -- that would be a world-building problem.
Dave Thompson
8. DKT
I haven't seen this one - but what's interesting to me is that while Stewart obviously isn't very well-liked by a lot of us, the Box Office success of this movie seems to make the media (and perhaps the sudios) believe that Stewart is the one who opened this movie.

Which I find odd, because I wonder how many people are actually seeing it because she's acting in it. I imagine some are, but would suspect that there are more seeing it for Theron or Hemsworth, and even more because the studio managed to cut together a pretty wicked trailer that looked appealing.
Irene Gallo
9. Irene
Lalalalala - I'm not listening, I'm not listening!

I rarely go to movies that i know are gping to be bad - life is too short -- but this one just looked so cool. I'll brave it and then say, “Why didn’t I listen!”
sofrina
10. Halibulu
I'll be the first guy to admit that prior to discovering Tor.com (and dragonmount.com as well I suppose) and reading the blogs therein, I never paid much attention into the way women were cast in literature and film, and by that I mean it didn't matter to me if their roles were marginalized and/or every other disservice that is done to them on a relentlessly consistent basis. I was content to read/watch things and enjoy them without digging deeper,. Enter the world of blogs.

This movie will be ripped apart over and over for several reasons, but the one thing that stood out to me (besides the God awful battle tactics. Headlong cavalry rushes are all we know, even when storming castles?) was that village of scarred women.

When we meet them they're all holding bows, looking extremely badass in poses and costumes that made me think "they're freaking Aiel warriors! Maidens of the spear!" But as soon as the band of (what 10 mercenaries maybe?) surprise attack them at night, suddenly no one knows how to fight, and its all women running around, now in dresses, wailing in distress, and all weapons and aura of badass we can protect ourselves forgotten. But don't worry, Chris Hemsworth sees the flames and comes rushing back to fight off the mercenaries and save all the suddenly helpless women who 15 minutes ago looked like they would have put him or any man with bad intentions through their paces and ate 'em for breakfast.

Maybe its the influence of reading these TOR blogs, but this stood out to me largest, and for this guy here who once upon a time could care less if women were strong or not in movies and books, it just seemed, well, sad and pathetic and a missed chance to make a statement. (Funny thing is I've always loved my women strong spirited in real life. Go figure)

ps
I also found Kristen Stewarts level of fitness and capacity for swimming in the ocean laughable when you consider she spent the bulk of her life in a small tower cell.
Bryan Schenk
11. Damplander
I watched this movie over the weekend and I mostly agree with the original post. I did want to point out that after Snow woke up from being dead she knew how to defeat Ravenna because as she was dying from the poison apple Ravenna told her that she was the only one who could defeat her with her "fairest blood". So they used the utterly cliche moment of the villian explaining their plan to the good guy! Pretty much sums up the capability of the writing team if there was one on this movie.
sofrina
12. LoriC
Saw it last night.. Agree with prior posts about Kristen's lack of acting skills.. I felt zero emotional connection between Kristen and either of the two men who were part of the supposed 'love triangle.' Speaking of which, does Kristen Stewart have some sort of contractual clause that obligates screenwriters and directors to have her always be part of a love triangle, always being the simlutaneous love interest of two men? WTF.. Stewart fairer than Theron? Please. Only for the fanboys of planet Twilightlandia.. Theron's performance was too outlandish, Stewarts can't even be considered a performance. On the plus side: Theron looks great, Chris does a solid job with the crap script, and the CGI team at least earned their paychecks. Few else did.
sofrina
13. Gerry__Quinn
A lot of popular fairy-tales were invented or evolved in medieval Christian Europe. I don't think it's any problem for Christianity and magic to co-exist in them. Lots of folk believed in both God and fairies.
Harry Burger
14. Lightbringer
@13 Fairy tales were based on the pre-Christian religions, used as a way to subvert the authority of the Church and keep the old stories alive by not teaching the stories as religion per se. The Catholic Church let most of the peoples they conquered keep doing the same rituals as before, as long as they changed the words and paid lip service to the Christian God. After they cut down their groves of sacred trees and built a Catholic church on the same spot, then threatened the people with death if they didn't go to Church on "holy days of obligation" that were scheduled for the same day as major holidays in the old faith.

After all, where are the bunny rabbits and colored eggs in the Bible story of the Resurrection? A wreath of evergreen lit with candles makes much more sense for a winter solstice ritual than a baby being born.
Margot Virzana
15. LuvURphleb
K ste seems to be in a lot a movies and yet only displays the one look. Just the one. The utter revulsion of life and everything about it. She looks sick when edward professes his love, looks sick when thor guards/stands in front by tree. Always looks naseous and never looks at the audience.
Sorry k ste but ive seen jawas give more emotional looks.
Mari Ness
16. MariCats
I don't think the issue is really fairy tales versus Christianity -- the two have certainly co-existed in the past and will continue to co-exist in the future.

Within the film, though, the problem is that the film shows Snow White reciting the Lord's Prayer -- fine, if perhaps (definitely) pulling from other more interesting scenes (well, to be fair, the film didn't have that many of those). About an hour or so later, the film shows Snow White as a pagan figure able to restore life to the world, with fairies and mushrooms bowing down to her.

Either one on its own might have worked. (Well, our audience laughed at the mushrooms and the elk thing, but that might have been just us.) But showing a character reciting the Lord's Prayer in one scene, only to become a pagan figure in a following scene, with absolutely no sense of how she got from one place to the other, didn't work.
sofrina
17. rxa
The stag scene seemed taken straight out of Princess Mononoke.
Caroline E Willis
18. CEWillis
I've jut had the surreal experience of the reviewer marking out nearly everything I enjoyed about the movie as a flaw.

I think that you and I had very different hopes or expectations; I am a huge folklore nerd, and as such, I found Snow White and the Huntsman to be a feast.

For example, the bird leading Snow White to the nail bothered you, and seemed completely without context. However, the donor motif ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donor_(fairy_tale) ) is common in European folklore, and includes animals coming back to the help you after you've helped them (the karmic return of Snow White helping that baby bird). I squeed at this bit, since it was so clearly a reference to folklore.

Another moment that seemed to come out of left field for you was the scene with the White Hart. But White Harts are a huge part of Northern European mythic traditions ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_stag#Myth_and_legend ), and the fact that Snow White-as-queen would heal the land after Ravenna-as-queen is clearly a reference to another old belief, that of the ruler-as-the land ( http://ravenfamily.org/andyg/kingland.htm ). If anything, I felt the narrative from the dwarves was making things a bit too obvious, but considering your experience and those of some commenters, perhaps not.
sofrina
19. wcarter4
There is room in (especially early) Judeo-Christian lore for "magic". It normally is powered by demons but, like everyone else said, that doesn't make this film any less crappy or confusing.

I have to agree with Jason D Stewart is the single worst choice I can think of for an actress to ever play as the heroine.

I'm just wondering at this point if somene shoud do an experiment where they digitally replaced Kristen Stewart with a random troll face emoticon in every seen featuring her if that wouldn't make a better movie.
Marcus W
20. toryx
I really appreciate this re-cap because it totally explained things that I missed. There was so much whispering! The only thing that was spoken above a whisper was the crazy ass speech that Kristen Stewart gave in the end that was so bad that I found myself wishing they'd go back to the whisper.

I laughed out loud at the end though. It seemed just as though they'd saved the best speech of the entire film for that last moment as Snow White gazes at her cleaned-up Huntman from across the room. Only Kristen Stewart did such a terrible job of it that they ended up cutting it from the film entirely.

Which, given the rabble-rousing speech of 20 minutes earlier, must have been a whole new level of bad.

The other thing I loved? No one called her Snow. Or White. Or Snow White. Which makes sense, because it's a terrible name, but still it tickled my fancy.

I did enjoy Hemsworth, though, and I thought that it was fun to see Ian McShane talking again.
Emily Asher-Perrin
21. EmilyAP
Hey all!

To everyone who's making the comment about Christianity and fairy tales going together all the time, I agree, they can absolutely co-exist and have well before. But, as MariCats rightfully pointed out, having your heroine go from reciting the Lord's Prayer to becoming a sort of pagan figure with no discussion of it was stretching the plot quite a bit. I'd call it lazy storytelling, but it didn't seem as though enough thought was put into it to even warrant "lazy".

@sofrina and Damplander - Good calls on the bath and villain monologuing! Though the CGI on that bath still strikes me as a little silly. And I think I was too hung up on watching Stewart pretending to choke to notice what the queen was going on about. :)

@Halibulu - I didn't feel like I had enough space to devote to those women, so thank you for bringing them up! I agree wholeheartedly. It was pretty awful how they were shrugged off.

@CEWillis - The folklore tropes were very clear, you're right. I suppose my complaint is falls along these lines: if you start out with a world that's all about being grungy and real, then bring us to a "whistle while you work" forest, that's going to give some viewers a bit of cognitive dissonance. I would have loved those shout outs if they had seemed like part of the film's overall feel and purpose, but it seemed like the writers had a fairytale and folklore encyclopedia and flipped to pages at random to select what "cool stuff" they could insert to make themselves seem more clever than they actually were. Nothing tied together to form a coherent environment for me.

It didn't help that the CGI was frankly a little hokey. Well done technically, but way too close to smiling Disney animals to be taken seriously in such a down-and-dirty place. An aesthestics issue, I'd say.
Shelly wb
22. shellywb
Why is it strange that a character is raised to be Christian, then finds out she's something other or more? This happens a lot in fantasy -- it's common in various Arthurian derivatives. It's very common in Grimm, where being good meant combining Christian values and prayers with the magic of a fairy tale. It's common in urban fantasies. Heck, I'm reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels right now and it's happening in those, not that they're great novels by any stretch of the imagination. I just find it odd that people are surprised and dismayed by something that I see so frequently.
Caroline E Willis
23. CEWillis
@Emily Re: the encycolpedia effect, I can see that. I enjoyed it, as I associate randomness with my experience of fairy tales (why the hell does the old woman live in a shoe??), but that doesn't mean it's the best asthetic choice for a movie.
Melissa Shumake
24. cherie_2137
so so so glad i read this, even with the spoiler warning. although, it doesn't feel like a lot was spoiled for me. guess i'll wait to rent it so i can ogle sam claflin and chris hemsworth and make fun of k-spew.
Mari Ness
25. MariCats
@shellywb -- It's not at all strange, and it's certainly worked in other movies and television portrayals and as you correctly point out, in many current urban fantasy books. Unfortunately, this film did a lousy job with it.
sofrina
26. wingracer
@17. rxa

I thought the exact same thing. That whole scene was Princess Mononke all over again. Of course I'm sure Myazaki borrowed aspects of the scene from other sources as well, like another poster pointed out about white harts and northern european folk lore but the similarities were just too great to be coincidence
.
sofrina
27. LoriA
There's a scene near the beginning where Snow White's mother puts her hand on her daughter's chest, and says that she is beautiful inside. I read it as Snow's outer beauty + her inner beauty combined to make K Stew more beautiful than Charlize Theron.

Also, I thought that the three drops of blood at the beginning were supposed to indicate some kind of (magical) sacrifice that gave the queen what she wanted. Ravenna's mom also used three drops of blood to cast her spell. I guess I just took for granted that Ravenna's beauty was a magical trap for the king. In fact, I was almost surprised that SW didn't need three drops of blood to kill Ravenna at the end.

My mom thought that the darker elements of the story were reverting back to Grimm, and here I was thinking of the Fisher King and the Wasteland.

I agree with CEWillis!
sofrina
29. Amanda S.
LMAO!! I saw this and many of the stuff you just said I couldn't agree with more. Kristen manage to not come off soft or tough for this movie just still her weird self and have no chemistry with neither of the love interest! That prep speech she did was so laughable actually me and my sister did laugh, but I will say I thought that Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron, hell everyone did a great job except Kristen Stewart. I heard that this is supposed to be a trilogy hmm major changes are gonna be needed for sure like remove Kristen Stewart!
sofrina
30. ibookworm
Huh. I thought it was a great movie. I even thought that Kristin Stewart was good in what the role called for, but then I haven't seen Twilight, so I don't have a pre-loaded disgust for her. :) For everyone confused about Christianty/paganism in this movie, see what C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton have written about fairy tales. They are hardly anti-Christian, or even pagan — actually, most of the classics came to us via Catholic Europe. Anyway, those three writers all regarded myth-making — what Tolkien called mythopoeia — as something rather spiritual, an expression of the creative urge humans have because we are ourself created. Even the non-Christian myths strove to get at Truth (not fact, but Truth) in a time when the full truth was unknown, responding to some basic impulse in the human soul and to basic features of reality. Those three writers all regarded Christianity as "the one true myth," the fulfillment, as it were, of all the themes and yearnings in the old myths. This classification of fairy tales and fantasy into a kind of modern pseudo-paganism, a wiccan kind of thing distinct entirely from Christianity (though also from old paganism, much as it wishes to belong to it), is a rather new thing, and would have puzzled Tolkien, Lewis, and Chesterton.
Sheila Ruth
31. SheilaRuth
Hilarious post, and really spot on. I saw it this week, and pretty much agree with everything you said. The whole film was an incoherent mishmash, and nothing made sense. (Why did there just happen to be a white horse lying there waiting for her when she escaped from the castle?) I did recognize some of the folklore tropes, but agree that they didn't make sense in the context of the story and seemed like they were just thrown in randomly.

Chris Hemsworth did a terrific job and was the best thing about the movie. For everyone else, the acting was terrible. Even Charlize Theron wasn't very good; she mostly just screamed a lot instead of acting.
sofrina
32. movie critic
I think people are misunderstanding the type of movie this was supose to be. Everyone has thier idea of what the tale is. Based on thier knowledge of the tale and how they were exposed to it. I took this movie more as a mystery, where the characters are not like the people of 2012, and not as open with thier emotions and inner thoughts. I thought the movies was good. I did find myself wanting to know who she ends up with, however accepting the fact that, like in life, love is not always clear.
sofrina
33. ibookworm
Regarding the unexplored love triangle: I learned recently that the person the writer originally wanted for the Huntsman was Sean Connery! I gather that the Huntsman was originally supposed to be an older, mentor figure. The filmmakers even tried to get older actors like Hugh Jackman, but everyone turned them down. That might explain why the Huntsman is not explicitly a love interest in the finished film — though I prefer it that way. I think it would feel rather forced if they had a romance so quickly and in the middle of everything that was going on.

Regarding the Christianity/fairy tale elements again, I came across an inteview with fantasy author Tim Powers, who explained it rather well:

"IgnatiusInsight.com: Many of your novels draw heavily on mythologies about King Arthur, the Fisher King, Orpheus, and related characters. Why do those myths and characters resonate so strongly with you?

"Powers: In these myths I always get the sense of some bigger, half-remembered event behind the handed-down stories. The eerie parallels between the mythologies of Egypt, Greece, Celtic England, and Norway remind me of the attempts of early Greek and Egyptian scientists to establish the value of pi, or the distance from the sun – that is, these are primitive attempts to describe something that’s actually there. Of course, as Christians we can know the real story, but these early, intuitive guesses have a power of mystery to them, and a kind of heroic poignancy in their inevitable incompleteness. These, and our almost inarticulate spinal responses to them, are the things Lewis described as signposts in Surprised By Joy – not to be mistaken for the destination, but deeply affecting anyway. I don’t think a Christian who is indifferent to pagan mythology is quite getting the full scope of his faith. (http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/tpowers_intvw_sept05.asp)
sofrina
34. Jalees
Awesome post on a totally un-awesome movie. The four best things were Theron, Hemsworth, the cinematography and the ending credits after the anti-climactic climax.
sofrina
35. Rachel S.
Great article! I think the same. Disappointed. Hope the sequel will be better.
sofrina
36. Tamar
You and I clearly have a different view on what a movie should be about. I enjoyed Snow White a lot because of the visual beauty - all those things you mark as purposeless - which is exactly what I think these kinds of movies should be about: visual beauty and the way they're made, instead of trying to make the public understand every little detail of the plot. If you want a brilliant storyline, you should read books (which are not about the shape of the letters, but about actual meaning and plot) instead of watch films. Two hours is to short to create a perfect story, but I think the makers of Snow White succeeded very well in creating something pleasant to look at (and listen to; I loved the dwarf-song, though you probably only wandered why it was there).

Of course I don't mind your review; I enjoyed your writing and I like reading different opinions from mine. I do think, though, that presenting your view as hard facts is a little harsh.

Kind regards,
Tamar
sofrina
41. nhojffej
what an annoying article. its a movie, get over it.
sofrina
42. bflemca
I just saw the movie, not gonna lie, I did find myself losing interest in the middle of the movie, not what I expected all from the trailer. I don't have a problem with kristen Stewart like everyone else, but I did not feel any connection with snow white whatsoever. The only person that I liked from the movie was Ravenna, despite what everyone says, she had way from depth to her than any of the characters in there. I felt that the mystery of her and all the things not explained i. The movie made her more interesting and made you think more about "why" and "how" about her
sofrina
43. LoganB
Honestly the only problem I had with this movie was Stewart lack of emotion. I never even thought of her and Hemsworth as having a "thing" until he is the one who brought her back from the dead. I didnt find magic and christianity co-existing in this world of fairytails being an issue. Theron's performance may have been a bit exaggerated but not so much that it bothered me... I think she did a great job. As for the visual effects I thought they were great. All in all I like this movie dispite Stewarts lack of acting ability I think it had a great story and found this move very watchable. I think this review was a little harsh I really dont see why so many didnt like it.
sofrina
44. AndrewK
The problem with the Christian angle is it doesn't fit with the rest of the story at all. Yes, you can have Christianity in a fairy tale, the film Brother's Grimm for example, but the key is that fairy tale world is rooted in our own world, the same is true of Arthurian tales. Nothing about the world built in Snow White and the Huntsman makes one think this is our world, instead it comes off as high fantasy, an entirely created world divorced from our own, which makes the Lord's Prayer reference stand out as completely out of place. The fact that they never revisit the religious element makes it that much more of a plot hole that rubs at the viewer.
Hemsworth Scottish brugue has a similar effect of confusing the setting. If we have Christianity, and we have a Scott, and we're speaking English it implies a setting of England sometime after Christ, but nothing else about the setting makes us believe this is England. The accent, like the Lord's Prayer, was unnecessary and detracts more than it adds.
sofrina
45. Pembo
The film itself was visually stunning... but I agree the world was a little unfinished and the story seemed half-finished.
The main reason I'm commenting is to offer a theory on the "Plaster bath"
I think it's actually a milk bath like the ones Cleopatra supposedly had. During that scene the Queen is talking about her generosity whilst peasants below try to drink her bath water as it cascades out of a drain into the courtyard below. Maybe with all that liquid filtering out onto the streets the bath is more like the cream floating on the top, which would explain it's "plaster-like" consistency.

Just a thought :)
sofrina
46. CFG
I enjoyed reading this article though I have mixed feelings about your review.

I watched this movie and personally I never liked Kristen Steward she over acts in a lot of her movies including the twilight movies I can't imagine what directers see in her but they must see something cause she keeps getting parts in movies. Despite my opionion of her I really loved this movie. Out of all the versions of films about snow white that has come out this one is one of the better ones I"ve seen.

I do however agree with a lot of the points made here. Some of it was kinda irrelevent personally I don't need to ask myself why this and why that because sometimes for me there doesn't have to be a reason or an answer to why certain things happen in a film. You seem to be questioning just about everything your seeing. I mean come on do you guys have no imagination at all? You can't fill in the blanks for yourself? No offense but your not always gonna get explanations when it comes to films. You watch a movie and if you don't like it then you just don't watch it again. But there are people that like these kinds of movies and enjoy them.
I don't really like reviwers who's main objective is to bash the entire movie and give everyone else the impression that its not worth watching and I kinda feel like that's what your real intension here was. I watched this movie mostly out of curiousity and because the trailer made it look really good. I will admit that its not as great as the trailer makes it look but its not as bad as your making it sound either.
The only thing I didn't really like about this movie was that there was no actual romance even though Snow white and the Huntmans were obviously into each other. I like the fact that it wasn't the prince that was her true love. And actually in this movie I think he was a Duke. Not a prince. So that's at least two things I see that were changed from the original cartoon version. Also you have to remember that DISNEY created Snow white so anyone who takes on something like this from Disney is never gonna get it just right because they are pretty much trying to rewrite something that was already great to begin with.
Most of the time when remakes are done its not as good as the original.
And that's because a lot of the time the original is just so great that you really can't outdo it. When it comes to the Disney princesses I think its the same. You just can't outdo the Disney version.

Also the ending did leave an opening because they say there will be a sequel but I think the idea was shelved for now. So we will just have to deal with the cliff hanger ending I guess.
sofrina
47. Bell
The only good thing about the whole movie was the fact that Chris Hemsworth was in it.... if it was anyone eles i probably would've died (from depression) Question... is there going to be a second snow white and the huntsman????
sofrina
48. Bell
The only good thing about the whole movie was the fact that Chris Hemsworth was in it.... if it was anyone eles i probably would've died (from depression) Question... is there going to be a second snow white and the huntsman????
sofrina
49. Dirkje K
Wow, you are sooo pessimistic. So childish, just tell them you don't like the movie. If you keep judging movies like this you will never enjoy watching any of them. I'm not saying that i find snow white and the hunsman a good movie, but still.
sofrina
50. JMB
I just wanted to put the text of that speech so anyone who (wisely) hasn't seen the movie will see just how bad it is.

"Iron will melt, but it will writhe inside of itself. All these years, all I've known is darkness. But I have never seen a brighter light than when my eyes just opened. And I know that light burns in all of you. Those embers must turn to flame. Iron into sword. I will become your weapon forged by the fierce fire that I know is in your hearts. For I have seen what she sees. I know what she knows. I can kill her. And I'd rather die today then live another day of this death. And who will ride with me? Who will be my brother?"
sofrina
51. Priscilla
I feel like this blog was 90% bias.
I thought the movie was fine and I even thought Kristen did a great job (Heck, I might even say she was fantastic). And in this movie she had more than just two emotions contrary to your beliefs and she did an awesome job at fighting the Queen. The plot was perfectly fine maybe if you spent less time grumbling over the fact that Kristen Stewart was in this big movie and spent more time paying attention to the movie you'd be able to enjoy it better. Gosh...
sofrina
52. Turtlesoup
I could actually follow the plot of the movie and disagree with what the post said. A lot of the qoutes where misqouted and wrong. The scene where Snow White made her battle speech was a lot more complicated and did not say that. Also, Kristen Stewart had a wide range of emotions in the movie that she conveyed, not just two. There is also no problem of Christianity and Magic existing in the same world, as they do not conflict with each other.
As regards to Snow Whites lack of chemistry with the Huntsman, yet him being a love interest, it was not all Kristen Stewarts fault. She only played the part she was given, the movie was not suposed to be about her falling in love.
To me, this movie made total sense, and you did not have to infer everything like the orignal post said. A lot of the information of the backgrounds of the characters were given. As long as you were paying attention to the film, you should be able to understand.
sofrina
53. Shideh Keshavarz
I just came across this post after watching this movie online half an houre ago, and i laughed a lot and enjoyed it. So very true.
sofrina
56. Ris
So, I really kinda liked this movie, I dont see how many of you didnt understand some of it. let me try and clear up some of the points for you. Overall, this movie was competeing with our pre-concieved notion of Snow White, which was the Disney movie. This is why things like the mother wishing for a girl with such and such features happened, the hallucinogens that the plants made Snow White experience (so she could "see" and "feel" the trees reaching for her and having faces, just like the animated movie showed us). And, of course, the dad just rushing to marry again without thinking about it.

Another point was the point of christianity in this movie, the brief mentionable moment when she's praying. Well, Ive seen tons of movies where people pray to God in magic-filled worlds, peasents who dont possess magic and are in fear of it. Snow White can't do magic, and while she isnt a peasent by blood, she is treated as such.
The whole Ravenna being obsessed about her looks is classic Evil Queen. At least Ravenna had a back story for being obsessed with her looks--it was her power and her heart was also broken billions of times. In the animated Snow White, the evil queen just wanted to be the fairest.
And Snow White can't kill her because she's suddenly 'prettier'. Im assuming that was a joke xD Obviously, Snow White was born to counteract the evil already existing in the world (Ravenna) though not in power yet.
On account of Kristen's acting & the lack of romantic chemistry, lets think of one thing. This wasnt meant as a romance movie. Snow White was locked up in that tower for like 70% of her life, she doesnt know what love is or how to be in love. Everything is new to her when she breaks out of her cell. Life is different, she matured in a solitary cell. She doesnt know how to be with men because she's only known them when she was very young. I think Kristen's 2-emotioned face worked for this. she did smile sometimes!
Dwarfs: lets be honest, the Dwarfs were only there to help Snow White, just as in the Disney Film. They didnt have much of a purpose anywhere.
The "Milk" bath--Ravenna is shown drinking a bowl of milk with the blood drips when her mother casts the spell. It's probably one of the necessary things to keep her beauty alive. Snow White didnt instinctively "know" how to kill Ravenna, but she knew that SHE had to do it. Whether she wanted to or not, it was her destiny. She kinda sucked at fighting, but that one handy movie Huntsman taught her allowed her to win. If you didnt notice, all of Snows army kinda sucked and died off, and Snow was about to die too. She definetely did NOT know how to kill Ravenna.

And yeah, thats my rant. I know Snow White is not the invention of Disney, i know it comes from Grimm Fairytales, but the main public refers to the disney classic when they think of Snow White, and thus this movie played on certain aspects of the disney film and combined it with new, gothic elements. So if you didnt like to cause you didnt understand it, I hope I cleared some of it up for you. i thought it was a fantastic movie beautifully done. If you dont, thats perfectly okay, but dont hate on it cause you dont understand it.
sofrina
57. LA Knight
I loved this review because it's funny, even though I don't agree with it. Could they have gotten a better actress to play Snow White? I don't know, and don't really care, because that's not why I went to see it. I went to see it because I love fairy tale films. The movie reminded me (regarding the world-building) of some of the classics I've loved as a kid - Willow, The Dark Crystal, Conan the Barbarian (the original), The Neverending Story, etc.

Unfortunately in this day and age, movies are expected to hand-feed everything to the viewers instead of the viewers actually knowing anything, so instead of said viewers using their imaginations to build up what isn't explained in the movie, the screen-writers and everyone involved in the film has to spoon-feed it to them.

Examples:

1 - In medieval times, women took MILK baths to increase their beauty. You can tell in the film what's in the bathtub because children are standing beneath the drains drinking the milk. Who drinks plaster?

2 - It was said in medieval times, during the sweep of Christianity across pagan lands, when paganism began invading Judeo-Christian beliefs, that the royal family was literally tied to the well-being of the land and its people. Which (since Snow White is the legitimate heir, not the life-sucking queen) would explain how she's supposed to renew the kingdom and whatnot.

3 - The wish Snow White's mother makes before she's born is from the original fairy tale (minus the bit about the rose).

4 - The combination of Christianity and fantasy...the world apparently strikes you as a high fantasy world. Why? They never say that one way or the other, but they do mention God a lot. And in alternate-worlds based on fantasy in many books and movies, they still have Christianity. In medieval times, the sorts of things we as the viewer sees were suspected of existing in our world, even by those who were considered educated. Quests for things such as the Holy Grail and unicorn horns were common.

So while this review was incredibly amusing and technically sound (spelling and grammar and whatnot), its points were mostly invalid. Why didn't the movie explain every single thing to us? Probably because the director was hoping the audiences weren't lazy morons who never pick up a book. Apparently this is too much to ask.

- LA Knight
sofrina
59. Beep
"...but she has a magic mirror thing (that came from somewhere, I’m sure) that has a figure in it that only she can see (for some reason), and it tells her that now Snow White has come of age, she’s prettier." i think this scene in the movie was meant to show that the queen is insane and schizophrenic, by showing someone else looking into the room and seeing her talk to herself. however, they certainly could have explained it better than they did.
sofrina
60. Tharusha
This was utterly brilliant and truthful! Cracked me up...also would like to know why Ravenna's brother survived the dark forest to go after snow white when it was made to seem that anyone who goes there would die.
sofrina
64. Rosario
Terrible, terrible, terrible! Kristen Stewart pollutes every single scene in which she appears, and everything gets even worse when she has to talk... I had high expectations for this film, thinking that Kristen would make an effort and shut the mouths of those who said that she could not act... But I was super wrong. She does not generates a bond with the viewer, nor has chemistry with any of her co-stars, EVER!
Oh! and about that "iron based" final speech? I thought that I was disregarding something because English is not my first language, but it is a relief to know that for native speakers was equally incoherent!
Cheers!

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