Since there are two Snow White inspired movies being released in 2012, I am splitting this post in two parts. Part One will compare “Mirror Mirror” and Part Two will compare “Snow White & the Huntsman.” Happy reading!
Little Snow-White – Fairy Tale from the Brothers Grimm
Little Snow-White can be considered the beginning of fairy tales in popular culture. The story was first adapted by Disney in 1937 with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” which also marked the first animated feature film of the Disney corporation. Snow White as a character became the quintessential Fairy-Tale Princess, accompanied with her sweet singing voice and cute animal friends… but this concept of Snow White is very off-track with its original telling.
The Brothers Grimm debuted Little Snow-White in 1812; a story that reflects the one we have come to love, but with much deeper complications. It begins as usual, the King and Queen have a baby named Snow White, and the Queen dies shortly after. The King remarries to a vain woman, obsessed with her own beauty and envious of the beautiful Snow White. When the magic mirror tells the Queen “Snow White is the fairest of them all” she sends out the Huntsman to kill Snow White in the woods and bring back her heart and lungs for proof – quite a dark twist for a children’s tale. The Huntsman, captivated by Snow White’s pure beauty, sets her free and brings the Queen the heart and lungs of a boar instead.
In the woods, Snow White finds salvation in the home of seven little dwarves, but succumbs to the evil Queen three times, the last time ultimately leading her to death by the infamous poisonous apple. The dwarves, distraught by her death, place her in a glass coffin so her beauty can always be seen. Some years later, a Prince wandering through the woods finds Snow White and falls madly in love with her. He asks the dwarves if he can have her coffin and as the Prince’s servants walk away with the coffin they trip, causing the piece of poisonous apple to dislodge from Snow White’s throat and awaken her. The Prince and Snow White get married and the Queen, still vain and housing severe hatred for Snow White, is punished by being forced to wear slippers made of hot iron and dance until her death.
Not quite the kiddy tale we all knew and loved, huh? Little Snow-White is a great story for a number of reasons, but none of which is its great message to children. It has been adapted and transformed time and time again but consistently reveals the true evil that can be caused by vanity.
“Mirror Mirror”– Directed by Tarsem Singh
“Mirror Mirror”, a comedic version of the traditional tale, opened to a dismal 3rd place in the box office, bringing in a low $5.9 million. This was somewhat expected, considering “The Hunger Games” -which dominated the box office the weekend before- continued its reign throughout the week. Although this film was received by critics with mediocre reviews, I found myself entertained by Tarsem Singh’s film.
“Mirror Mirror” had some original plot lines that deviated from the typical Snow White. For instance, the role of Armie Hammer as Prince Alcott put him in a love triangle between the Queen and Snow White – something that has virtually never been done before. I also loved how the seven dwarves were thieves rather than simple miners; this gave them a darker edge and brought out vigor in Snow White’s character as well. But for all the originality it brought to the tale, it lacked in substance. Every scene seemed to be floating on the surface of something real, too sugar coated and sweet whilst trying to maintain its deviation from the Disney version of the story.
The cinematography, costume, and set design in “Mirror Mirror” was very spectacular and dream like, which emphasized the fairy tale aspect grounded in this story. Lily Collins was an impeccable looking Snow White, so beautiful and tenderhearted it was as if Collins were made for this part. However, Julia Roberts’ role as the Queen was a bit unconvincing. I just didn’t buy her genuine meanness and hatred for Snow White, and I decided halfway through the movie that this was definitely not Roberts’ best role.
In my opinion, if you are going to make a new Snow White movie in 2012, you gotta give the viewer something different. This story has been done time and time again so, when a major production like “Mirror Mirror” comes around, you expect a movie that completely turns Snow White upside down. With this film, it didn’t happen. And that is exactly my problem with the film. I was entertained, but I wasn’t floored, and “Mirror Mirror” left me wanting a little something extra.
Mook Rating – ★★★