Snow White and the Huntsman doesn’t do it
As my daughter would say, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman was an epic fail’. The only part of the fairy tale genre it nailed was the visual imagery. There are fascinating little creatures in the dark forest and compelling images like the girl on the horse fleeing through the woods, or the raging evil of the queen becoming a flutter of black birds. These images give the movie an enchanted and fairytale feeling.
Red Riding Hood (Amanda Seyfried) was the same with the spikey trees and fur blankets. Great images but they had no idea what the point of the story was so they made the Virgin heroic, in a confusing and half-hearted way. This is a great example of how you can’t tell a Virgin story in the same way that you tell a hero story. They have different drives and outcomes. It is a different very journey.
The point of a Virgin story is to look inside yourself and find your gift. She starts out in a world that diminishes her value for being herself. She has to overcome the external message and connect to her own understanding of her worth. This is an interesting story. Aren’t we all trying to do this?
In Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristin knows her gift in the very beginning. The story was over and we had to stay for another two predictable hours. She is beautiful because of her pure heart. Animals instinctively know this and connect to her. She meets the Huntsman and declares herself to be valuable. Based on what? She meets up with William and says ‘no problem abandoning me and giving me up for dead. There wasn’t much you could do.’ He’s a ninja archer!! He never bothered to check out what happened to her?! There must have been rumors from guards or other prisoners.
It would have been so much more interesting if the circumstances of Snow White’s life had impacted her and she was miserable in her victimhood. Snow White lost her mother, her ‘friend’ murdered her father and put her in a tower where she was deprived of love or beauty. William and his father abandoned her. All those years in prison seemed to have no impact on her. She was just a bit dirty. Why did this have no effect on her feeling of self-worth? Did anyone ever think about her? I`d be wondering.
From a screenwriting point of view, Snow White needs to start with a barrage of words and images that are detrimental to her understanding of her worth. She is eating the poisonous words and actions of others long before she eats the apple. Writers of modern tellings of Snow White like Precious and Black Swan understood this aspect of the story. This is where we, the audience, get hooked on the story.
Also, what was the take home message of the story? Snow White lost sight of her authentic nature and became a killer. Really?! Her gift is the power of love. She calms the raging troll and connects with the great white stag when she is radiating her natural love for others. It is like when Dian Fossey went to live near the gorillas without any guns, only an open and curious heart. We all know the powerful impact that had on gorillas and us. I`m not saying the heroes should not have risen to her defense. They should have! But Snow White needed to kill the Queen with kindness – a nice twist ending would have been for Snow White to give the Queen a kiss of unconditional love. God knows she needed genuine love to melt her icy heart and release her pain. Then she could have gracefully yet rapidly aged and died before our eyes.
I have nothing but praise for the Evil Queen. Charlize was compelling, creepy, topical, and had backstory. She gave an insightful representation of the Hag archetype. I just felt bad that she wasn`t getting more help from the story structure.