Snow White and the Huntsman
This one is a visual feast. Just don’t expect a strict adherence to the old fairy tale.
Snow White begins her life as a princess. It’s sometime in the Middle Ages, and the giant stone castle sits majestically beside the sea. Her father, the King, and her Mother, the Queen, are happy together, and Snow White loves all the forest animals and seems to have a special affinity for birds (this will become important later). She’s just a girl, playing outside with the neighbor boy, and enjoying the run of the town and the castle. But the first tragedy strikes when her Mother dies, and her father is beyond distraught. He welcomes the chance to ride with the battle knights to repel some strange invader. Little does he know that it was all a trick, so he could happen upon the beautiful woman the invaders supposedly held captive, Ravenna (Charlize Theron). This turns out to be the classic toxic relationship.
The King is so smitten with Ravenna that he marries her the very next day, in a big, ostentatious ceremony filled with pomp and pageantry. But the gorgeous and villainous Ravenna, it turns out, has a black heart. She kills the King in bed that night, opens the gates to her marauding soldiers, takes over the entire castle, declares herself the Queen, and imprisons Snow White in the North Tower.
Years pass. And the Queen does not age, because she uses her black magic to maintain her youthful appearance. She has no compunction about killing anyone who stands in her way. The Kingdom has literally become a dark and foreboding place, where hope no longer dwells, and even the trees and fields are lifeless and colorless. The subjects are all poverty-stricken, abject, and forlorn. And when the evil Queen asks her famous “Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall” question, she always gets the answer she desires, until one day, the Magic Mirror tells her that the beauty of Snow White now surpasses her own.
The Queen, in a jealous rage, commands that Snow White be executed immediately, but the birds fly to her window and warn her, and she is able to escape the castle, but finds herself in the Dark Forest with little to protect her. There, she meets The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), who’s actually been hired to hunt her down, but he notices her extraordinary way with animals when she sweet-talks an ogre into not smashing them. He also notices her remarkable beauty, even if she is not exactly dressed like a Princess now. The forest fairies protect her from the evil Queen’s rampaging brother, out to destroy her, and The Huntsman has now become her ally. They find that there is still, an underground of anarchists who long for the evil Queen’s demise. A tiny colony of self-mutilated women know that they cannot be beautiful and live. A den of dwarves meet her and quit their thieving because she is so full of life and healing. And yes, her girlhood pal shows up wanting to re-connect with her, and we have to snicker because here’s Kristen Stewart, out in the wilds again, trying to decide between two suitors again, dealing with extraordinary powers again, some of which are benign and some of which are destructive.
Now we switch to Joan of Arc. Kind of. Snow White inspires the bedraggled peasantry to storm the castle and restore the previous monarchy (meaning her). Now she has to give up the meek-and-mild-and-innocent routine, but of course the Evil Queen is not going to succumb easily.
Charlize Theron is remarkable in her role, and even Kristen Stewart gets to show a little range. It’s not exactly whimsical, but it is adventurous, and heartily entertaining.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving, Texas