Original Publish Date: April 15, 2012
When Snow White tries to save the prince in a turn about-way from the norm, he tells her that she shouldn’t, since the original went to a focus group and tested well. This is strange, meta, oddly-reflective humor Mirror Mirror exposes to its audience. Classy, classy stuff.
When I say I didn’t want to go see this movie, I mean I would have rather run around screaming in the night without shoes in Union Square, being chased by the police as the attack dogs nipped at my heels than pay money to see this movie. And why? Two very simple reasons: Julia Roberts. Tarsem Singh.
Julia Roberts has gotten old. And not because of her advanced age, but her act itself is stale. She somehow lost all her charm and whimsy and whatever else people saw in her before the mid-2000s showed the world the ruined state of her career, despite retaining her baby-faced good looks. And in the end, this movie is HER movie, which makes the whole point of advertising it as a “Snow White reimaging” a little backwards. More on that to come.
Tarsem Singh…where do I even begin with this one? He mystified audiences with the beautiful film The Fall. Years earlier, he mystified audiences at how terrible you could make an incredibly interesting concept with The Cell. I have yet to see Immortals, but having seen Mirror Mirror, I have come to one conclusion: Singh is in the wrong career. He should have been an art director, or an artist. He makes every scene pop with rich colors and detailed designs and costumes. But a director? No, he’s proven he couldn’t direct his way out a paper bag with a map.
But, duty calls, and I’m not going to do a straight review of it here. No, if you want to see me rip it to shreds critically, I’ll post it on my MoarPowah account, and will link it here later. No, what follows is a look into what this newly-evolved Snow White looks like…and I’m actually pleasantly surprised.
The story is a mix of the fairytale and an original story. We still have the Evil Queen, who is by far the most obnoxious villain I’ve had the misfortune to watch in a while – and not in the intended way. She’s vain to a fault, and is more power-hungry for money and fame than for ambition or to be powerful, so no major evolution there. The karmic death of the Queen gets an interesting twist in the fact that it comes as a consequence of her using magic and not a random rock slide like in the Disney film. She’s not evolved from her previous incarnation, which is a pity because they could have really made her an interesting, yet unsympathetic character. Sadly, I just wish there was less of her inanity in this film – it would have been so much better.
Snow White herself develops quickly in the story, as she turns from a sheltered weakling princess to a Robin-Hood-esque thief with a strong backbone. She’s an interesting blend of feminine and masculine, much more so than her Once Upon a Time counterpart. For example, she positions her body in a very masculine way, such as slouching against objects, resorting to physical violence, and even screams and grunts in moments of frustration before blindly rushing forward. But she still cooks for the dwarves, dresses very femininely, and still wants to fall in love. But she’s smart, cunning, a tough fighter, and a person – not a man, not a woman, not a walking stereotype – a real complex, diverse person.
The Prince starts off as a sexist jerk, who actually belittles her after she becomes a thief. He taunts her for being “foolish” enough to think she could best a man in combat. He even spanks Snow White with his sword several times in a battle sequence (that sentence fills me with so much inner-feminist rage). Ultimately, she beats the crap out him, and proves she’s more than capable of handling herself and doling out one hell of a beating. However, her inner strength and resolve aren’t as powerful as Once Upon a Time’s Snow White, which will be my topic for next week, as well discussing the dwarves.
Speaking of, the dwarves in this film are awesome, since they are thieves rather than miners. Each has individual personal goals and back stories which makes them more likeable, and you get to know them all by the end of the film. They do not fit the Disney roles unless there was a dwarf named Hungry that I somehow missed. Honestly though, I don’t think the dwarves have changed at all in this adaptation, since they are still just the support characters…except now they can fight. Oh, and they’re multi-cultural for some reason.
The film itself is strangely self-aware of its position. Just before Snow White goes to fight off “The Beast” she locks the prince and the dwarves away from danger, and says that she read a lot of stories when she lived in a palace of a prince saving the princess and how it was about time to change. The prince quickly retorts that it shouldn’t change, that it went to a focus group and tested well. I think it was just meant to be some sort of meta-joke, like in Scream where they constantly comment on horror clichés, but it’s an interesting statement of reflection nonetheless.
Research-wise, I decided to put my energy in getting an interview with another sociology/gender studies professor, and have interviewed an avid fan of “Once Upon a Time” (who also happens to be an anthropology major), which I will go into more detail later in conjunction with the two readings I am finishing. At the time of writing, I am interviewing Dr. Shamas.
Also, I think I found where the spark that set off this trend may have come from. In 2002, a comic book series began called Fables. It follows the tales of fairytale creatures and characters who somehow made it into our world and live among us. It became instantly popular and has continued publishing monthly. In it, Snow White marries Prince Charming, but was apparently abused by the dwarves she was living with and goes back and murders four of them. She’s also married to the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Hiding Hood and lives in upstate New York. I guess not all fairytales are supposed to make sense.