Sunday, June 10, 2012

Snow White and her many colors

So, I just watched Snow White and the Huntsman, and instead of writing another movie review that might end up being either overly cynical or overly enthusiastic (Thor and Hawkeye were awesome! But where is the rest of the Avengers?)... khm, aaaanyhow, from a storyteller's perspective, I just couldn't help but muse about how popular Snow White has been recently. If Fables is indeed right about fairy tale characters being stronger the more loved they are, at this point you could run the lady over with an eighteen wheeler truck and she would pop back up with not a single strand of raven black hair out of place.

So, on that note, let's take a look at some of Miss White's more recent appearances, completely based on my personal preference as a professional neerrrrrdImean, storyteller.

Snow White and the Huntsman
It seems like suddenly everyone is very occupied with making Snow White an active heroine as opposed to a passive princess in need of saving. I can get behind that. I am all for telling kids (not just girls, mind you) that the princess can be a hero of her own merit. Charlize Theron was an amazing evil queen, and her character got some depth through a few seconds of very Jungian backstory. With that said and done, the movie was a rather entertaining patchwork of other movies, scene by scene pieced together from Willow, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and the Hunger Games. At several points the tale was taken painfully literally, while at others is strayed into high fantasy.
Pros: Thor and the badass archer prince. Cons: Kirsten Stewart was Snow Blank, as usual.
Storyteller's note: Next time, leave Disney OUT of the Grimm world. No one needs critters when you have blood magic.

Mirror Mirror
Same idea, different execution, although the only thing I have to go on is the trailer at this point. This one adds a deal of (questionable) humor to the tale, taking the whole thing into the realm of what storytellers call "fractured fairy tales". No one seems to bother wearing actual warm clothes in knee deep snow in this one either, but I guess if you name is Snow White, you are immune to cold (I am starting to theorize she is a secret Jotun and Loki's half-sister). Again, yay for active princesses.
Pros: Doesn't even pretend to be serious. Cons: Doesn't even pretend to be serious.
Storyteller's note: I want to see a version where the dwarves are not actual dwarves (and the comic relief). There are many versions where Snow White is taken in by bandits and other questionable characters. Try it sometime. I did. It works. Kids love it.

Once Upon a Time
Even though in my eyes it failed really hard as a TV show, one of the actually enjoyable moments of Once Upon a Time was Snow White's backstory. Apart from the fact that I really like Ginnifer Goodwin as an actress (and the Prince was cute too), they managed to make the backstory meaningful and sweet, and nothing more but a nice likable fairy tale. With, once again, an active heroine in the focus.
Pros: Snow White is actually a likable character! Cons: The rest of the show pretty much sucks.
Storyteller's note: Bonus points for mentioning that the characters had a life AFTER they got married. Also some moments of the modern world adaptation of the theme.

Sydney White
An ultimate guilty pleasure, I am woman enough to admit that I like this one. Actually, if you are going to fracture a fairy tale, fracture it right. The whole "Snow White and the Seven Dorks" thing is a lot of fun to watch especially if you have been through and American college, and the plus side is, the dorks are not changed into mindless pretty boys in the end like in so many makover movies. We like them that way.
Pros: A bit of mindless entertainment. Cute. Cons: Don't expect anything deep.
Storyteller's note: A good example of a fairy tale fractured right. It doesn't take the whole story very seriously, but plays around a lot with the original symbols. Also unintentionally brings up an interesting idea of what being a "snow white" can mean in modern everyday life. I like stuff like that.

Fables (Vertigo)
Whoever is not familiar with this one: stand up now, march to the nearest bookstore, and buy it. Go. I am watching you. I am not even kidding. Now!
Pros: Everything. Cons: THEY ARE NOT PUBLISHING IT FAST ENOUGH!!! (fortunately, still ongoing)
Storyteller's note: This is what Once Upon a Time should have been. Tradition meets the modern version of most of your favorite fairy tales and folktales, and then some obscure ones as well (I like to see those as Easter eggs for professional storytellers). Entertaining, creative, exciting, dark, amazing, modern. As a storyteller, I love to see re-imagined fairy tales done RIGHT. Most of it is knowing your sources, and treating them with some serious respect.

Snow, Glass, Apples (Neil Gaiman)
Neil Gaiman's short story is, of course, a classic, and a very interesting take on the original story. It also gives Kirsten Stewart playing Snow White a whole new meaning.
Pros: Neil Gaiman. Cons: Not as well known as it should be.
Storyteller's note: Apart from great writing, which can be expected from Neil Gaiman, it is also a genius idea that fits the original story very well. With the current popularity of "the topic" it cannot be advertised enough, in my opinion.

1 comment:

  1. I had Disney Snow White viewmaster reels when I was a little kid in the early 70s. Remember viewmaster? I told my mom that she looked just like the evil queen; something she's never let me forget or live down. lmao