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09.06.2012- Film Review: Snow White & the Huntsman

Cinema's latest foray into the world of fairy tales comes in the shape of the recently released Snow White & the Huntsman. The feature film debut of director Rupert Sanders, this interpretation takes us all the way back to the dark, brooding heart of the original Grimm narrative, where the battle between good and evil is punctuated by the prospect of death and danger at every turn.

Unlike a breadth of previous fairy tale adaptations, Snow White & the Huntsman has a strong sense of realism at its heart, which not only serves to increase the dramatic tension throughout, but also allows us as an audience the opportunity to connect with a host of authentic, human characters. Central to this dramatic truth is Kristen Stewart's performance as Snow White, which captures the initial vulnerability and innocence of the character beautifully. Seeing the narrative unfold largely through her eyes, we encounter a world which has been infected by the poisonous rule of Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron), and where fear has become the ultimate weapon. Snow White's progression from untried prisoner to warrior queen in waiting is the driving force behind the story, and Stewart's assured performance captures the essence of this transition perfectly. Chris Hemsworth provides solid support as the gruff, enigmatic Huntsman, a character who is written with a far more prominent role in this interpretation than has been seen previously. Charlize Theron's depiction of Ravenna is suitably malevolent, yet not one-dimensionally villainous; indeed it's testament to the strength of the script and central performances that these characters are gifted with a level of psychological depth which goes far beyond the predictable, saccharine depictions which have prevailed to date. Here the struggle between purity and poison is not at all straightforward, which makes the narrative far more engaging whilst affording the central characters a gritty and identifiable humanity.

On a visual level, the film is beautiful, capturing in intricate detail a host of fantastical imagery. The costumes of Colleen Atwood add a breathtaking level of depth and authenticity to the film; the myriad of gowns crafted for Ravenna in particular are surely amongst some of the most visionary to be committed to film. Greig Fraser's cinematography too encompasses some stunning vistas, with location shooting adding further visual depth and capturing an almost Tolkien-like mysticism which only serves to enhance the storytelling. The bold production design, overseen by Dominic Watkins is also essential in making the world of the film come to life, and is particularly notable across scenes in the Dark Forest and in the tranquility of Sanctuary, as Snow White's destiny is affirmed once and for all.

James Newton Howard's thundering soundtrack also adds a robust sense of mood and atmosphere to the piece as a whole, featuring haunting vocal tracks from Florence and the Machine and Ioanna Gika. The sheer pathos which is evoked by Gika's track in particular affords the picture one of its most memorable moments, and again serves to centralise the emotive, human element at the heart of this fantastical story.

This is a film which, far from being a revisionist interpretation of a childhood fable, seeks to bring the fairy tale back to its roots as a homily on morality. The darker elements of the narrative are perfectly attuned to the purposes which such stories served in the societies in which they were created, and the bold visual landscape which is created on screen captures a brilliantly dark and brooding tone. Put simply, Snow White & the Huntsman succeeds emphatically in reclaiming the eerie origins of this particular tale for a modern audience, driven by energetic direction, resplendent design, and, most significantly of all, identifiably human characterisation.

Have you seen Snow White & the Huntsman? What did you think?

(Image credit: Universal Pictures.)


  1. amazing writing as per! I'm glad you enjoyed it I really want to see it too! x


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