SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN
Kristen Stewart / Charlize Theron / Chris Hemsworth / Sam Spruell / Sam Claflin / Ian McShane / Bob Hoskins / Ray Winstone / Nick Frost / Eddie Marsan / Toby Jones / Lily Cole / Screenplay by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock & Hossein Amini / Art Direction by Andrew Ackland Snow, Alastair Bullock, John Frankish / Production Design by Dominic Watkins / Soundtrack by James Newton Howard / Cinematography by Grieg Fraser / Editing by Conrad Buff IV & Neil Smith / Produced by Laurie Boccaccio & Gloria S. Borders / Directed by Rupert Sanders
Lips red as blood, hair black as night..
..bring me your heart, my dear, dear Snow White
Universal certainly have given us a decidedly dark take on the Snow White fairy-tale, with some wonderfully evocative set pieces, and a fresh injection of realism.. albeit with a liberal helping of shiny prism lens flare. Gone is the saccharine Max-Factor Snow White, and in her place stands (or sort of slumps in angsty teenage fashion) Kristen Stewart,the reigning spirit of Emo-cool, shabby-chic.. complete with dirty fingernails and unkempt hair. Sam Spruell, plucked from a plethora of British TV mini-dramas, does the whole Prince Charming bit with aplomb, but shouldn’t really bother, since we all know that Kristen Stewart prefers a ‘bit of rough’ from the wild woodlands. Said ‘bit of rough’, with a mock Scottish accent you need crane an ear to follow, is Chris Hemsworth, the Australian actor better known these days as the Mighty Thor.
For evil foes, we have the splendidly nordic looking Charlize Theron as wicked Queen Ravenna, stealing the youth from young maidens to maintain her eternal beauty.. and her vile brother ‘Finn’, so drained of all independence and goodness by his cloying sister, that he almost seems sucked of colour to the point of becoming an albino.. played with wonderful relish by the superb Sam Spruell, with an exceedingly amusing haircut. You’ll need to wait it out till the 2nd half for the er.. eight dwarfs turn up, but they’re more than worth their weight in gold, lining up such quality heavyweights as Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones.. and the superb Bob Hoskins, for whom this role marks his retirement after 40 years of outstanding performances.
The real magic of the film is in the exceptional quality of the sets, costumes and effects, all of which have been so lovingly constructed that they are nothing short of breathtaking. Nordic trolls; intricate explosions into clouds of doves and ravens; hallucinatory tumbles through writhing woodlands.. all more impressive than the last. Acting-wise the quality is not so constant. Some of the accents are a little heavy handed, and the dialogue overly simplistic at times. Charlize Theron, looks magnificent and stunning throughout (even curiously during her aging sequences), and acts wonderfully with her expressions.. but is let down a little by her strange pauses in dialogue, as she over concentrates on her pronunciation. There’s something interesting about her English tone, but perhaps she should have kept her American accent.. or reached a compromise. Stewart’s regal, English accent is the more believable, but has it’s own occasional mishaps. By far the most moving moments in the film occur around the dwarfs, who give a little masterclass (no pun intended) in a peculiarly British resonance of performance, and jocular humour. Hoskins stands out as a sort of blind, Homeric seer, whose class manages to add a particular depth to what is otherwise fairly simple dialogue.
If there is a criticism to made of the dwarf characters themselves, it’s that they do blatantly follow the Hollywood construct of a Merry Olde England, that is peopled by an odd hotch-potch of Scottish, Northern & Irish stereotypes to the point of cultural insult. Though nowhere near as shocking as the peculiarly cartoon like Irish characters of Ridley Scott’s ‘Legend’, or the farcical cabinet of cultural curiosities in Ron Howard’s ‘Far and Away’. Although Snow White is a fairy-tale, and as such meant to be a colourful exaggeration by nature, this version nevertheless is attempting to tell the tale with a sharper clarity of realism.. and as such dances a difficult line between the two states. On the whole it does this with a reasonable level of success, which offers a respectful nod to the Disney cartoon forerunner, but at the same time manages to keep a polite distance. Some scenes are very much reminiscent of ‘Lord of the Rings’, with a rain-soaked trek across gorgeous, dramatic mountainscapes (in Scotland this time, as opposed to New Zealand), only occasionally dabbling with the CGI magic box, which films like ‘The Chronicles of Nania’ trip and fall headfirst into.
The film clocks in at ten minutes shy of three hours, and rides along at an entertaining pace, without dragging unduly. The ending is fairly satisfying, but some sort of a prologue to complete the love aspect of the tale, and to tie up loose ends would have been nice. Especially considering the time taken to establish the characters and plots.
If I were to hand out prizes, then Kristen Stewart would get a clanging pat on the back for best best looking girl in a suit of armour.. Charlize Theron for most ridiculously beautiful evil-type person in a motion picture.. a vigorous shake of the hand to whoever made the Evil Queen’s fabulous throne.. and above all.. Bob Hoskins for sheer class and gravitas. Cheers Bob!
-Interview Magazine- (2012) Snow White Promotional Shoot
Kristen Stewart & Charlize Theron by Mikael Jansson