Written by Emily C.Reubush, Digital Department, DFI
Film: Snow White and The Huntsman
Director: Rupert Sanders
A swath is the space cut by the stroke of a scythe, or the piece so cut.
A bit ironic, then, that Snow White and the Hunstman has become known as SWATH across the Twittersphere, as it takes a noticeable chunk from many films that came before. The story, or at least the foundation of it, is well known through storybooks and the 1937 animated Disney classic: innocence is personified in a young girl with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as a raven. In this, Rupert Sanders’ vision, the girl is orphaned young when her mother passes away and her (literally) wicked step-mother kills her father on their wedding night. The new queen, whose youth, fairness and power is sustained by the beauty and heart of others, for some reason decides not to imbibe the girl, but to keep her locked in a tower for eight years or so—until the magic mirror warns the queen that the princess has come of age and how has the power to overthrow her.
Luckily, two black and white birds assist Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in escaping from the castle, leading her to a white horse waiting by the sea. They then go on a ride through at least two Lord of the Rings films, into Wonderland and a bit of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Enter The Huntsman: a drunken, fighting, snarky Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) a la Legends of the Fall, who is sent into the Dark Wood to retrieve the fair maiden… and her heart. During the next hour and a half or so there is further a sprinkling of Last of the Mohicans and a dollop of Joan of Arc but, while all these references are registered, they are not overly bothersome—the reason being the beauty of the film.
The settings, cinematography, the costuming, the acting: all are beautiful. Charlize Theron is fantastic as Ravenna, the evil queen, and Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Twilight and Twilight) does a solid job of acting meek and terrified, but also manages to be reasonably confident when the time comes.
Snow White is reunited with her childhood friend William, a character in which Sam Claflin shows flashes of Heath Ledger. The dwarves, keeping to the image of motley miners who occasionally break into song, are filled with recognizable faces such as Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Paul), Ian McShane (Deadwood) and Toby Jones (The Hunger Games, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The star power is solid, and they all actually deliver.
It is also refreshing to see a movie that is impressive in vision and scope without relying heavily on CGI. Despite the soul-sucking and faeries, this version of the story does feel more tangible than the storybooks. It may not all be new, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. The mix of fresh interpretation and familiarity works to make a well-known tale newly interesting and yet not treasonous.