Release date: October 1st, 2012
Certificate (UK): TBC
Running time: 127 minutes
Director: Rupert Sanders
Writers: Hossein Amini, Evan Daugherty, the Brothers Grimm
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
There was a time when I was a small boy and I’d enjoy nothing more than having stories read to me. There were so many to choose from in the large book of fairy tales, given to me as a birthday present when I turned fours years old. In it there were stories from Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault, and of course the Brothers Grimm.
With them, bedtime became a nightly adventure filled with castles, kingdoms, vengeful queens, brave princes and long-suffering princesses in need of rescue. Stories such as Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Hänsel and Grethel and Sleeping Beauty set my little imagination soaring, aided by the beautifully hand painted illustrations that accompanied them. There was also the story of Snow White And Seven Dwarves. Although later on I would see the animated Disney version which many of us are now familiar with, the version in my book was much different; it scared me a little.
This new retelling is a little bit like that. Snow White And The Huntsman isn’t a tale of a spoilt giddy princess who waits for rescue. Instead it’s visually captivating film with much action that uses the Brothers Grimm’s story to tell its own.
At the start of the film we see a queen who longs for a child with skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as a raven. Snow White is born and for a while all is well in the kingdom of Tabor, but then the queen becomes ill and dies. The grieving king then meets the enchanting Ravenna (Charlize Theron) after rescuing her from an invading force of glass soldiers. He forgets his sorrows and marries her the next day, only to be killed by her before she takes Tabor as her own and locks away the princess in one of the castle’s towers.
The grown up Snow White, played by Kristen Stewart, turns out to be the one thing that threatens Ravenna’s rule. The queen, who drains the youth from young women in order to maintain a spell once cast by her mother, which allows her to keep her beauty, learns from her magic mirror that Snow White is now destined to destroy her unless she consumes her heart, thus making her immortal.
Learning of this, Snow White finally manages to escape her prison, but Eric (Chris Hemsworth), a huntsman, is sent after her. When Eric realises the queen’s deal with him means nothing to her, he decides to save Snow White and only after he finds out she’s the princess of Tabor. Thrown into the mix is Prince William (Sam Claflin), a childhood friend who infiltrates the queen’s band of hunters to find Snow White.
Of course, we know any retelling of Snow White can’t leave out the part where she bites into the poisoned apple and falls into a deep sleep. Believing she’s dead, both William and Eric mourn her but miraculously she wakes and leads them and the dwarves, along with an entire army, to destroy Queen Ravenna.
Snow White And The Huntsman makes great use of the special effects and there are quite some impressive scenes, such as when Ravenna’s mirror takes form and stands before her, and when the animals in the forest become enchanted by Snow White’s inner power. Charlize Theron turns in an incredible performance as Ravenna, a queen as cold as ice and with nothing else on her mind but maintaining her power.
Where the film falters though is with its pacing and with Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. There are moments when it seems too drag and this isn’t helped by these two leads who don’t have an ounce of shared chemistry. At times it feels more like Twilight meets Lord Of The Rings with its battle sequences and a love triangle slowly unfolding between Snow White, Eric and William. Ultimately this left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied, having seen it before in one of those aforementioned films.
Aside from that though, there’s still much I enjoyed about Snow White And The Huntsman, including its rousing score by James Newton Howard which continuously shifts from being majestic to darkly haunting.
Even though I still keep that book of fairy tales close to my bedside stand, it’s always interesting to see when filmmakers can tackle these much loved stories, despite their varying degrees of success.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .