Dir: Pablo Berger
Stars: Maribel Verdú, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Macarena García
In the past couple of years, silent cinema has made a comeback, with the academy award winning The Artist setting the trend. Blancanieves, a Snow White inspired story about matadors, dwarves and Louise Brooks haircuts is a cinematic triumph, which easily mops the floor with the other sub-par fairy-tale remakes that seem to be in fashion at the moment. This is due to one reason: every aspect of this film has that something any piece of modern art craves for. It has originality.
Choosing to make a silent film is all fine and dandy, but it’s not exactly the most original idea, is it? Well, on paper, it’s not, but Blancanieves director, Pablo Berger, made sure to create a far superior, engaging and memorable film than the other two Snow White films that were released in 2012. And yes, a main factor of this is because it’s a silent movie, but a lot of credit is due to the composer, Alfonso de Vilallonga. He successfully created a breathtaking score that jumps from classical music, which you’d expect from a silent film, to traditional, Spanish flamenco; the latter being incredibly emotive when our heroine had to overcome her own obstacles. The wish for silence combined with the original score is the reason why this film, literally, has an award winning formula, as it has scooped up multiple awards.
Blancanieves has that Old Hollywood, back to the golden age feel that we get as soon as the opening credits roll on screen, similar to the old Disney films – or any films from that age, for that matter, which I thought was an endearing quality. Yet, Blancanieves is no Disney story. Its gothic nature brings to light the true temperament of the Brother’s Grimm Tales, which is lacking in the other recent remakes.
Now, let’s talk about the heroine. Snow White, known for the majority of the film as Carmen, is hands down one of the best female characters who has been adapted from a fairy tale. Why? Because she’s a female matador and she don’t rely on no man! Plus, she’s played by Macarena García, who doesn’t even have to say anything and she still out-acts Kristen Stewart ten times over. García is also joined by Pan’s Labyrinth‘s Maribel Verdú, who plays Encarna, the ‘Evil Stepmother’, who’s a nurse-turned-socialite through manipulating Carmen’s father into marriage and behind the curtains is a secret dominatrix. Yes, I’ve not exactly heard that one before, either, but for some reason it doesn’t surprise me. All of Encarna’s evilness aside, the girl knows how to rock an outfit. Seriously, I applaud the film’s stylist, because those costumes were, simply, gorgeous. Why can’t we have twenties revival in fashion and swap the peplum for spangle-y shift dresses?
One thing’s for certain about Blancanieves—the film does not stick to the fairy-tale rule book. You might get the gist where this story will lead, but don’t be so sure. The type of expectations in fairy-tales that Disney instilled into me as a child has surely been smashed and tossed into the gutter by this brave and innovative retelling of a classic. Honestly, the macabre ending is enough to make you want to find your own poisoned apple.
So, to put it in black and white (like the film, ha!): Go and watch Blancanieves. It is a true original of its genre.