June 19, 2012


Yes! This is a delicious, delightful, old-timey, coat-of-mail-clanking, halberd-swinging, plucky princess story. That we’re already familiar with! (Actually, 2012 is the 75th anniversary of Disney’s release of the animated “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” so it’s kind of cool that this version is coming out now. The original German fairytale was collected in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm as “Snow White” [tale #161], not to be confused with another German fairytale: “Snow White, Rose Red,” which is completely different.) The 21st century special effects make the film all the more nifty.

Dark-haired Kristen Stewart (“Bella” in the Twilight series) plays Snow White with her trademark Kristen Stewart stillness and seriousness. Blonde-haired, Oscar-winning Charlize Theron plays the evil Queen Ravenna with her model’s training and trademark Charlize Theron fierce seizing of her role. They are worthy nemeses.

Queen Ravenna had a deprived childhood (along with her now-accomplice brother), and her one all-consuming desire is to stay young and beautiful. Everywoman’s quest. What woman can’t relate? A spell was cast on her as a girl that assured her of her wish. The only thing that could reverse the spell was if someone was found to be fairer and purer. But Queen Ravenna maintains her drop-dead gorgeous looks by “eating youth”: stealing youth and beauty from everything around her (especially young women) whenever she starts to fade.

When Ravenna marries the widowed good king (Snow White’s father) she immediately kills him and imprisons Snow White (not knowing that she will one day be her downfall). But one day, when Snow White “comes of age,” the magic mirror (vanity of vanities!) tells her that Snow White is now fairer than she. The only way Ravenna can stay young and beautiful is to eat Snow White’s heart. Ravenna realizes that Snow White is either her earthly ruination or her earthly salvation.

Snow White manages to flee into the magical, menacing Dark Forest, and the rough but good-hearted Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is sent after her by the Queen. Instead of capturing her, the Huntsman and Snow White make a wary alliance with one another and have continued adventures involving vengeful dwarfs, a troll, fairies, and a village of women who marred their own beauty so the Queen wouldn’t harm them. Prince William (Sam Claflin)—Snow White’s childhood friend from whom she was separated when Ravenna took over the kingdom—is also on the scene with forces fighting the Queen’s brother, her army, and trying to protect and restore Snow White to the throne of her father.

There are lengthy lulls and pauses in the action in the Dark Forest and the fairies’ Sanctuary which could have been used better, but it was nice to have the quietude in the midst of the fleeing and battling and screeching of Ravenna. (The audience in my cinema was totally into it.)

Some of the blocking, stage-like theatrics and actors’ mugging into the camera felt very old-fashioned, but maybe that was on purpose. There are story loopholes and non sequiturs and episodic jumps in the action. But you probably won’t care.

There are deep Theology of the Body themes and imagery: Eve and Mary, men being able to see women’s true beauty and meaning, men respecting the God-given influence women are intended to have over them and over themselves (revealing God in a different way, revealing true goodness and true beauty), just as men have a God-given influence over women. It’s like a cycle of interaction and help and love. Theology of the Body: men and women CATECHIZE each other. But what’s happening today, because men don’t know who they are (as men, and especially as men in Christ), and women don’t know who they are (as women, and especially as women in Christ)—there are role reversals and role confusions and this cycle of the “otherness” flowing back and forth is halting at best, and arrested at worst.

This is not a feminist film. The way the royal blood lines worked out, the men will need to follow a woman here. They understand that and are completely OK with that. But there are certain things only women can work out for/among themselves: purity; beauty; womanly desires; feminine power, strength and authority; the giving life or taking life; goodness or evil; with men SUPPORTING them--just as men have to work out their own issues for among/themselves with women SUPPORTING them. But only Snow White could take out Ravenna. I saw this also as a woman struggling within herself. The good woman has to kill the bad woman inside.

As Ravenna enhances her beauty through evil means, the whole kingdom, the whole world/nature around her dies and decays. Good men become bad men.

Ravenna: “I will never stop! I will give this WRETCHED world the Queen it DESERVES!” (All sin is personal sin! All sin is social sin!) At this point, Ravenna forces Snow White to watch the men who were there to help/protect Snow White (like Joan of Arc’s men) die. It made me think of what “The Pill” is doing to men: the estrogen in the water supply feminizing men, destroying their manhood…. Do we women really want to do that to our men??

Wow. Women can change men for better or for worse. For the change to be for the better, the Immaculate Heart of Mary must reign in this world, and women must become other Marys.

This film should be OK even for younger children, if they can handle Disney's "Snow White." Not scary or gory. Mostly  fantastical.


--Check out how the original tale varies from this film (AND Disney’s version) and all the many folk tale variations!     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_White

--Snow White recites the Our Father in prison!

--Lord of the Rings didn’t have enough chicks in it. Maybe that’s why I was so bored by it.

--Characters are given good, solid motivations for their choices/actions. Bravo.

--My mother leans over in theater: “This is not your mother’s Snow White." :]

--Two wonderful “beauty and the beast” moments! “Fight or flight” is mostly a male response. Women also “befriend.”

--Joan of Arc imagery: the mysterious “maid,” riding into battle in full armor….

--The fairies looked like little Gollums. Icky. I like Tinkerbell fairies.

--There’s a total Team Edward/Team Jacob thing going on here, except now it’s Team William/Team Huntsman.

--I could totally relate to Ravenna’s deep sorrow at growing old. (Every time she started to “fade,” she would have to “consume youth.”) She even says: “Men use women up while they are young and beautiful and then discard us. But that will never happen to me.” She is not even interested in men (any more?) and does not seek a lover/consort.

--I would certainly go to great lengths to preserve myself. But I wouldn’t kill Kristen Stewart.

--“Hell hath no fury like…the will of an evil woman.” Like “Mad Men’s” Don Draper, Ravenna doesn’t even believe in love: “Love always betrays us.” Maybe this had been her only experience of love. How sad. Human love is great if you can find it, but we all need an experience of God’s love first. God’s love never changes. And we can always GIVE love.

--I like Kristen Stewart. She brings such a gravitas for one so young (22 years old). She refuses to rely on her loveliness. There’s a steelness and realness in her acting which I think is her real persona coming through. She’s very dark and postmodern in her interviews, lacing them with lots of profanity, but it feels like a kind of overcompensating for her gentle looks, and it’s as though she’s trying to tell us that she’s NOT just a pretty face. Evidently, the filming of “Snow White” was very physical, and she wound up doing things she really didn’t want to do like riding a horse. Is Kristen Stewart the new Kim Novak? Stewart is almost awkward in her bodily motions (in all her films), in a kind of modest, self-effacing way.

--Kristen Stewart: "It's such a rush when good overcomes evil."

--The Mirror to Queen Ravenna: "Her innocence and purity will destroy you."

--Dwarf: "She [Snow White] will heal our land."

--Snow White: “I CAN kill her [Queen Ravenna]! I would rather die now than live one more day of this death!”

--Ravenna wants IMMORTALITY. It’s our first vocation! We are all CALLED to eternal life. We aren’t there yet. As exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth says: “Tell your children they have a choice. They have a choice in life as to where they want to spend eternity.”

--I want to BE Snow White. This is one heroine I can really get into!

--Interesting factoid: The farmhouse in Topeka, KS, where the Pentecostal Movement started is now a Catholic church: “MOST PURE HEART OF MARY Church.”

--NICE costume design. COLLEEN ATWOOD!

--Ian McShane. (Is there any cooler name?)

--MUST READ: Mark Twain’s “Joan of Arc.” Ignatius Press. Must, must, must. Took him 12 years to write. It was his favorite work. (Ken Burns doesn’t even mention it in his Twain documentary. Bad Burns.) At Joan of Arc’s trial, they tried to convict her on her belief in fairies (as a child there was a fairy tree in her village where she used to go).

--Snow White: “Who will ride with me?! Who will be my brother?!”

--Dudes and dudettes should both like this film because it’s a romantic ADVENTURE (for the guys) and an adventurous ROMANCE (for the gals).

--Actors need Theology of the Body! Christopher West needs to go to Hollywood and do his “Head and Heart Immersion” week for ACTORS!

--Snow White is only love. Snow White forgives.

--Snow White: “But how will I lead men?” William: “Like you did when we were kids. I followed you everywhere. I would have done anything for you.”

--Chris Hemsworth kept reminding me of fellow Aussie, Heath Ledger (RIP).

--What’s in a kiss? Life or death. Men can LEAD women to life or to death.
Is vice versa true? Sure. But it’s different. There are some things we can say about men without saying the exact same thing about women. It’s OK.)

--Women can CHANGE men for better or for worse.
(Is vice versa true? Sure. But it’s different. There are some things we can say about women without saying the exact same thing about men. It’s OK.)

--The mission of every man is the dignity of every woman. The mission of every woman is the integrity of every man.

--There is no greater work of art than a good man.

--There is nothing more ugly to a woman of God than a man who will not acknowledge the source of his power.

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