Hollywood serves up dull, derivative Snow White fare

July 28, 2012

Snow White & the Huntsman
Directed by Rupert Sanders
Staring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth
In cinemas now

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which is the most derivative of them all? I suppose to even ask that of a Hollywood movie is foolish.

Hollywood thrives on figuring what has previously interested the audience and recycling it through its cultural mashing machine to produce what it knows best: schlock.

In case you don’t know, Snow White and the Huntsman is the new edgy, dark reworking of the fairy tale in which Snow White, while still being saintly and gentle, kicks ass a la The Hunger Games’ Katniss.

In reality, it is as dark as a glass of Diet Coke and just as nourishing.

There are so many references to other movies in this that the DVD edition should include hot links to all the films it has “borrowed” from. If this were a university student’s exam work it would get failed for plagiarism.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the modernisation of Snow White. She stills reflects the simpering Disney cartoon version that we all know, but she rises to the occasion when blood and guts are required.

But if the tale was to be reworked, why did the writers fail to take advantage of other openings?

The Evil Queen is still possessed by the sin of vanity. But why not make her greedy, bleeding the peasantry through enforced, unrepayable loans, thus making her a replica of the bankers currently plundering the world?

Her Evil Majesty does have an interesting way of killing her male prey however. She apparently possesses a vagina that both imprisons and tortures men. Not enough is made of this on screen, thus preserving the M rating.

Snow White, meanwhile, in prison playing with dolls representing her dead parents, demonstrates her purity by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

“Interesting”, I thought in the cinema. “Christianity somehow exists in this make believe world.”

But not so! The prayer is really “product placement” to placate the US right-wing Christian lobby. Thereafter, all reference to Christianity ceases. The dolls are similar to Gladiator’s Household Gods and the producers seemingly wanted to head off charges of paganism.

Later, Snow White encounters the God of the fairy forest in what looks like an out-take from Avatar. But actually, the scene is a direct rip off from the 1997 Japanese animated film Princess Mononoke.

All cinema relies on the audience to suspend disbelief, and some relies on the suspension of good taste. Hollywood combines all that and relies on you to just be prepared to pay your money and go along for the ride.

Snow White depends on the audience’s recognition of all the cliches of the modern magic-movie genre drawn from the Ring Trilogy and Harry Potter films. And the crucial part of the genre, keeping you coming back for more, is also catered for.

In the end, the naughty magic mirror is still on the wall and Snow White has not settled which of the two male leads she will finally bed down with. Oh dear! Sequel alert!

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