Mirror, mirror on the wall, which version of “Snow White” is the truest of them all?
I am the Ranting Usher and I’ll be comparing “Snow White & The Huntsman” to the original nineteenth
century fairytale printed in Germany in 1812. Let me talk you to your seat.
Just as we all rely on mirrors to illuminate truth, moviegoers, in this case the fairytale demographic,
depend on Hollywood writers and directors to present films that reflect the original source material.
According to the original printed story, Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, which is as close to the original
as we can get and “Snow White & The Huntsman,” released in 2012, the story opens with a Queen sewing
in an open window during a winter snowfall. She pricks her finger. Three drops of blood fall into the
snow along a black windowsill.
The Queen, fascinated by the contrast in color, dreams of having a daughter with flesh as white as snow,
blood-red lips and ebony black hair. Unfortunately, the Queen passes shortly after her daughter, Snow
White, is born.
Snow White’s father, the King, later remarries. Snow White’s stepmother, a vain and wicked witch,
Grimhilde, becomes Queen. She owns a magical mirror. Every morning Queen Grimhilde, asks, “Mirror,
mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
The mirror always answers. “My Queen, you are the fairest one of all,” thereby appeasing her. The
mirror never lies. Years later, the mirror favors Snow White instead.
The witch is shocked. She is embittered and seeks vengeance on Snow White for no one surpasses the
Ordered by the Queen to drag Snow White deep into the forest, kill her and then return her heart to the
Queen, the Huntsman instead falls in love with Snow White, spares her life and ventures with her farther
into the forest.
Once again, the mirror never lies, insisting that the Queen may be the fairest in her kingdom, but Snow
White, who lives in the mountains, is a thousand times more beautiful.
With so many different interpretations published over the years, it’s a wonder anyone remembers the
original tale. Rupert Sanders apparently does because the classic plot elements in Snow White & The
Huntsman,” are well captured. The movie leaves little room for exposition, frequently launching into
battle scenes, quickening the pace, increasing tension and excitement. The scenery is dark, dreary and
bleak, which is what the atmosphere in Snow White is supposed to be.
The film is, however, flawed in other respects.
While the character action in the German version may be considered trite by today’s standards,
performances in the modern screen adaptations also suffer.
Kristen Stewart’s one dimensional portrayal fails to grant her character a sense of depth and
vulnerability. Even Raffey Cassidy, who plays Snow White as a little girl, has a broader range than
Charlize Theron, who plays the evil Queen Ravenna, not Grimhilde but Ravenna, uses a forced British
accent that is painfully obvious in her shouting, which she does throughout a third of the film.
That leaves only Chris Hemsworth whose portrayal of the Huntsman is the most convincing of them all.
His emotional delivery is genuine during the backstory involving his late wife although the said story was
never once alluded to in the 1812 version. Such is a classic example of creative license substituting for
good old fashioned character development.
“Snow White & the Huntsman” is far from subtle in the way that it steals tropes from other movies. For
instance, the seven dwarfs are depicted as thieves in the forest. They are not the least bit similar to the
merry men Kevin Costner encounters in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.” Also, watching Snow White’s
horse die in the swamp is not the least bit similar to the way in which we see Atreyu’s horse, Artax, die in
“A Neverending Story.”
When Snow White is brought back to life with a kiss after eating a poisoned apple, we are asked to
suspend our disbelief because it is, after all, a fairytale.
Clearly, director Rupert Sanders and his writers strove for pure romance, but to me it seems contrived.
In the nineteenth century Snow White, the seven dwarfs actually managed to remove the apple from her
throat and save her life. What do you think Sanders? Would it have been too much to ask to make the
dwarfs the heroes for once?
Both Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs printed in 1812 Germany and the American 2012 adaptation may
have their merits in storytelling. Obviously, the nineteenth century version is the most authentic and
sets the standard for all future interpretations. Its only weakness is that it is dated and has been buried
beneath several other stories either based on or derived from it.
The film is fairly accurate, containing swift paced action sequences and presenting a Gothic atmosphere
appropriate for a fairytale. However, due to poor acting, a dark albeit insincere tone, and the way it
distracts audiences from said source material with a sense of nostalgia concerning other movies , “Snow
White & the Huntsman” doesn’t take itself seriously enough to be considered great.
I’m the Ranting Usher and may whichever version or whichever mirror you choose reflect the
entertainment and truth that you so humbly seek.
Do you agree with my review? How well do you think “Snow White & the Huntsman” fares to the 1812
version? Let me know in the comments section.