From the mind of Megan Arkenberg

June 5, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman, and spoilers

Posted by Megan Arkenberg with No comments
I was going to write an insightful synthesis of my viewing experience, but then Genevieve Valentine did it for me.

Okay, no, I am going to write an insightful synthesis of my viewing experience. But first, let me second a view things from Valentine's post. This movie is very good-looking. Browse the tumblr tags. Put Colleen Atwood in a prominent place on your Oscar nomination bingo. And while you have your basket of bingo cards out, find the one marked "Where did I see that scene before?" and place tokens on Neverending Story, Princess Mononoke, and Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, because this is probably the only time you'll get to mark off all three for the same film. Good? Great, you can all put those bingo cards away now. Unless I was the only one with my bingo card collection out, in which case, that was embarrassing.

Really, this is a movie you watch for the visuals. The plot is...holey. The characters move from visually stunning location to visually stunning location without even the meager excuse of plot coupons drawing them towards their inevitable fate. In fact, Snow White is so clearly at the mercy of the plot that I was experiencing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead flashbacks, and even for me, that's a far-fetched connection. While 90% of everything that Poe says about "unity of effect" can be categorically dismissed as Worst Writing Advice Ever, there's something to be said for having an initial thematic idea and sticking to it. I'm not sure what this movie's idea was, but it did not stick to it.

(Unless it's idea was to be a plotless procession of visually stunning scenes. In which case--great job, movie! And thanks for all the unfortunate implications!)

The worst offender to the plot, such as it might have been, was the brief interlude in Fairyland (or whatever you kids are calling it these days.) Why where there fairies? No fairies had been mentioned before. No fairies did anything to further the plot (unless, as I suspect, that mysterious white-horse-on-the-beach was secretly a Kelpie having a bad day.) In fact, the only way I can even begin to tolerate the fairies is to pretend that this entire movie was a visual representation of some portion of "The White People" that Arthur Machen was forced to cut because it was too disturbing for his target audience.

But on one point I am forced to stand up for the movie: I liked, nay loved, the lack of romantic resolution. I choose to read that kiss as, indeed, a revivifying "true love kiss"--from the Huntsman to his lost wife. Seriously, test it out. It is ridiculous to expect some young woman who was trapped in a castle tower for all of her adult life to somehow relearn this interpersonal relations-thing, much less the romance-thing, while running from creepy hallucinogenic forest to fishing village to dwarf-camp to Fairyland to the Good Dude's castle and so on and so forth. And the Huntsman had just met her and clearly had *incoherent mumble* years more life experience (read:trauma), so please let's not pretend there was a possibility of chemistry so quickly. William had just been reintroduced, so liking, sure, attraction, I'll buy it, but true love? Give me a break. Any way they could have ended that "love triangle" would have been insufferable and contrived. (Yes, even this.) Ergo, lack of romantic resolution saves the day and preserves whatever vestiges of independent existence the characters had managed to chisel out of their archetypes. I liked it.

I'd close by asking something like "Is it worth spending ten dollars on a ticket and six dollars on a bucket of popcorn to see this movie in the theatre?", but let's face it, we're all going to see this movie in the theatre anyway, because it's visually stunning. But save yourself the six bucks on the popcorn. The queen eats a bird heart, guys. It's visually stunning. You really, really don't want that popcorn.


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