Snow White and the Huntsman is a Hollywood movie that was released in theaters in June 2012. It is the modern re-telling of the widely known fairy tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which became popular in Europe in the beginning of the 20th century. Snow White and the Huntsman has a somewhat different perspective from the classical version and draws upon several themes, as the theme of beauty and power, freedom and subjection, the theme of greed, revenge, compassion, and most importantly the theme of love and heroism. In my opinion, it is a film worth seeing because it provides a legendary version of the tale that successfully brings forth all those themes and notions in a fantasy medieval world.
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Story and Production
Snow White and the Huntsman is a Roth production film that was distributed by Universal Pictures,and as Liam Cumber admits in his review “director Rupert Sanders understands well his audience.” Despite having an expensive budget, its rank in the US Box Office proves that it was worth it. From its opening weekend the film had a gross of 56 million dollars, while the total grosses worldwide reached the impressive amount of 400 million dollars (Boxoffice.com). But the film’s success did not stop there; Snow White and the Huntsman continued topping the charts of home entertainment, as one of the most selling discs in September 2012 (Arnold). The reason that led to this positive outcome is the carefully selected cast and crew. Kirsten Stewart as the innocent-turned-into-warrior Snow White, Charlize Theron as the evil Queen Ravenna, and Chris Hemsworth as hero-Huntsman, form a unique triangle of actors that had all the potential to make the movie the blockbuster it was intended to be. Also key to success was the hiring of one of the best costume designers in Hollywood: the three times academy award-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), who was able to imbue the costumes with the element of epic and magic that was needed and give the movie its fantasy touch.
The story of Snow White is the story of a girl who is imprisoned by her stepmother in the years that followed her father’s death. Her stepmother, is the villain of the story; a beautiful woman that deceived the King into marrying her in order to become queen, and then killed him. Under her reign, the land fell in decay and the people find themselves hopeless in misery and poverty. At some point, Snow White manages to escape her prison and runs for her life, until she finds herself in the dark forest. Queen Ravenna, who learns that she needs to consume the girl’s heart in order to become all-powerful and immortal, is furious she let Snow White slip from her hands. The black sorceress is powerless in the dark forest; that is why she asks from Chris Hemsworth, namely the Huntsman, to seek for Snow White in the forest and kill her. Of course, when the Huntsman sees Snow White, he could not fulfill his task, as she reminded him of the beloved wife he had lost. After their encounter, Snow White and the Huntsman join forces to bring Queen Ravenna down to her knees and liberate the whole kingdom; somewhere along the way a group of seven dwarfs – outcasts under Queen Ravenna’s rule – come to support their cause.
Queen Ravenna and the Theme of Beauty and Power
Queen Ravenna is an evil archetype. She is a sorceress that can manipulate black magic, willing to kill anyone that stands in her way. Her heart is black and full of bitterness, because as she admits to the king was “ruined by a king like him once”. She was his wife, but when she grew older and uglier, he left her and replaced her with a younger wife. From that moment on, she gave into darkness and set herself to become beautiful for ever, and also take revenge for the way she was treated. Queen Ravenna is a cruel person, a deceitful character with complete disregard for human life. She represents the theme of power and beauty. She felt helpless when she was abandoned by her king, and that made her crave for internal power; so that she would never be helpless again. But the struggle for power is a vicious circle. The more power one possesses, the more he wants. As for her quest for eternal beauty, I believe that it is but another form of power for her. Queen Ravenna may possess dark powers; she may be able to kill at will, or heal herself from a dagger wound, but the one thing she cannot to do is force someone to like her and respect her. She knows that beauty is important because it affects the way people look at her. No matter what is in one’s heart, one’s appearance is what makes the most impression, and that is way she is after it.
Snow White: the Destiny of the Hero and the Notion of Freedom
Snow White, on the other hand, stands in complete opposition to Queen Ravenna. She was also abandoned and left alone – though this was the case because her father was murdered – and she even had to suffer in prison, while being only a child. Despite the adversities, however, she finds the strength to escape and the courage to go after the Queen. Anyone else in her shoes would simply choose to run away and never be found, but not her. Such is the nature of the hero: never give up, never surrender to fear and seeks not revenge, but justice; justice both for what she has suffered, and justice for what everyone in her kingdom has suffered due to the Queen’s cruelty. In the movie, one sees Snow White developing from a little child to a grown woman; from a frightened girl to a fearless fighter, willing to fight to the death for what she believes in.
The Huntsman: the Concept of Heroism and the Theme of Love
One cannot make an epic movie like this, however, and not have an archetype of ancient warrior in it. And there could not be a better choice than Chris Hemsworth; a
guy 6’3” tall, weighing 200 pounds (Chris Hemsworth Biography), with a body that even ancient warriors would envy. The Huntsman goes through a big change in his identity, and he is not a symbol for good from the beginning. At first, he is presented as a drunk, a person that has lost his way; that has lost his faith and his will to will to live due to his wife’s death. During the movie, though, and thanks to his encounter with Snow White, he transitions into the almighty warrior that she needs him to be. As aforementioned, Snow White reminded him of his wife, and that is in essence the wake up call he needed to become the good man he had been in the past. In the face of the Huntsman, one sees the transformative power of love that is given to the person who opens his heart.
Minor Characters and Secondary Themes
Having analyzed the major characters of the film and what they stand for, one cannot disregard secondary characters as the dwarfs. Indeed, they are not as important as they were in the original tale, but they still play their part in the unfolding of certain themes in the movie. They are a small group completely dependent on one another, each one of them with a different set of personality traits; in the dwarfs, one sees the theme of plurality. As for their relation to society, they are considered outcasts and forced to live as thieves, as a result of discrimination. Besides the theme of prejudice, the dwarfs also stand for compassion and duty. Despite being treated this way, they would still feel for Snow White’s suffering and feel a sense of duty to the kingdom, and this is why they decide to help her eventually.
In conclusion, I believe that it is a movie worth seeing whether a teenager or an adult, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy, war, and epic movies. It is a movie transports the viewer successfully to a world of might and magic, and one that stimulates thinking through the characters’ struggle for power, redemption, and love.
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