Family Movie Night
By Karyn Bowman
I have been moaning that I wanted to see Snow White and the Huntsman so I could compare and contrast it with Mirror, Mirror both of which are the two ‘Snow White’ movies that came out this year.
The story is familiar to most of us – a beautiful princess loses her mother. When the father decides to re-marry, the new queen is a woman jealous of anyone more beautiful than she. When her step-daughter becomes more beautiful than she, the evil queen plots her death. But the girl eludes her by hiding out in the woods with the help of seven dwarves while the prince searches for the girl.
Now you might be wondering how two movies on the same subject get made in the same year. What often happens is that movies take a long time to be made, a 2-4 year process on average. Once a movie gets a the green light go ahead, if there is another movie similar to it happening at another studio, suddenly both movies appear to be racing to see who will be first.
Funny enough, the prince in Snow White had also auditioned for Mirror, Mirror as did Lily Collins for Snow White in both.
But while both movies work off the Snow White fairy tale, do not go in thinking these movies are identical. It is the tone that marks the difference between these movies.
What is similar is the theme of aging and how a queen is only valued as long as she is beautiful. Both Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron play women who work to keep their youthful appearance. While Roberts employs various spa treatments, Theron steals her youthful looks from others.
While both women dispose of their king, one does so in a manner that continues his life and her use of him. This queen keeps him under her control while the other kills her husband outright because of her disdain for all men. We do learn the second woman’s back story and understand how she became this way but in no way does it excuse her treachery.
The other theme that is present in both movies is the price of magic. Both women have used magic to gain their positions that resulted in deaths and maintenance of magical creatures. They have used magic to maintain their positions which for one woman requires a constant supply of energy. And both know there is a cost to its use.
The difference in these movies is the tone. Mirror, Mirror plays as a late 18th comedy with serious undertones that take over as the movie advances. It has bright colors, smart dialogue and sets that defy imagination at times. What I love is that the mirror is more that a reflection or tells only what the queen wants to hear. She has her secrets and will share if only the Queen would listen.
Snow White and the Huntsman is more of a medieval fantasy action-adventure film. The costumes and battle techniques suggest a King Arthur period which has it’s own sort of romance. We want to believe all will end well but first we must run through mud and muck. Something that surprised me was actual dirt on Kristen Stewart’s hands.
This is a darker movie than the first. The Queen derives joy from the deaths she causes. She does not mind the evils her brother acts out. Nor is she unwilling to create an atmosphere of fear within her kingdom.
Neither movie is appropriate for young audiences. I found them to be disturbing enough that I would not want anyone younger than age 9 to see these because of the dark tones in The Hunstman and some of the sexiness in Mirror, Mirror.
But both are interesting interpretations of the fairy tale. Mirror, Mirror is currently on the DVD shelf while Snow White and the Huntsman is currently at Movies 10.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.