Arts & Letters Saturday: Snow White and the Huntsman
November 24, 2012
This week’s art work is the movie Snow White and the Huntsman (director Rupert Sanders, Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman, Charlize Theron as the evil queen), released last summer (official site, IMDB page, Youtube channel, Wikipedia article)—not to be confused with Mirror, Mirror (Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane), another Snow White movie that also came out in 2012.
(I bet you’re curious to know whether one was trying to get a free ride on the other’s publicity, or at least to know which of the two had the idea first. Beats me. I can say that IMDB indicates Mirror, Mirror had half the budget of Snow White and the Huntsman. I have not seen Mirror, Mirror. For whatever it’s worth—warning, language—this reviewer concludes that The Huntsman is the better film.)
What stood out the most to me, given the current culture and especially Hollywood, was the Lord’s Prayer. Snow White recites it, without (as far as I can tell) any irony. In an at least semi-mainstream Hollywood movie (I gather—and I hope this won’t ruin your enjoyment of the movie—that the female lead is the same as in the popular Twilight movies), that’s remarkable. (Nightcrawler’s reciting Psalm 23 in the second X-men movie was another welcome exception to Hollywood’s usual treatment of Christianity, which is not to mention it, when they’re not actively portraying Christians as ignorant or malicious.) A friend of mine suggested that the whole story in this movie could even be read as a struggle between a Christian kingdom and tyrannical pagan invaders armed with black magic.
(I can’t find video of the Lord’s Prayer scene, or I would post it; the makers of the movie made other scenes available before the movie was released, but seem to be keeping videos of any other scenes locked down. But you don’t have to take my word for it.)
Less unusually for Hollywood but also worth remarking on, this seemed to be a clear struggle between good and evil. The evil queen’s motives were explored and she was humanized, but without excusing her evil or condemning those who resisted her, which I thought was pretty good.
Bottom line: In my opinion, this is not a great movie, but it is a good movie, more well done than not. If you are like me, you will not regret having watched it or wish for your two hours back.
It does have a certain amount of feminist excrescences, and a lot of things didn’t make sense or fit together—both especially in the last half hour or so of the movie. (Was Snow White supposed to use some kind of magic to defeat the evil queen?) This reviewer explores the latter at much greater length. I consider the former more or less par for the course in Hollywood these days; everything’s relative, and I thought this movie was not as bad as it could have been.
For further discussion, the excellent Steven Greydanus has a full review. (He sees this glass rather as half empty, but I apparently saw it as half full.)