I have a new favourite movie role of all time. Move over, Keira Knightley, and take your Elizabeth Swann with you; if Hollywood ever comes calling, I want to play Queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman.
She is awesome. Mental. Incredibly beautiful and so incredibly damaged at the same time. For me she was absolutely the best part of this film (though Chris Hemsworth should be applauded on his Scottish accent) – and this is a film that features Ray Winstone. As a dwarf. I just wish there had been more of her, or more correctly, more to her.
This is a really, really good film. Seriously, go and see it. But even though showbusiness demands you “always leave ‘em wantin’ more”, and I certainly did when the lights came up, it wasn’t quite for the right reasons. I didn’t want a sequel – I wanted more of this one.
Snow White is an age old story, a fairytale that everyone knows. So with modern re-tellings like this, you want to be told something new, something different: you want the backstory to the events we know, to understand why it all happened the way it did. It’s why “prequels” are so popular (and why I am so ready for the next Batman Begins).
You definitely get some backstory as the film opens, but it all felt a little… underdeveloped. You are told things about a character, rather than shown them, which would allow you to generate a deeper understanding of them for yourself. For example, without spoiling anything, there’s this whole bit with Snow White and a deer. The deer was very nice, very pretty, and really showed off what the CGI guys could do – but I didn’t really understand what the scene was meant to be showing, or why it was happening, until it was explained away afterwards with one quick sentence. Things would have made a little more sense if an idea was dropped in and allowed to grow, blossoming across your consciousness like the three drops of blood that recur throughout the story. Instead you’re given a statement to accept, and then remember, and it just left me a bit lost at times.
I was absolutely fascinated by Ravenna. Obsessed with beauty and terrified of age – and of love, and the preference love always, always gives the former. On one level she’s the ultimate jilted woman, but it wouldn’t do her justice to just write her off as a bitter old trout, driven mad after being replaced by a younger model. I just wish I’d been given a little more time to really get inside her brain, and see what made her who she was and how she was. She is a fragile, tormented, scary reminder of the danger of placing looks, particularly your own looks, above all else. Told her whole life that her beauty is her only value, as it fades we see that her beauty is all she has become. Her obsession with her outward appearance has left her void of anything below an aesthetically-perfect surface. Outside she is glowing, but inside she is ravaged and spent.
Snow White is beautiful, but importantly she doesn’t realise – despite also being told repeatedly. At the very beginning her mother tells her that it is her caring and kind nature that makes her beautiful. She cares about something else, something more, than her looks – and so unlike Ravenna, there is more to her. For me, the Huntsman summed it up when he warns Snow White, “Don’t flatter yourself”. A lesson in what beauty really is, and a warning to all seduced by a pretty face – especially when that face is your own.
In all, a little too subtle, but everything was there nonetheless. An thought provoking, exciting adventure – and nice to see Kristen Steward with a smile on her face for once. A definite watch!