Friday, February 3, 2012

Snow White: A Tale of Terror

I just re-watched one of my favorite movies tonight. Snow White: A Tale of Terror. It features Sigourney Weaver as the evil queen, and Sam Neil as Snow White's Father. Monica Keena does a spectacular job as Snow White. The piece was made in 1997. Apparently it was original produced for theatrical release, but wound up on Showtime.

Kost Castle, Prague

There are many things I love about this movie. To start, much of it is filmed on location in the Czech Republic.  Kost Castle provides the exterior shots of Lili's (Snow White's) home. Many of the interior shots are also shot in an actual castle. Dobrichovice Castle is listed as a location, as well as Emauzy Abbey and Valdek Castle.

The character arcs are wonderful, from the queens slow but steady descent into madness to Snow White's evolution from a frightened child to a woman who confronts her demon. Even the brutish "dwarves" have a nice evolution from thugs to protectors of Snow White.

Spoilers follow!

One of the things I like best are the depictions of magic. A small bird being buried by sand in an hourglass precipitates the collapse of the "dwarves" mine. The queen dancing and twirling down the hall in billowing robes, ecstatically toppling life size statues (of saints?) heralds a woodland storm that topples trees. A sling aimed at a raven pierces the queen. Very neat, evocative stuff.

There are also disturbing images, most notably surrounding the queens stillborn child, and her obsession with bringing him back to life. One of the most memorable images is Snows father, lashed to an inverted crucifix and hoisted into the in the castles sanctuary. Then there are the castle servants, apparently poisoned and turned into maniacal killers (zombies?). And a little girl's faithful dog turned killer. In one of the most interesting turns, the "prince" (prince "charming") is seduced by the queen, and later killed by him.

The transformation of the queen into the old hag is wonderful. The scene where she gloats over the paralyzed but aware body of the poisoned Snow White is powerful.

The stained glass coffin, made from the windows of the abandoned church, is brilliant art direction.

And finally, the wonderful wardrobe with the mirror in it. The "source of evil". (can't find a good image of it!)

Snow White: A Tale of Terror walks the line between darkness and perversion, and IMO stays on just the right side of it. This is how a fairy tale should be told!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! We watched this on almost the same day. For me, though, it was the first time.