BLOGS

Indie Snapshot: Blancanieves

by admin March 29, 2013 5:59 am
Indie Snapshot: Blancanieves

If last year's effects-laden blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman (or, for that matter, ABC's ongoing Once Upon a Time) isn't your ideal re-telling of the classic fairy tale about a beautiful princess, an evil queen and a poisoned apple, you might fall under the spell of Blancanieves, a black-and-white silent version of the oft-told legend, written and directed by Spanish filmmaker Pablo Berger. Transported from medieval times to Seville circa 1920, the film also recasts Snow White's royal characters as bullfighting royalty, an alteration that, in execution, isn't as strange as it might initially sound.

Like the story goes, Blancanieves opens with the tragic death of the heroine's mother, who in this case falls to pieces after seeing her husband (Daniel Giménez Cacho), the king of the bullfighting ring, gored by a bull and left without the use of his legs. She manages to hang on long enough to make it to the hospital and give birth to their daughter, after which point she shuffles off this mortal coil and a treacherous nurse (Maribel Verdu) promptly takes her place at her widowed husband's side. While the grief-stricken matador withdraws from the world, his evil-minded new bride relegates the little girl (Sofia Oria) to menial labor. Flash-forward about 15 years and she's grown up into the quite the beauty, so much so that she catches the eye of one of her step-mother's henchman. She manages to escape his advances, as well as her home/prison, and falls in with a caravan full of dwarves operating their own bullfighting showcase. Adopting the stage name Blancanieves, the girl enters the ring and proves that she is most definitely her father's daughter when it comes to successfully taunting (and then stabbing) a wild animal. Naturally, her growing fame attracts the attention of the former king's new evil queen, who plans a familiar fate for her step-daughter.

Obviously, 2011's Best Picture winner The Artist has to be invoked in reference to Blancanieves if only because they're both lovingly made modern-day attempts to transport audiences back to the days of silent cinema. But that's about where the similarities end. The Artist was a silent movie about silent movies, one that sought to function as both an extended homage to a vanished era of filmmaking and a good story in its own right. (Whether it achieved that balance or not is the big question that separates that movie's defenders from its detractors.) Blancanieves is far more direct in its goal: it's just out to be a good story that's told silently. That's not to detract from Berger's behind-the-camera artistry, mind you. The black-and-white cinematography is beautifully evocative, as is his use of the close-up, which serves as a vital reminder of just how much can be expressed through a person's face versus pages and pages of dialogue. And unlike the fairly sexless Artist, there's a rich (though not explicit) sensuality to Blancanieves that puts one in mind of the memorable silent film sequences from Pedro Almodóvar's terrific Talk to Her. (And wouldn't ya know it? That movie was also about a female bullfighter, albeit one without any Snow White aspirations.) Overall, Blancanievesis a minor achievement in the annals of Snow White re-tellings, but not an insignificant one.

Get showtimes and tickets for this movie from Fandango.

Keep up with Movies Without Pity on Facebook and Tumblr

Think you've got game? Prove it! Check out Games Without Pity, our new area featuring trivia, puzzle, card, strategy, action and word games -- all free to play and guaranteed to help pass the time until your next show starts.

Comments

SHARE THE SNARK

X

Get the most of your experience.
Share the Snark!

See content relevant to you based on what your friends are reading and watching.

Share your activity with your friends to Facebook's News Feed, Timeline and Ticker.

Stay in Control: Delete any item from your activity that you choose not to share.

MOST RECENT POSTS

BLOG ARCHIVES

Movies Without Pity

November 2013

1 ENTRIES

October 2013

1 ENTRIES

September 2013

1 ENTRIES

August 2013

2 ENTRIES

July 2013

1 ENTRIES

June 2013

1 ENTRIES

May 2013

3 ENTRIES

March 2013

3 ENTRIES

February 2013

1 ENTRIES

December 2012

2 ENTRIES

November 2012

2 ENTRIES

October 2012

1 ENTRIES

August 2012

1 ENTRIES

June 2012

1 ENTRIES

May 2012

2 ENTRIES

April 2012

1 ENTRIES

March 2012

1 ENTRIES

The Latest Activity On TwOP