You see. I read 20 some reviews of Snow White and the Huntsman. All "top" critics on Rotten Tomatoes. And many of them professed a lack of understanding about the romantic happenings of this film. I mean, they didn't come right out and say "I didn't understand the thematics of what was going on!" But they might as well have.
"The love story is kept in the background and is not used as a hook to attract would-be female viewers.""The closest this version comes to a prince is a hunky cipher of a baron’s son (Sam Claflin), who completes a half-hearted imitation of the 'Twilight' love triangle"
"...the relationship between sister and brother is founded on trust, but also, perhaps, on desire (Snow White's long-lost sibling, William, returns in the guise of English pretty boy Sam Claflin)."
"The feminist fairy tale that has given rise into the post Spice Girls-norm sees a princess who has no need of husbandly rescue. So step aside, Prince William (Sam Claflin), your crush may be in vain."
"Since Ms. Stewart has become, thanks to 'Twilight,' the very embodiment of romantic indecision, there are two possible suitors chivalrously circling her. Or two unshaven dudes, at any rate, vying to protect her and dividing the audience into Team Handsome Prince and Team Huntsman."
"In another nod to a more modern heroine, their attraction builds slowly (especially considering Hemsworth could have chemistry with a potted plant)."
"But the movie sidesteps scenes of romance, and in a way, I suppose that's wise."
"Some of the key turning points in the myth—for example, the scene in which Snow White is brought back to life by a true love’s kiss—are puzzlingly botched."
"It doesn't help that Snow White's romantic inclinations remain oddly vague throughout. Does she want to take a bite out of the Huntsman? Or does she still have a nostalgic crush on William (Sam Claflin), her childhood friend? This amorous tug-of-war is, I guess, supposed to remind us of the Twilight series (talk about letting a franchise tail wag the fairy-tale dog!), but in this case the choice comes to very little. And that's a real miscalculation, since Stewart is so much more convincing as a victim-hearththrob than she is when she's required to put on armor and lead a revolution."
Director: Rupert Saunders
And while she looks so sad in photographs, I absolutely love her when she smiles: Kristin Stewart
Where's his hammer?: Thor
I don't see why other critics are complaining about her dramatic moments, I liked them: Charlize Theron
I dare you to wear this haircut: Sam Spruell
Go-go gadget arrow!: Sam Claflin
Dwarf 1: Bob Hoskins
Dwarf 2: Brian Gleeson
Dwarf 3: Nick Frost
Dwarf 4: Ian McShane
Dwarf 5: Johnny Harris
Dwarf 6: Ray Whitsone
Dwarf 7: Eddie Marsan
Dwarf 8, the guy who just keeps appearing in all sorts of strange roles: Toby Jones
Okay. So. What's going on with the shortage of romance in Snow White and the Huntsman?
Let me set this up.
The film is a fairy tale, a story steeped in magic.
Before King Magnus dies, we see a lush landscape surrounding the castle. People are happy. There's laughter and fun.
Then comes that crazy bitch Ravenna. She kills Magnus, steals the throne. The greenery around the kingdom wanes. During the movie, characters refer to the "Darkness" that has stricken the land. The castle is a place of crows and ugliness.
Muir, the blind dwarf, refers to Snow White as "the one". She's supposed to heal the land, to lift the Darkness, to kill Ravenna. He says that Snow White is "Life itself."
After Ravenna takes the throne, until we enter the elven home, Sanctuary, all we see is bleak. The castle is stark and mirthless. The town is dirty, the people filthy. When Snow White is on her horse galloping through the town, she stops and looks around, aghast at what she sees. And there's this moment of menace as the people surround her, stare at her, holding not weapons but items that are being held like weapons and could be used as weapons. She escapes, thanks to the oncoming troops. And where's she escape too? Into a blasted place called the Dark Forest. The Huntsman is, at first, a drunk, a brute, somewhat considerate, but definitely self-motivated. The women of the village (on the outskirts of the Dark Forest) are nice but on their own, abandoned by the men. The dwarves are, at first, sort of disgusting, aren't they? They mock Snow White and The Huntsman, discuss killing them, refuse to help them. That is, until Snow White reveals she is Snow White. Then the dwarves become helpful.
Around the campfire, in Sanctuary, maybe while Snow White is dancing with Gus, the dwarves discuss the affect Snow White has on people. Their physical pains have mitigated, healed. One of them, maybe Muir, asks The Huntsman (something along the lines of) if he doesn't feel more whole, less wounded.
OKAY. That's the setup.
The obvious part of the situation is that Ravenna is Evil and is Killing Nature, is a Blight. And Snow White is Good and will Restore Nature, is Life.
Nature does refer to "the land". Flora and fauna. Trees, flowers, birds, rabbits, insects. Yadda yadda.
But people are part of the land too. And there's plenty of lore about the connection between humans and Nature. See The Golden Bough, the tale of the Fisher King, American Transcendentalism connected God with Nature and thus divinity of the human spirit was achieved by way of Nature. Emerson, one of the most renowned transcendentalists, titled his famous fucking essay Nature. I'm sure every person reading this has an anecdote about feeling at one with Nature, or rejuvenated by a camping trip or a hike or a walk along a trail. Why does New York City have a giant ass park in the middle of the city? Because people like Nature. It can be calming, refreshing, healing.
Unless it's devastated.
If Nature is destroyed, the Human Spirit suffers.
And this is what's going on in Snow White and the Huntsman.
The Kingdom is broken (usurped throne), family is broken (father is killed), friendship is denied (Snow White and William are separated), love is destroyed (Ravenna/Her Brother kill The Huntsman's wife), the noble of work and spirit are brought low (the dwarves), beauty is tarnished (the marsh-dwelling women scarring their faces), matrimony is abandoned (the men have left the marsh-dwelling women).
This is why there's a lack of romance. Romance, along with most other positive human traits in the kingdom of Snow White and the Huntsman, has rotted.
So what's happening, as the film progresses and Snow White encounters more characters, is a rekindling of the good in people. The Huntsman goes from his selfish motives and self-misery to helping Snow White. The Women of the Marsh show charity. The dwarves demonstrate featly out of hope (rather than the respect Ravenna commands through fear), and Gus sacrifices himself. Duke Hammond had been in defense mode, self-preserving, unwilling to break the stalemate with Ravenna and attempt to defeat her (though his reason was good--he was providing haven for those who sought escape). Snow enflames not only Hammond's spirit but those of all the warriors within Hammond's castle.
And like the budding of a flower in spring, we get the return of romance. A single kiss.
"What about William's kiss!"
Meh. The kiss William gives and the kiss The Huntsman gives are, I would argue, of two different varieties. William's is, in the moment, borne, I feel, from grief and desperation. The moment with The Huntsman is...somehow more pure? Softer.
The Darkening of the Human Spirit isn't the only reason for the lack of romance.
Snow White isn't just a girl. We're told she's "Life itself". Given the magical nature of the film, we should believe this is the case. Especially after the whole White Stag Encounter.
Snow's main concern is defeating Ravenna, restoring the land, helping people. She looks at The Huntsman the same way she looks at the Women of the Marsh, and them the same way she looks at the Dwarves, and them the same way she looks at William, and him the same way she looks at the woodland creatures of Sanctuary.
Keep in mind, she's supposed to be the fairest of all people (and, I think it's obvious this statement goes beyond looks). Of pure blood. And I think Saunders wanted Snow to come off as virtuous, as concerned with the world at large, as a person who embodies an ideal.
If Saunders had played up the romantic element, or the "love triangle" I don't believe exists (Snow never shows deliberant interest in Huntsman or William--yes, she kisses William in the woods, but...That was actually Ravenna, and we have no idea if Ravenna was using magic or not, so that kiss I do not consider evidence for anything...and I don't think it's a love triangle unless ALL THREE PARTIES are involved...as far as I'm concerned William lusts after The Snow White He Had Left Behind All Those Years Ago, The Huntsman is curious but not in high pursuit, and Snow is focused on other things), you lose Snow White as this human pure in her conviction. She becomes a girl swooning over two guys, who also happens to be trying to save the kingdom.
Whatever faults the movie has, at the very least it aspires to more than melodramatic romance.
Not only does the film avoid cliche romance elements, it does so by incorporating its lack of romance into the plot and themes of the narrative. Kudos on that. I think, too, this is why the "prince" character of William has such a reduced rule. He isn't even technically a prince. He's a...potential Duke? The film's creators actively wanted to downplay romance, so they removed the character altogether. Rather than a "love triangle" we have a...twist on the situation. Look, a girl can have two arguably "dreamy" dudes with her and not fall for either, not make either of them the center of attention.
With all this said, I do think the film failed in its payoff. The last scene is of Snow White crowned. Great! That's what we've been waiting to see. But then the movie just...ends? That quickly? After all this set-up about "She'll heal the land! She'll lift the Darkness!", we don't see it happen. The voice-over that begins the movie is never brought back. The tale, to me, felt half-finished. I feel we need more than just the crowning. The story was as much about The Kingdom as it was about Snow White. I would have preferred for The Huntsman to continue his voice-over and sort of...summerize the return of Nature and the Human Spirit. A few quick words, a few images, would, I think, have done much for that end. And, after so much strife and struggle, I think we deserved a more time seeing these characters...happy. I think all of us earned that. And maybe even a moment of actual romance.
As is. I think The Kiss is defensible. It's not melodramatic. It's not overblown. It's not even that romantic (I doubt most kisses between a conscious person and an unconscious person are). But, in a tale overflowing with struggle, nearly devoid of gentleness, This Kiss is a tipping point foreshadowing something greater, something warmer.
Did I Like It:
Yes. It's the closest thing I've seen to a fantasy novel made into a movie. When I was in high school, I read a lot of fantasy books. Xanth, Death Gate, Wheel of Time, Game of Thrones, Recluse, Rigante, Belgariad and Mallorean, Dark Tower, Sword of Truth, Apprentice Adept, Coldfire Trilogy, and more and more.
"WHAT ABOUT LORD OF THE RINGS YOU FREAKING IDIOT!"
Look. I'm sorry if you hate me after saying this, but...I don't think the Lord of the Rings movies are very good.
And I'll tell you why. Shot selection. I'm not going to argue with you if the films are good or not. They're absolutely an achievement, and when people say "I LOVE the Lord of the Rings movies!" I get it. No judgement. But. The shot selection involves so many close-ups and reaction shots that I just...don't like it. I make no secret about valuing medium shots and long shot more than close-ups. And Jackson, who uses long shot SO WELL in King Kong, relies, I feel, waaaaaay too heavily on the close-up in The Trilogy. Maybe there was a reason for this? Like...with all the special effects it was hard to do medium and long shots? I don't know. What I do know is Return of the King is nearly unwatchable for me. I put the first movie on the other day and turned it off 20 min in.
Don't hate me?
I'm not going to tell you Snow White and the Huntsman is BETTER than any of the films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. What I will say, is that it's CLOSER to recreating the magic, characters, action, and world of the (more modern) fantasy books I have read and enjoyed.
Maybe it's because I'm not an actor, but I don't think Kristen Stewart did a bad job in this? I'm confused by all the vitriol people are dropping on her. I thought, given the fact she's playing someone who had been locked in a tower for...5, 10, 15 years...she did a pretty good job of showing some confusion, some fragility, some unsureness.
Okay, her coming back from the dead was treated as sort of...not shocking. That part got to me a little bit. Like...no one says anything to her about it? No one asks how?
I liked that the guy The Huntsman fought with in his first scene isn't made into a subplot. The guy shows up again, of course, as part of the hunting party with Ravenna's dipstick brother. And there's no showdown. There's no banter. The Huntsman kills him without fanfare. I bet some people even missed it.
Didn't Snow White have any archers? Wouldn't you place archers on the bluffs to counter the archers from the castle? That way, when you charge, you're not being destroyed by arrows? Maybe I'm forgetting the particulars of the landscape and I'm imagining the bluffs being closer than they were? And now I'm just nit picking.
I get why people are complaining that the middle is kind of boring. But I liked it? I liked the traveling, the encounters, seeing how people react to Snow White. I didn't mind the disappearance of Ravenna for a long time.
My only real complaint is the short short short short short short short short short short short last scene.
I think it's interesting Charlize has had roles that are, to me, different faces of one geometric shape: Monster, North Country, Young Adult, this film. In each film, her character is a woman reacting to men. In 3/4 this reaction isn't healthy.
THE HORSE ON THE BEACH CRACKED ME UP SO MUCH. I guffawed. It was embarrassing because there were a lot of people in the theater. But...come on. That scene was ridiculous, wasn't it?
What It's Good For:
-fantasy book readers
-the Sanctuary scene
-assembling famous male, British actors
-reaffirming Chris Hemsworth is someone I want to drink with
-showing people what haircut not to get
-people are complaining about KStew
-they're complaining about the middle
-they're complaining that Charlize disappears
-someone will get their hair cut like Ravenna's brother
-she just lets the horse die?
% Character / % Actor's personality
Spruell: 150/-50 (just because of that haircut)
-Snow White movies: Show White and the Seven Dwarves; Snow White and the Three Stooges; Mirror, Mirror; Sydney White
-My favorite Stewart movie: Adventureland
-Theron playing with a giant gorilla: Mighty Joe Young
-Theron doing voice over work in a movie I think is underrated: Astro Boy
-Spruell: Defiance; Elizabeth: The Golden Age; To Kill a King; K-19: The Widowmaker
-Bob Hoskins played fucking Mario: Super Mario Bros.
-And was Smee: Hook
-And J. Edgar Hoover: Nixon
-Then, somehow, after these roles, was in: Spice World