One of my favorite animation stories is when Disney hired a group of female animators to work on Snow White and like this was a huge deal, it was Snow White, it was going to be the very first full-length American animated movie, it would go on to win a special Oscar designed just for it (they didn’t know that at the time of production, obviously, but this is how groundbreaking the movie was). And obviously this was back in the 1930s so everything was hand-drawn and hand-inked but…because they had the actual physical cels right there in front of them, they could put whatever they wanted to on the paper, I don’t know about you all, but I feel like I definitely take that for granted. You think ‘pencil, ink, paints’ and that’s it. And apparently Walt Disney had that mindset too because he was confused by the texture of the makeup on Snow White’s face and so he asked his female animators and they were just like, “Sir, we used our actual makeup” like these animators actually did Snow White’s makeup which is mind-blowing enough but then you realize that there were over 250,000 cels in Snow White and okay, sure, only a fraction of those cels actually featured a closeup of Snow but it’s still insane to think that we’re looking at somebody’s real blush here (once you see it, you can’t un-see it):
Neil Gaiman’s “Snow, Glass, Apples” Short Story Adapted for Graphic Novel
Colleen Doran has adapted Neil Gaiman’s short story “Snow, Glass, Apples” into a graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics.
The synopsis for
Snow, Glass, Apples
reads, “Terrified of her monstrous stepdaughter and determined to repel the creature and save her kingdom, a not-so-evil queen desperately tries to stop a happily ever after that was never supposed to be. Stopping ever after, however, is no small task…”
Snow, Glass, Apples hits shelves on August 7, 2019.
Tangled is now set in ancient Tamil Nadu, land of swaying coconut palms and rainwater evaporating into steam rising from the fertile dark earth. Rapunzel becomes Juhi, named after the sacred jasmine flower from which she draws her brand of magic. Mother Gothel is Kaliamman, whom everyone whispers is a witch (but no one can be quite sure). Flynn Rider is Faris: a dashing young trader from Arabia, turned thief due to falling on hard times.
Snow White is set in the mountains of Kashmir, known as the Swiss Alps of India. Here, where the wind stings everyone’s cheeks pink and warm hats and hijabs conceal thick black hair, is born Sana — a girl whose complexion matches the snow which surrounds her.
Sleeping Beauty is set in Punjab, the land of colourful intricate embroidery. Manmeet Kaur is being raised in isolation by apsaras, dreaming of a chance to explore the world (and maybe even meet her true love) — but she’s under a curse: when she turns sixteen, she will prick her finger on a phulkari needle and fall into a deep, endless slumber. Only the famed warrior Ajit Singh can save her now…
So I recently watched Snow White and the Huntsman and have concluded that this movie is an unsung masterpiece that deserves to be rediscovered. Here’s why:
First off, the movie is every bit as dark, scary and gross as an adaptation of Grimm should be and it’s a refreshing change from the usual Hollywood fairy tale. Blood, mud, dead animals and unrecognizable slime everywhere. This is Renaissance Europe in all its gritty glory and this is what fairy tales are about.
Through Kristen Stewart’s phenomenal performance the film gives us a fresh take on the princess myth. This Snow White has all the feminine grace and compassion of a traditional princess but is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She spends much of the film covered in filth and gets into all kinds of undignified situations. Stewart has a very visceral and physical style of acting and this is displayed to great effect as she wades through a sewer audibly retching and gagging, stumbles through a forest corrupted by dark magic or reacts to biting into the poison apple. Her performance is as always fascinating to watch.
The fantasy elements of the film are very creatively realized. The dark forest is a slimy and twisted world not unlike the “upside down” from Stranger Things. The fairy realm while more whimsical is still unsettlingly alien. I am amazed at how well the special effects have held up, especially the troll that the title characters encounter at one point. I know it’s CGI but it feels very real and solid with all the weight of a flesh and blood creature.
The worldbuilding is excellent. At one point we encounter a tribe of women living in a secluded marsh who ritualistically scar their faces to protect themselves from the queen. It’s an element that brings to mind the Vuvalini from Mad Max: Fury Road and makes the setting feel that much more grounded and real.
The film looks gorgeous! The sets, the costumes, the scenery, the cast. Even when everyone is wading in filth (which is often) I want to get lost in this world.
The heroine gets to wear armour and not the usual sexy female armour we usually see in fantasy. Functional plate armour that makes no attempt at accentuating her figure at all. She’s going to war and she doesn’t have to look pretty.
The final fight is a real fight. Snow gets thrown around and bashed in the face. She spits out blood. She snarls and grapples with the queen. Nothing about their fight is pretty. This is two people trying to kill each other and Snow is fueled by righteous indignation.
The film gives us a love triangle between Snow White and the two male leads with no resolution and that’s okay. This is the story of a woman reclaiming her kingdom and her feelings for the men in her life are of secondary importance. This was an incredibly bold move for a film to make especially at the time when love triangles were such a cliche. The film ends with Snow White’s coronation and that is enough. This is her story. Her hero’s journey.
Speaking of which, the coronation scene is groundbreaking in itself. The film does something that was unheard of in princess narratives of the time: it shows the princess becoming a queen. I remember when Frozen came out there was so much discourse about how groundbreaking it was to have a princess become queen in fairy tale film and we all slept on this one because it had Twilight era Kristen Stewart in it. Not to bash Frozen, I still think it’s a great film but this is worth addressing.
If this film was released today in the current climate of feminist discourse it would be applauded as a triumph for female representation and empowerment. Sadly Kristen Stewart’s Twilight-tarnished reputation and the scandal surrounding the film rendered it an object of mockery that was quickly forgotten. I have to wonder how a scandal involving a young woman and her much older director would be seen differently in the post-#MeToo era? In any case this film is definitely worth a second look in light of how much things have changed in the past decade in how we view female narratives and more specifically Kristen Stewart movies. Watch it while it’s still on Netflix. Show it to your kids. This one deserves to be remembered.
With all of the negativity surrounding Snow White that’s been going on recently with Kristen Bell’s remarks, I just wanted to respond with something more positive. Namely, positive and important lessons that children (and adults) learn from Snow White, and why she actually is a good role model.
You CAN survive abusive situations with your positivity in tact. The abuse from others doesn’t define you.
But, by that same token, when the Queen’s abuse threatens Snow with bodily harm, she leaves and goes to find help
It’s okay for you to have an emotional reaction to things that hurt you and you shouldn’t be afraid to cry
As she says verbatim, “Remember you’re the one who can fill the world with sunshine.” - Keep your chin up, stay positive, and share that positivity with others because you never know who it can make a difference for
Work hard when you are asked to and have a positive attitude and pride in your work (she always does her fair share and steps up to work to earn her keep and doesn’t complain)
Friends and found family can be just as special and important if your real family isn’t healthy for you
Stick by what you want and be firm when you have to be (she doesn’t let the dwarfs walk all over her and takes charge of the situations there)
Never stop believing in love even when it’s hard
Help others in need whenever you can
You CAN change people’s minds and hearts (I mean, gosh, Snow White is the only Disney film where the main character arc is a misogynist (Grumpy) learning to give up his misguided ways and value traditionally feminine things like emotions and sentimentality because of the influence of a princess - how is that NOT an important feminist message??)
Someone should rewrite Snow White as a Royal Heist Fairytale.
Snow White is your plucky princess who’s pretty, and smart. Maybe a little too pretty and smart and most definitely magic. She’s also the only royal heir to the throne.
The “Evil” Queen is obviously a witch. She’s a witch from the get go. Like no fucks given in your face. And it’s obvious she’s out for the throne, using the flimsiest excuses possible.
Except plot twist Snow and the Queen are actually working together because Snow knows that the nearby kingdoms and her own nobility have been circling her like vultures since birth, and they’ve illegally and sneakily gained/annexed parts of the kingdom.
Also because evil step mothers are cliche, and we should replace them with step mothers and step daughters bonding by stealing a whole kingdom together using ridiculous indy ploys.