Friday, June 1, 2012

the Princess and the Crone

This is my reaction to Snow White and the Huntsman:

I don't know what to call it.  The movie is a mess.  Charlize Theron is the best part of it -and she's not in it nearly enough, Kristen Stewart was okay, the guys were all right, (like, cute, okay, sure, fine), and the acting and the action were okay... I guess.  At least the bits I was awake for -I definitely nodded off more than once.

Parts of it are extremely trippy.  I'm not ruining anything in saying that, for a few of the set pieces, I felt certain I needed to be high -at the very least, the writers must have been, (high, that is), when they wrote those segments.  When we left the theater, the overwhelming consensus was that the movie is a hodge podge of movies we've all seen before:

Princess Mononoke
The Neverending Story
The Lord of the Rings
Etc.

The movie is literally a bunch of stitched-together set pieces essentially stolen from other "films."  (I need to stop using the word "film" and just stick with "movie" for this.  Huntsman is no "film"; it's barely even a "movie" -but for Charlize Theron, who was amazing and woefully underutilized.  Plus, the denouement was extremely unsatisfying -but I digress.)

I kept falling asleep and then snapping awake for these various random set pieces, one of which takes place in a faerie forest (yessssssssssssss) where Kristen Stewart (uh, I mean, Snow White) is literally declared "life."  I realize this is a movie for children, (although, not really -this Snow White is for adults who like kids' movies), but talk about using an anvil to convey a message.

To be fair, in between all of that falling asleep and hating the syrupy soda I'd purchased and wished I hadn't, that (VERY OBVIOUS) message was lost on me, but, in one of my more lucid moments, (I believe this "lucid moment" occurred during the battle set piece, which was actually pretty good and managed to keep me awake), I suddenly realized:

HOLY CRAP.  SNOW WHITE IS THE AGE-OLD (and ancient) STORY OF THE CRONE, where WOMEN ARE BOTH LIFE and DEATH.  (Men are merely handmaidens (to / for women) in this scenario, which is one of many, MANY reasons why men hate women so much -women are literally god incarnate, whereas men are merely vassals.)

This is an awful story / myth / legend that has been repeated over and OVER, much to everyone's detriment -even in these, our allegedly modern times.  People consume these stories as entertainment, but that means that they're also consuming the ugliness that lurks not that very far beneath the pretty princess surface:

women vs. women
youth vs. crone
princess vs. witch
angel vs. evil stepmother

Honestly, at the end of the film, when Charlize Theron did NOT turn into a dragon to be slain, I felt cheated.  Why?  Because they hit us so hard over the head with their THIS IS WHAT THE MOVIE MEANS anvil, but then they didn't take it all the way.

Charlize Theron was all the things I listed on the right:  a woman, a crone, a witch, and an evil stepmother.
Kristen Stewart (er... Snow White) was all the things I listed on the left:  a woman, a girl, a princess, and an angel -a literally perfect daughter.

Add to this list the very obvious dynamic that Charlize Theron was DEATH and Kristen Stewart was LIFE, and that all of the men in the film were there in service to either of them and their awesome power.

Favorite line of the film:  "I'm going to give the world the queen it deserves." -Charlize Theron

(I really need to look up what her character's name was, but note that it doesn't matter.  She was the evil queen.  That's all you need to know about her.  She's not a person; she's a punching bag for all the reasons men hate and fear women.)


I'm actually fine with myths, because they tell us who we are.  What I'm not fine with is the packaging of these stories as bland entertainment that people then consume without ever really knowing what it is they're really eating.



Plus, they didn't turn Charlize Theron into a dragon and give her the righteously epic denouement that she so richly deserved.  If you're going to trade in such obviously blatant tropes, then don't dabble in them just to whiff it all at the end.



UPDATE:

I have revised thoughts on the ending, which I found disappointing.  Actually, it was only disappointing in the context of the wannabe epic action movie.

In terms of the ancient, mythical story, the ending in the film actually rings true:

only Snow White (purity) can kill the Evil Queen (pure evil)

In Huntsman, this is accomplished at the end of an epic battle scene and an almost epic fight between Snow White and the Evil Queen.

(Everyone knows that Snow White wins, right?  So I'm not ruining anything by saying that Snow White kills the Evil Queen, right?)

At the end of the fight between Snow White and the Evil Queen, Snow White manages to surprise the Evil Queen with a knife in the gut.  The Evil Queen is surprised, but rather than doing anything epic, (which is what I expected), she crawls a few feet away and then slowly -quietly -dies, while Snow White watches.

Earlier in the film, one of the characters, the actual Huntsman, I believe, asks Snow White if she hates the Evil Queen, and Snow White, ever the good pure-heart, responds, "No, I feel sorry for her."

In the end, in what was likely intended to be an elegiac death scene for the Evil Queen, Snow White wordlessly watches her die.  In her mind, (I imagine), she is realizing that she has only killed herself -for Snow White will herself become Queen, (her coronation, in fact, is how the movie ends), and grow old, and be replaced by yet another girl who is what Snow White once was:  young, and full of life.

In this sense then, the denouement is actually true to the myth, but false for the movie, which tried too hard to be too many different things.

2 comments:

  1. this is awesome. i'm croning away a little more every day here, and this reminds me to re-read "women who run with the wolves," which i last read as a princess...(you might also know me as dclioness)

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  2. ah, yes, I thought this was you. I've never read the book you mention; I may have to check it out.

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