The Brothers Grimm’s classic fairytale, Snow White is one of the most beloved of all classic literary works. It has been imagined and re-imaged so many times both in books and on the big screen that it would seem impossible to count just how many times the story has been adapted for every new generation. Regardless, the story has stayed largely the same from one rendition to the next. But never has the story been told as it has been in the recently imported silent Spanish film, Blancanieves. This Spanish import takes the timeless tale and turns it completely on its ear. Yet ironically enough, it somehow manages to entertain in its own right. It does so first and foremost with a wonderfully written script. Secondly to the movie’s credit, the acting of the cast was just as impressive as the story itself. And the fact that audiences have only been re-introduced to the beautiful world of silent films once in recent years makes this movie even more of a treat for fans of not just classic films, but films in general. All these factors together make Blancanieves a must see for anyone that has yet to see this love letter to the golden era of film making.
Blancanieves is the story of Snow White as it has never been seen before. Whereas most renditions of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale take place in a land of kings and queens, this updated take on the story places young Snow White in 1920s Seville, Spain in the world of professional bullfighting. It seems, on the surface, like a rather unbelievable setup for this rendition. But somehow, writer/director Pablo Berger has managed to make it work, tying together the Brothers Grimm’s original literary work into his own rich story. Audiences will appreciate that despite the change of setting and other differences from the original fairytale, Berger maintains most of the original story’s elements, including the dwarves, the evil stepmother, and even the poisoned apple. Speaking of the dwarves, Berger actually pokes fun at himself in a way when the dwarves paint on their wagon that there are seven dwarves. He then has one of the dwarves point out that there are in fact only six dwarves. It’s such a small moment. But the laughs that it adds to the story make it such a welcome addition to the script. It was just one of many wonderful moments included throughout the story that make the whole work such a pleasure to watch.
So many directors have tried to update classic stories with their own takes on said classics. Most have failed. But Pablo Berger is one of the rare directors that have succeeded in his task. His success is directly tied into another factor that makes Blancanieves a success. That second factor is the acting on the part of the movie’s main cast. Macarena Garcia, Daniel Gimenez Cacho, and Maribel Verdu (Pan’s Labyrinth) are wonderful as Snow White, her father, and her evil stepmother, Encarna. The bond between Snow White and her father is touching to say the least. By contrast, it makes Maribel Verdu’s take on the evil stepmother character that much more vile. Audiences will love to hate her and will love just as much to root for Snow White and her father. The dwarves are just as wonderful an addition to the cast. They along with Verdu, Cacho, and Garcia expertly interpret Berger’s script and pull audiences into the story with ease. They pull in audiences so easily that they won’t even realize that nearly two hours have passed by the time that the story has ended. That is the sign of both an expert acting cast, and an equally expertly written script. Even Berger himself notes in the bonus “Making of” featurette just how difficult it is for actors to do their jobs in a silent movie because of how they can hide behind dialogue in regular movies. Obviously this movie’s cast wasn’t afraid to drop their proverbial security blankets. Their acting was spot on. And it shows throughout the entire story. Together, they make for two of the most important factors in the success of this movie. There is one other factor to be taken into consideration when examining Blancanieves’ success. That remaining factor in question is of the story’s originality. It brings the entire presentation full circle.
The writing and acting involved in Blancanieves make it an unsuspecting success. The fact that the last time a studio—independent or major—released a silent film was in 2011 makes it even more of an unsuspecting success. It was that year that Sony Pictures and The Weinstein Company released the mega-hit, The Artist. Few studios if any have tried their hand at making a silent film since save for this release from The Cohen Media Group. Keeping that in mind, it makes Blancanieves even more special. And thanks to the combination of Pablo Berger’s writing and directing, and the cast’s acting, it’s even more special of a film. As a matter of fact, those factors come together to make Blancanieves one of the year’s best independent movies. It is available now and can be ordered direct from the Cohen Media Group website at http://cohenmedia.net/blancanieves/synopsis/. More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online at http://www.facebook.com/CohenMediaGroup and http://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup.
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