“The Artist” seems to have started a trend of glorious black and white, silent filmmaking. Pablo Berger’s Spanish “Blancanieves” is a welcome addition to this club with its stunning cinematography, wondrous performances and completely imaginative take on the Brother’s Grimm tale of “Snow White.”
As Spain’s entry to this year’s Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, “Blancanieves” may go down as the one that got away since it missed the publicity of the final five nominees. Yet don’t let it this film slip away from your viewing pleasure. “Blancanieves” is a delicious treat.
Pablo Berger depicts his Snow White as Carmen, a beautiful daughter of a famous bullfighter, Antonio Villalta (Daniel Gimenez Cacho). But when Villalta is gravely injured and his wife dies giving birth to young Carmen “Carmencita” (Sofia Oria), it’s not long before the “caring” nurse, becomes the controlling wife and soon-to-be evil stepmother, Encarna (Maribel Verdu).
A villain worthy of an Almodovar film, the twisted and highly watchable Encarna rules the roost and banishes Carmencita with her grandmother (a splendid Angela Molina) away from Villalta.
The evil sparks fly when Carmencita is reunited back to her father’s villa, some years later. Encarna has a field day with portraying the devilish stepmother and wife. As Encarna torments those around her, Berger and his creative team – cinematographer Kiko de la Rica, costume designer, Paco Delgado, hair stylist, Fermin Galan, and makeup artist, Sylvie Imbert, capture her menacing presence in terrific, over the top style.
As Carmencita grows to a young woman, Carmen, (Macarena Garcia), she escapes through a series of chilling circumstances and joins a group of bullfighting dwarves. Yes, you heard right – bullfighting dwarves.
Having no memory from an earlier accident, Carmen is thrilled with her new family. But don’t think you know everything about this retelling of the “Snow White” tale. There are plenty of twists and turns and revelations to come. And unlike a sugarcoated Disney take, “Blancanieves” takes off in a direction never seen before.
It’s no wonder that “Blancanieves” swept this year’s Goya Awards (Spain’s equivalent to Oscar), winning ten awards, including:
- Best Picture
- Best Actress (Maribel Verdu)
- Best Screenplay (Pablo Berger)
- Best Costumes
- Best Art Direction
- Best Makeup and Hair Design
- Best Breakthrough Performance (Macarena Garcia)
“Blancanieves” is a stunning visual ode to the glorious, black and white days of silent cinema, with nods to film greats Sergei Eisenstein, F.W. Murnau, and Charlie Chaplain. This film is worth seeking out.
“Blancanieves” is 104 minutes and Rated PG-13. It opens in theaters, March 29.
For other film reviews by Lori Huck, check out:
‘Tabu’ Film Review: Memories Are Revealed in Lush Black and White
‘The Artist’ Review: A Silent Masterpiece in Modern Film
‘The Skin I Live In’ Review: Almodovar, Banderas, and Monsters