Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blancanieves - Spanish Silent Snow White Riff


Written and Directed by Pablo Berger

Starring Macarena García, Maribel Verdú

Genre: Fantasy

Opens May 31

Rating: 4/5

Spain’s official submission to the 85th Academy Awards® for Best Foreign Film and WINNER of 10 2013 GOYA Awards Including Best Film and Best Actress.
Picture it.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarves reimagined as the story of a female bullfighter in 1920’s Seville, seven cross-dressing dwarves, and a murderously evil stepmother filmed as a black and white silent Hollywood and European melodrama.  It out-arts The Artist using its own metier.
Snow White is a universally beloved fairy tale and you can’t mess with success in terms of its terrific plotline.  It is what it is and it brings sweet nostalgia of childhood.  But Berger has rejigged it to bring sparkle, magic and new life to it as a living piece of art, a diorama of beauty, wit and whimsy.  The beauty of fin de siècle cinema, art, and pop culture marry to make something extraordinarily gorgeous.
Carmen’s beloved father, a famous matador, is paralysed in the ring, his wife dies in labour and he marries his nurse, the wicked Encarna in a moment of weakness.  Encarna, a sexually rapacious – and kinky - jealous woman has little time for Carmen, who is delegated to slave labour in the mansion. 

On Encarna’s order, Carmen is attacked and left for dead in a river but she does not die.   A troupe of itinerant performing dwarves, Los Enanitos Toreros, who fight bulls and stage plays, take her in.  Carmen’s father passed along to her a passion for bullfighting and with the dwarves’ help, she becomes a star matador.   One day Encarna goes to the bullfights and can’t believe her eyes. Ta-DAAA!
The quality onscreen is pristine, as when the reflection of crystals from matador’s cape light Carmen’s cheeks.  The evil Wicked Queen, or Encarna, gazes at her reflection in her elegant tiled swimming pool instead of a mirror, constantly questioning her status as the most beautiful woman in the land. 

Interesting visual asides add character.  The details and sum total of the costuming and art direction are great achievements, reflecting the sumptuous wealth of Encarna, the simplicity of the lives of the dwarves and their Snow White Carmen and the electricity of a stadium of fans watching bullfights.  The squeamish need not worry; there is nothing vicious in the bullfighting.
Alfonso de Vilallonga’s joyous music is a happy collaboration of flamenco, symphony, and silent film piano tinkles.  One of the best tracks in a long while.




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