‘Bella Swan’ and the Huntsman

Although Robert Pattinson has made great strides to overcome his fame as the “Twilight” saga’s Edward Cullen (with leading roles in films such as “Remember Me” and “Water for Elephants”), it’s hard to see Pattinson’s “Twilight” and real life love-interest, Kristen Stewart, as anyone other than Stephanie Meyer’s heroine, Bella Swan. This is most apparent in her new movie “Snow White and the Huntsman,” where Stewart is typecast as another pale, damsel in distress.

This newest adaption of the classic Brothers Grimm tale has Stewart as the fair princess Snow White and Charlize Theron as the evil queen, Ravenna. After being told that the princess rivals the queen in beauty — and also that consuming Snow White’s heart will keep her youthful forever — Ravenna becomes keen on capturing and harnessing Snow White’s heart. However, although Snow White has been locked in the castle since her father’s death, she manages to escape into the dark forest after a blunder with the queen’s brother (Sam Spruell). Furious with the turn of events, the queen summons the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to apprehend the princess. However, once the Huntsman finds the princess, he decides to protect her journey her rather than arrest her for the queen.

Although the film is titled “Snow White and the Huntsman,” perhaps the movie should be called “The Queen and the Princess” (this movie trailer seems to agree, portraying Queen Ravenna as the lead and Snow White and the Huntsman as supporting characters). Theron carries the movie as Ravenna: a queen as cruel, vicious and human as Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), the ice-cold blond queen from George R. R. Martin’s and HBO’s “Game of Thones” series. While Stewart’s performance as Snow White is lackluster, Theron as Ravenna is hateful. In one scene she is surrounded by dead bodies she just consumed. “I should have killed her when she was a child,” Theron confesses in one scene. “Where is she?” she demands madly in another. However, as much as you want to hate the Queen, you can’t help but feel empathy for her.

“I, too, lost my mother when I was a young girl,” Ravenna tells a young Snow White. “I can never take your mother’s place, ever.” Some of Ravenna’s late mother’s parting words: “You’re beauty is all that can save you, Ravenna. This spell will make your beauty your power and protection.”

With touching scenes like this, you almost feel sorry for the queen.

“I was ruined by a king like you once,” Ravenna tells the king right before she stabs him in bed on their honeymoon. “I replaced his queen, an old woman. And in time, I, too, would have been replaced. Men use women, they ruin us and when they are finished with us they throw us to their dogs like scraps.” (With King Robert’s favorite hobbies as whoring and hunting, I think wife Cersei Lannister would agree with these sentiments, don’t you?) If sympathy is not what you feel, at least you understand her motivations.

As much as the character of the queen is fully fleshed out, other pieces in the movie don’t add up. For example, the movie begins with a narration by Hemsworth the Huntsman, but doesn’t conclude with one. Instead, it concludes with Stewart’s awkward smile (smirk? grimace?) as she sits before her full court. It is also unclear how the relationship between Snow White and the Huntsman resolves — even though it’s the title (and therefore subject?) of the film. Most of all, however, it’s unclear why Stewart was cast in this film.

If not for the flattering statements and reactions from the cast supporting her, it would be hard to see Stewart’s “rare beauty” and “fairness.” Sure, Stewart has moments with children and forest animals (she growls at a monster, dances with a dwarf and pets a great white stag’s muzzle), but perhaps it’s too hard to see Stewart as the epitome of good (especially when it’s easier to see her smooching her vampire boyfriend). Instead, her pureness is suggested, coaxed and reinforced through words and repetition: “She is life itself,” says Muir, one of the dwarves. “… Where she leads, I follow.” After all, how would Stewart’s cry for blood and war be moving if not for the people (or dwarves) rallying in support of her? If not for the undying love of William (Sam Clafin), her childhood friend; and the Huntsman — who both kiss her, hoping to revive her from the queen’s poisoned apple? If not for the queen — who considers the princess to be her greatest adversary? Stewart’s acting seems stale as the apple she chokes on, but perhaps that’s because the viewer’s mind is poisoned by “Twilight.”

“Snow White and the Huntsman” was directed by Rupert Sanders; and written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini.

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3 thoughts on “‘Bella Swan’ and the Huntsman

  1. Pingback: Fractured fairy tales ‘Frozen’ in time | Pass the Popcorn

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