Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson appear determined to shed their teen-friendly image generated by the hysterical success enjoyed by the Twilight series. Unfortunately for Kristen Stewart, her attempts are currently falling short. Whilst her co-star is beginning to develop some truly interesting work – his latest effort Cosmopolis sees him paired with David Cronenberg – Stewart’s film lacks the opportunity to diversify that she so requires.
Notably the second Snow White adaptation of the year, Snow White and the Huntsman attempts to reinterpret the fairytale for a more contemporary audience. Thus Stewart’s Snow White lacks the passivity of the ultra-feminine Disney version, shedding idyllic domesticity for supposedly rousing battle speeches.
Despite this apparent change in characterisation, Snow White and the Huntsman in truth deviates very little from its well-known narrative. Snow White is still the embodiment of innocence: indeed ‘she is life itself’ able to cure various ailments in others purely through her presence. So much for a re-imagined, feminist heroine, Snow White’s attraction lies in her perceived perfection.
Charlize Theron, starring as the Wicked Queen Ravenna, initially shows real potential; her glacial presence is far more memorable and unsettling than any shrieking, the latter of which she rapidly descends into, signifying power by screaming. Ravenna, as some critics have noted, could be seen as an attempt at a feminist commentary; she is taught that her beauty enables her supremacy, rendering men powerless. Yet, any such comment, if even intended, is made far too subtly to have any true impact or indeed provide any redemption to the beautiful, good, and pure Snow White.
Chris Hemsworth’s titular Huntsman saves the film from its more dull moments, not through any efforts of Hemsworth himself (although his performance is more than adequate disbarring his terrible Scottish accent), but rather through the lack of characterisation in creating the other characters. The Huntsman is interesting purely because the characters he is surrounded by are so utterly dispiriting; with none containing any shades of moral ambiguity, the Huntsman’s pain at his wife’s death is the only attempt at a more multifaceted character.
Perhaps, in the future, there truly will be a feminist reinterpretation of such Fairy Tales, perhaps in a similar vein to Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. As it is, Snow White and the Huntsman’s efforts are entirely weak and half-hearted, rapidly reverting to form.