Friday, July 24, 2015

Snow White and the tldr Huntsman

I love fairy tales, so I was excited about the possibilities of "Snow White and the Huntsman" when it came out. I paid full price to see it in a theater and bought the blue-ray/dvd pack for $5 on Black Friday back in 2012. Then didn't open it until this morning to re-watch it (three years later.)

The movie intrigued me. Not because I thought the movie was particularly well made, but because it had enough plot holes and missing bits that I was sure it *had* to be an adaptation from a book.

I spent hours online searching for a book about Snow White that would have inspired the movie. Now, either I don't have the right kind of google-fu, or the screenwriter and/or director left the plot holes and inconsistencies in the finished film on purpose thinking they were being clever.

*stares confusedly at Hollywood*

I did find some decent fan-fic while hunting. Most of it was better written than the script. And of course some of it read as if maybe that particular wannabe author really had written the screenplay. *cough*


I re-watched this movie last night, er, early this morning, thinking that I haaaaad to be remembering bits of the story incorrectly. Yup, I sure was, but my memory had sugar coated quite a few things.

At 5:30 a.m. I found myself wishing I'd made popcorn to throw at the screen when Snow began her "writhing iron" inspiration speech that made men in the movie cheer (because they were *paid* to cheer) and men watching the movie groan in pain. It inspired me to hit the mute button.

-- I think Writhing Iron will be the name of the my next band. --

tl;dr - the bits I question and snark about because they got the story ALL WRONG!


The title led me to believe that the movie was about Snow White and the Huntsman.-- and ok, it is--  However, the beginning of the movie illustrates a sweet and lasting friendship between Snow and WILLIAM. In fact, the opening scenes promise we'll see these two together again.

Frankly, I was expecting William to grow up and turn into the Huntsman after the Queen took over. But nooooooooo.

The title LIED! It did not give me Snow White and the Huntsman. It gave me

RAVENNA: A Tale of Beauty and Power 
Snow White, William, and the Huntsman
Plus the Seven Awesome Dwarves
 Never go up against a Cecilian when death is on the line!
Free Popcorn to the first person who can tell me who has what spell on them that needs to be broken.

Poor William!! Not only did he mourn Snow's loss as a child, but when he found out she was still alive as an adult, he moved heaven and earth to help her save the kingdom.

Then she goes and picks the huntsman. huh. that's hormones for you.

Wait. Let me re-watch the ending.

Noooo... waaaait, Um, I'm thinking this is may be one of those stories where she gets her cake AND eats it too, but we don't see it because that wouldn't be pg-13.


The story gave me absolutely no reason to root for the Huntsman *instead* of William. Both of them had lost loved ones. Both of them had suffered at the hands of Ravenna. Both of them were capable leaders, and both of them were invested in saving Snow.

Aside from the Huntsman's confession before he kissed her, I just don't get how his was the kiss of "true love" that woke her up. Maybe it's that god thing and his alternate Thorness was breaking through the dimensional rifts?

I think the rules here about the 'spell' and whatnot of her dead/not-death need to be FIXED.

*grumble grumble hollywood grumble "writers" grumble grumble*

My idea is better. They should have made William the Huntsman.


The girl has been imprisoned since she was a small child, yet she can run, ride a horse, swim well enough to get out of an extremely dangerous surf, AND HAS LEATHER PANTS! AND SHOES!

What the what??  Who gives their medieval women pants? And who gives their prisoners shoes???

Don't give me the feministic whatever about women wearing whatever they want regardless of the time period. yadda yadda whatever. My great-grandmother was known as The Girl Who Wore Pants because she delivered mail and some of the packages tore her skirt. Her family and the local populace was all a-flutter because a girl wore pants, but no one made her change out of them while she was working.

Trust me, it's not the fact that it's a girl wearing pants. It's the fact that Snow has been a prisoner in a tower since she was a child of, what? 8? 10 at the most? For what purpose are they giving her pants? to give her more tortuous layers to deal with during her monthly visits from the evil red fairy? Did one of the guards choose tailoring as his second skill and needed to use her as a practice dummy?

Maybe one of the birds dropped the clothing in her cell as an improvised chastity belt because they knew the whacked-out brother was on his way up?

It's as if they were planning for her to escape. Hmmm


Wait, when did this happen??  She talks about this after her 'hey-I-was-dead-but-Thor-kissed-me-so-just-kidding' moment, so I assume it happened while she was checked out.

But, but, but.. HEY!!!

*Stabs finger pointedly at screenwriter*

There are some things I will buy into because I've already accepted this is a world where my normal laws don't work. You know, things like Ravenna turning into a murder of crows to fly away, much like a vampire turns into a cloud of bats or fog. (Cuz that was COOL!! So was the bit about her putting herself together again. Humpty Dumpty didn't fall off a wall, she kamakaze dove into the floor and went splat.)

Anyway, you cannot, CANNOT have Snow tell me she now knows how to Kill Ravenna without showing me how she knows this.


Obviously you can. You did it. BUT YOU DID NOT DO IT WELL!

I don't believe it. I don't believe for one second that Snow actually saw or experienced anything. Why? Because me, the audience, reader, dreamer, lover-of-stories, did not get to see or experience this revelation with her. Therefore it didn't happen.

And don't expect me to believe that short conversation with Ravenna while drugged gave her this amazing insight. Because, helloooo, half that dialogue was about breaking some spell, and I still don't know who cast what spell on who there. Because if that was the case, then Snow learned how to dispell the spell on herself?? I'm unaware of any spell that Snow cast on Ravenna, but that is referred to as well. CONFUSION ABOUNDS!!

Give me some snippet, some funky dream/nightmare sequence. It could be a revisit to her drugged run through the forest for all I care. Some vague metaphor for nerds like me to find while over thinking movies years later. You know, something I can point at and say "Ah-HA! That's how!"

Since there isn't anything like that except a reference back to a 5 second "here's how to use this knife and your arm" self-defense course that was never again practiced or seen until the queen needed to die, well... I've come up with my own reasoning for Snow's insane inspiration.

-- In short, there is an evil greater than Ravenna, just waiting for the right time to take her down so it can take control of that magic mirror and eradicate humanity. The Mystic Turtle and Its Albino Dust Sprites (they want to live inside your skin) have gotten inside Snow's brain! They tell Snow all about writhing iron and the embers it leaves in people's souls, then they coat her dress in the fun LSD spores from the forest. She walks through the army, and Ta-daaah!

The entire army thinks her speech is amazing and they all follow her into battle, no questions asked.

In the middle of the day so the size of their army and location can be seen.

To the front gate where they have to wait for the portcullis to be opened. So obviously boiling oil shouldn't have been a surprise, right? Or the hailstorm of arrows.

It was all part of the Evil Mystic Turtle and his Dust Sprite's plan. Let the mass of humanity kill each other, get Snow White to use that one trick she was taught all those weeks ago to kill Ravenna, and poof!

Work Complete!

The rest of them will be easy to kill: Just poison their lip balm.


Ravenna is hands down my favorite evil step-mother yet created on film or in a book. But I have some questions here.

My first, and most important, question:

***Why does she allow her brother to cut his own hair??***  Not that this has anything to do with the story or the plotline, but if there's going to be a creepy brother shouldn't he look more like a queen's brother instead of an overgrown toddler?

Does he resort to hacking at his hair because his sister keeps killing off the castle staff? Can he really not stand those white strands anywhere near his eyes or his neck? I just don't understand why she'd allow him to play with scissors.

Anyway... on to my other questions.

WHY IS SNOW WHITE STILL ALIVE??? Not only is she alive and imprisoned in a tower, but she's unmarked and unabused??!!! WHY?? 

I have never, ever, ever understood this.  In the original story, I assumed it was because Snow White's father was still alive and just unaware that his wife was insanely jealous of every other female. It wasn't until the mirror said, "Oh, hey, so'n'so is now prettier than you" that the queen became a physical danger to anyone.

In this version, the dad is dead. Ravenna rules all. So... "Because one never knows when royal blood will come in handy" the princess is kept alive, in fairly good health, and is kept decently clothed?? Um. Do these writers even KNOW Ravenna? Hellooooo!!! McFlyyyy!!!

I'm starting to think the screenwriters rolled a dice for each situation. For Snow's survival, Ravenna had to channel a James Bond villain. Without the monologue-ing.

Wouldn't/Shouldn't her mirror have warned her about Snow's use and/or threat, anyway? It gets quite verbose on whatever day it was that Snow reached 'peak threat,' so we know it can carry on some semblance of conversation.

And how did it pick the Peak Threat day, anyway??  Oh, the sky is a particular shade of grey. That sounds ominous, let's work it to full advantage.


Wait, what? I'm a perfectly healthy girl, but because I have a scar on my face, Ravenna can't suck out my life force? Hand me that knife or branding iron! Oh, wait, I have bad acne, so no further torture necessary. *whew*

Scars. Seriously. THAT was what the writers came up with? Women are safe if they have a scar????

*glares at screenwriters everywhere*

**mutters** Just about every person has a scar, so Ravenna is destined to be old and ugly if her magic is blocked by a scar. - even if it is just a facial scar - *snort*

Maybe I'm just evil, but I think it would be scarier if no one actually knew what would or wouldn't be a threat to the queen.

For instance, in the first few months of her reign, only young women with curly brown hair start disappearing, so word leaks out that anyone with red or blonde hair is perfectly safe. Then it's girls with freckles. Then eye color. etc, etc. 

And maybe there are more theories that start going around about how the weather or moon or some shooting star affects which girls will be needed. You know, stuff real people actually gossip and laugh at, then secretly worry about when no one is looking.

The women's village wouldn't need to be rationalized by "Oh, we're scarred, so we're no threat to the queen." It could simply be, "We're on the other side of the freaky forest, so no one bothers us here unless they're spirits or demons from the impenetrable forest!"

-- but then they'd have to relocate, because the Fireswamp doesn't seem to have enough ROUS's to keep the hunting parties out. So much for summer homes.


I assume that all of the men from the outlying villages were either killed or drafted into her armies since the scarred women won't talk about them. Or maybe the last of them were left to terrify visitors that get to close to the castle? Like the uglified villagers that Snow meets after she escapes her tower?

I don't understand her motives here. Ravenna wants power, that has been made clear. She *has* magical power. She *takes* socio/economical power. From a psychological standpoint, it makes more sense to me to have her lord it over the people like she does in the milk scene. She enjoys watching the people scrabble to drink the milk of life. She LIKES believing that she's a benevolent queen, so she neeeeds subjects.

And the scene that shows her interacting with bandits? Wow her cruelty and power is intense. That kind of cruelty makes me believe that she couldn't put everyone to the sword. She *had* to have people to use and abuse at her whim.

**HEY! Screenwriter! Yeah, you!  I know Ravenna's extremely sociopathic, but give her at least a little consistency when it comes to her subjects.**

Besides, someone was keeping that castle clean and it surely wasn't Ravenna. And someone was definitely doing *her* hair and cleaning her clothes. Maybe some of those guys in armor had dual talents?


Just how is she financing her living army? How is she feeding them?? Does she have her glass army dudes pirating on the high seas? Maybe that's why she wanted the castle on the ocean? It's definitely not the land or her farmers/miners/crafters keeping her in furs and silks. And it's definitely not the dwarves, because instead of enslaving them, she just killed them, too.

I guarantee Ravenna's not even considering a a wrinkle to feed a bunch of human soldiers. As far as she's concerned, they should be providing for her.

Really, whoever wrote this would be a collosal failure if they ever tried to take over an empire. Eradicating one, sure. They can do that pretty well. But take over? hahahahahahahaha, yeah, no.

yeah, yeah, yeah, "Fantasy = Suspend Disbelief"  but this is not James Bond. This is magic.

I totally believe the natives would work for her out of fear. She'd still have people running off to join the Duke, sure. And yes, I'm sure there would still be traitors and whatnot, because that's inevitable when you're an evil overlord, but it would explain why she still has subjects that live in her kingdom and look to be reasonably healthy.

But given the facts as pointed out in the movie, there would be nothing left for Snow to save if Snow were kept imprisoned for as long as shown in the movie.

Consider: Ravenna has a brother who terrorizes and abuses girls before she 'eats' them.

You *know* girls and their families would start a quick exodus as soon as that bit of information got out. Can you hear the Pumba screams? "SHE'S GONNA EAT ME!!!!"

People don't reproduce, produce, or function when their land is dying, their young moms and sisters have all been taken to the castle never to return, and their dads have all been drafted or killed. I give Ravenna two or three years before her kingdom is defunct.


more tl;dr, and I'll apologize right now for any grammatical errors involving tense and wrong verb usage.

The more boring, but plausible explanations:

Magic exists. 

So, what if, in addition to her 'purity', Snow White has an inborn bond to her land and people.

The movie hints in an inconsistent and convenient to the plot sort of way that Snow's presence has a healing effect on those around her. Therefore:

POSIT: Her bond to the land is also similar to a healing aura that extends to and affects creatures, plants, animals, and people within her vicinity. Most are unaware of this because it is so very subtle and simply is. It's not something she can willfully manipulate, it just is. It's why she shines, it's why people tend to love her, it's why there are visible changes to both landscape and temper when she is around.

POSIT:  This magical gift is also an innate defense which acts like a charm, affecting those around her on a subconscious level so they wish to protect and help her instead of harm her.

** Ravenna, saving her for a possible "what-if" could be explained by this.
** The brother's obsession with having Snow for himself would be the result of the black taint on his mind twisting and distorting Snow's charm - something she can't control -  into something creepy and horrifying.

Actually, this particular theory is why I think Snow is still alive after all these years, AND why Ravenna still has people in the kingdom.

* Snow is bonded to the land, therefore her presence, even from a high tower, prevents the land from dying and rotting completely. It continues to fight the corruption that has come upon it.

* Because Ravenna's magic is destructive in nature, the costs to use it become greater and greater due to the fact that it is in direct opposition to Snow's natural constructive healing aura.

* Ravenna knows she needs Snow White, thus forbidding her brother from entering Snow's cell.

* Snow has leather leggings, decent shoes, means to light a fire as well as the knowledge, and the physical ability to run and swim. This indicates a life much more full than her years in a small cell would allow. Guards must have provided her with a teensy bit more than her allotted daily allowance of food and human company.

Exercises and some form of training HAD to have been shared or demonstrated to keep her physical muscles from atrophy. Books and some form of discussion had to have taken place in order for her to keep her wits as sharp as she did.


So tell me a story about a girl destined to heal her land from an exceptionally mean and cruelly awesome evil stepmother, make friends with unlikely compatriots, and end up with her own happily-ever-after with a hero I can get all dreamy eyed over, and I'll buy your book and laud your movie.

You know... I think Ravenna is the first evil overlord I've seen who believably did the 'smile that didn't touch her eyes' thing that I've read about so many times in fantasy novels.

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