Saturday, July 27, 2013


Why would someone want to see a silent movie in 2013?

The novelty factor? Curiosity? Masochism? Ludditism?

Actually the masochism was entirely due to sitting in row M at the Paramount (rows M and beyond are not suitable for people with legs). It was curiosity to see a modern "silent" movie, and to see a Spanish take on the fairytale of Snow White, that got me to part with my money. As I hinted with the quote marks, Blancanieves is not entirely silent. It has sound track of music and sound effects but no spoken dialogue. It follows the original silent movie techniques in terms of its almost square aspect ratio, black-and-white photography, over acting and intertitles. The intertitles were in English in the version shown at the Film Festival. The almost square aspect ratio and the 1920's setting sells this film as a silent movie and the over acting meshes well with the fairytale script.

In terms of 21st century mores, Snow White is one of the kinkiest of fairytales. In today's terms explain why it is OK for a teenage girl to move in with seven older men, or why it is OK to put a (presumably dead) girl's body on public display in a glass coffin, or let a random guy sexually molest her? This sort of behaviour is only acceptable in fairytales. In Blancanieves we are in 1920's Spain and Carmencita is the daughter of a widowed matador who marries the scheming Encarna (whose sexual proclivities normalise the kinkiness of the Grimm Bros plot). Carmencita's childhood and Encarna's torment of her take up rather more of the film than they should but the pace picks up a bit once the dwarves come on the scene. Here we feel we are on familiar territory but we should realise that this version of Snow White has not been following the Grimm Bros (or Disney) plots particularly closely and while Encarma's demise is satisfying, Blancanieves' fate deviates from expectation to remind us that this version of the story is for adults.

Ian's rating 3.5/5

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