WRITER /director Pablo Berger’s telling of the story by the brothers Grimm about a beautiful girl-child who winds up in a community of seven dwarves and eventually gets even with her wicked stepmother has won many awards.
Walt Disney’s cute animation “Snow White” (1937) lingers in memory because of songs more than story telling. Berger’s film is silent save for a musical background. What elevates it way beyond cute is its depiction of adult behaviours, with sexual jealousy, greed and child abuse driving the plot in ways that Disney could never have embraced.
When a bull beats toreador Antonio, his distraught wife gives birth to a girl then dies. Ten years later in 1929, stepmother Encarna is employing the child as a domestic slave, forbidden to enter an upper-floor room in the mansion. Why? No prizes for guessing that wheelchair-bound Antonio lives there or that, in time, the girl does get into see him and have him teach her the toreador trade.
When the child now a woman repels Encarna’s chauffeur’s attempts to put the hard word on her, he drowns her in the river.
But is she really drowned? A group of seven mountebank dwarves fishes her out, adopts her, names her Blancanieves, recognises her value to the comedy opening act to the main event in the ring, and so it goes on to a denouement borrowed from another brothers Grimm tale, “The Sleeping Beauty”.
The black-and-white cinematography delivers high artistic and nostalgia values. The plot treatment aims the film at grown-ups. Engage the baby sitter. You won’t regret it.
At Palace Electric and Capitol 6