Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Blancanieves

Often amusing silent black-and-white take on the classic “Snow White” tale retrofitted into a family of 1920s Seville bullfighters enters the ring behind The Artist triumph and impresses not much beyond being another visually impactful homage to period silents.

March 28, 2013

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1374198-Blancanieves_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Word is that the curiosity that is Blancanieves (Spanish for Snow White), Spain’s recent submission for Oscar foreign-language consideration, was in the works well before The Artist. Its late arrival shouldn’t detract from filmmaker Pablo Berger’s spin on the beloved fairytale, as he has a savvy grasp of silent-film conventions. What might make for a shorter life in the ring is the bullfighting theme (blood sports and characters who embrace them aren’t every viewer’s glass of Rioja). Another red cape is the film’s low charm quotient, charm being what The Artist had in spades.

Still, Blancanieves offers novelty and some pretty stunning visuals that should keep eyeballs engaged. Respecting its source material but adding some Spanish spice, Berger gives us his Snow White character by way of Carmen (Macarena Garcia), whose mother died after giving birth to her. She is left in the hands of her beloved father Antonio (Daniel Giménez Cacho), a famous matador who becomes severely gored in a bullfight. Unfortunately, he married the monstrously evil Encarna (Maribel Verdú), who becomes Carmen’s stepmother.

When an aged, wheelchair-bound Antonio finally dies, Carmen is on her own in the handsome family villa to endure Encarna’s cruel tyranny, including an unspeakable prank done to Carmen’s beloved rooster. Ultimately, Carmen flees the stepmother and, wandering the countryside, is rescued by a troupe of bullfighting dwarfs who travel by wagon to their fights. A stark contrast to Encarna, these little guys are kind and encourage Carmen, whom they anoint Snow White, to try her talent in the ring.

Like her father, Carmen becomes a bullfighting star, but the ensuing publicity reaches Encarna, who will confront Carmen in perhaps her most dangerous showdown. This occurs at the area’s most important bullfighting match, where Carmen must also confront a dangerous bull (although there’s some intrigue regarding which animal—gentle or vicious—will be sent into the ring). Obviously, this is a Snow White who does not whistle while she works.

The film’s strong score from Alfonso de Vilallonga and some occasional inter-titles in English enhance this unusual journey, as does Kiko de la Rica’s inventive cinematography (dramatic overheads of the bullrings, dissolves, montages, occasional effects, etc.)

In spite of an abundance of flash and nerve (yes, the dwarfs do their fighting against small bulls), this winner of ten Goya Awards with ringside appeal on the Spanish home front might find stateside appeal as challenging as a charging bull.


Film Review: Blancanieves

Often amusing silent black-and-white take on the classic “Snow White” tale retrofitted into a family of 1920s Seville bullfighters enters the ring behind The Artist triumph and impresses not much beyond being another visually impactful homage to period silents.

March 28, 2013

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1374198-Blancanieves_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Word is that the curiosity that is Blancanieves (Spanish for Snow White), Spain’s recent submission for Oscar foreign-language consideration, was in the works well before The Artist. Its late arrival shouldn’t detract from filmmaker Pablo Berger’s spin on the beloved fairytale, as he has a savvy grasp of silent-film conventions. What might make for a shorter life in the ring is the bullfighting theme (blood sports and characters who embrace them aren’t every viewer’s glass of Rioja). Another red cape is the film’s low charm quotient, charm being what The Artist had in spades.

Still, Blancanieves offers novelty and some pretty stunning visuals that should keep eyeballs engaged. Respecting its source material but adding some Spanish spice, Berger gives us his Snow White character by way of Carmen (Macarena Garcia), whose mother died after giving birth to her. She is left in the hands of her beloved father Antonio (Daniel Giménez Cacho), a famous matador who becomes severely gored in a bullfight. Unfortunately, he married the monstrously evil Encarna (Maribel Verdú), who becomes Carmen’s stepmother.

When an aged, wheelchair-bound Antonio finally dies, Carmen is on her own in the handsome family villa to endure Encarna’s cruel tyranny, including an unspeakable prank done to Carmen’s beloved rooster. Ultimately, Carmen flees the stepmother and, wandering the countryside, is rescued by a troupe of bullfighting dwarfs who travel by wagon to their fights. A stark contrast to Encarna, these little guys are kind and encourage Carmen, whom they anoint Snow White, to try her talent in the ring.

Like her father, Carmen becomes a bullfighting star, but the ensuing publicity reaches Encarna, who will confront Carmen in perhaps her most dangerous showdown. This occurs at the area’s most important bullfighting match, where Carmen must also confront a dangerous bull (although there’s some intrigue regarding which animal—gentle or vicious—will be sent into the ring). Obviously, this is a Snow White who does not whistle while she works.

The film’s strong score from Alfonso de Vilallonga and some occasional inter-titles in English enhance this unusual journey, as does Kiko de la Rica’s inventive cinematography (dramatic overheads of the bullrings, dissolves, montages, occasional effects, etc.)

In spite of an abundance of flash and nerve (yes, the dwarfs do their fighting against small bulls), this winner of ten Goya Awards with ringside appeal on the Spanish home front might find stateside appeal as challenging as a charging bull.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Red Army
Film Review: Red Army

Non-hockey fans need not worry: This doc about Russia’s famed late-20th-century ice hockey team isn’t just for the converted. But filmgoers who don’t care a fig about Cold War-era tensions, culture clashes and the USSR’s erosion into the new Perestroika-embracing Russia can retire to the locker room, because these dynamics play big roles. More »

TheHumbling review
Film Review: The Humbling

Al Pacino’s superb performance as an aging, psychologically unraveling actor cannot save this pretentious and flat-footed film. More »

Mommy
Film Review: Mommy

Mom-obsessed Xavier Dolan triumphs with this startlingly original, compellingly watchable character study that is simultaneously hilarious, appalling and sad. More »

Manny
Film Review: Manny

Engaging look at legendary boxer Manny Pacquiao is best for hardcore fight fans. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Paddington
Film Review: Paddington

This feel-good, looks-great first-time big-screen adaptation of the beloved British children's stories about a stowaway Peruvian bear finding his, er, bearings in London is much more than just, oops, bearable. The handsome production greatly benefits from a top-notch cast of some of the U.K.’s finest actors and its beautiful blend of CGI-enriched live action and animated ursine star. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here