"Who is the Fairest of them All?"
R. M. Fisher | New Zealand = Middle Earth! | 04/06/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Though there are some serious deviations to this new version of the Snow White fairytale, on the whole I enjoyed watching it, especially in terms of its beautiful visual style. As most reviewers have already said, everything in the scenes are bright and colourful, yet ornate and whimsical, giving it a truly fairytale feel. Costumes in particular are lovely whether it be the rainbow outfits of the dwarves or Snow White's own princess-wardrobe.
The story harks back more to the Grimm's fairytale, and so is perhaps not for younger viewers (though kids get very little credit these days - if they can watch the Queen's transformation scene in the Disney version of "Snow White", I think they could deal with this). The wood-dwelling couple John and Josephine give birth to a baby daughter according to Jo's wishes when she pricked her finger on a rosebush: a child with hair black as ebony, lips red as blood and skin as white as snow.
However when the difficult birth takes Jo's life, John is forced to leave their home to fetch milk for his daughter. He stumbles through the snow, unable to find the village and only survives when his tears melt the icy prison of the Green-Eyed Granter of Wishes, who grants John three wishes in gratitude. Hardly able to believe the situation, John wishes for milk, a kingdom and his queen. The first two are easy work for the genie, but for John's 'queen', the genie goes to his sister Elspeth, an ugly wench who lives to spread misery over the forest creatures (she has a garden of 'real' garden gnomes!) Transforming her into a beautiful woman she gleefully forces John to fall in love with her through the use of a magic mirror, leaving her with a husband to manipulate, a kingdom to rule, and a stepdaughter to hate...
The movie actually adds quite a lot of components from the Hans Christian Anderson fairytale "The Snow Queen", namely the role of the mirror. When Elspeth shatters it, two shards fly into John - one in his eye and one into his heart - the same thing that happens to Kay in Anderson's tale. I suspect many people were confused at the whole mirror sequence if they weren't familiar with this other story, but it is an interesting melding of stories.
Miranda Richardson magnificently plays the role of Elspeth, the evil stepmother and in many ways it is she who is the star of the production. She plays her role with great pizzazz from the twisted, bitter hag to the joyful maiden to the jealous and suspecting wife. Tom Irwin is a little hen-pecked as John, but ultimately we feel more sympathy than scorn for him. Unfortunately Kirstin Kreuk plays Snow White rather stiffly - though she is a perfect casting choice in terms of physical appearance. However, in Kreuk's defence it is one the most difficult things in the world to play virtuous, perfect heroines, simply because they appear rather boring on the screen (especially when surrounded by more fascinating villains). The dwarfs are a little silly (their connection with rainbows makes them look like extras on "Barney the Dinosaur") but most will be amused to recognise Warwick Davis ("Willow").
In keeping in line with the Grimm's story, the movie does include the sash that squeezes the breath out of Snow White as well as the famous apple, but unfortunately not the poisoned comb. Other interesting directions are taken by the movie-makers: instead of an old hag, Elspeth approaches Snow White as her dead mother, and as well as the colours of the rainbow, the dwarfs are named after the days of the week (and include a normal-sized Wednesday). The Prince is given a bit more of a back-story than simply entering at the end (he even gets a name!), but there are some loose ends not quite wrapped up and Elspeth's ultimate fate is a little silly.
Yet overall I enjoyed this movie, if not just for its gorgeous appearance which is made more amazing considering the very small budget for this movie. I watch it just to look at it: the elegant yet simple palace to the quiet, peaceful woodlands; the elaborate costumes, the colourful makeup, the subtle yet beautiful special effects, I could go on..."
Kristin Kreuk SHINES as "Snow White"
john nickolaus | Maplewood, Minnesota United States | 03/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's not your traditional version of the Grimm's famous story, but this effort by Hallmark Entertainment (distributed by Disney) certainly has it's merits! Caroline Thompson's script tells the traditional story of the princess with "skin as white as snow" and the jealous stepmother who wishes her stepdaughter dead. But Thompson decides to elaborate the story with several touches of her own. For instance, Snow White's father, John (played by Tom Irwin), releases a "jinn" or "genie" type creature (Clancy Brown) from a frozen prison in the ice. To show his thanks, the creature grants John three wishes: 1) milk for his infant daughter, 2) a kingdom, and 3) a queen. But the candidate chosen to sit at King John's side, is none other than the creature's hideous sister, Elsbeth (Miranda Richardsn). As an "act of kindness" to his sister, he transforms her blemished skin to worldly beauty. But King John's heart still lies with his dead wife, Josephine (Vera Farmiga). So, Elspeth's first spell of manipulation is cast.Another added plot twist borrows from another Grimm's story, "Snow White and Rose Red". Queen Elsbeth lets her raging hormones get the best of her when Prince Alfred (Tyron Leitso) spurns her lusty advances. For revenge, Elsbeth turns the prince into a bear, who then seeks out Snow White to help break the spell.In a psychological twist, Esbeth disguises herself as Josephine, Snow White's mother, when she delivers the poisoned apple. Quite clever.Hallmark Entertainment regular Miranda Richardson is perfectly cast as the woman who's sole existence rides on being "fairest in the land". In her usual brilliant way, Richardson's performance is deranged yet humorous all at once.Kristin Kreuk (WB's "Smallville") as "Snow White" gives a deeper performance than one would expect. Rather than turning the princess into a sugary sweet victim, Kreuk brings out the human qualities of a teenager who longs to be seen as more than the beauty she is. Because of Elsbeth's spell on him, her father ignores her. Her stepmother hates her. The visiting prince swoons over her. The poor girl simply wants to be loved and known for the person behind the beautiful face. Kreuk was the perfect choice.The seven dwarfs are creatively reworked as the creatures that control the weather. They travel around the countryside as a rainbow, with each of them playing a different color. Named for the days of the week, each dwarf's personality comes from the old nursery rhyme' "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace.....". Warwick Davis, of Ewok fame, plays "Saturday". Davis is no stranger the Snow White story, having performed in and directed many pantomime productions in his homeland of England. In another creative twist, Vincent Schiavelli plays "Wednesday"....the only "dwarf" over 4.5 feet tall! Michael J. Anderson (Twin Peaks) plays "Sunday" the kind-hearted sympathetic leader of the "magnificent seven".As in anything she is in, Vera Farmiga is wonderful. She is under used sadly, as Josephine is buried for most of the film. Thankfully she is brought back for the famous apple sequence.If you are expecting a live action version of the Disney 1937 classic, you will be greatly disappointed. The film rides on it's own merit and will hopefully become another family classic. Thanks Hallmark!"
Check out this Snow White for Kruek, but enjoy Richardson
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Snow White: The Fairest of Them All" is one of those retellings of a classic fairy tale that is probably going to impress adults more than the kiddies, although you will find some problematic elements in this 2002 television movie. This version is closer to the original tale told by Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and his brother Wilhelm Carl Grimm, but Caroline Thompson and Julie Hickson's teleplay comes up with some inventive elements, most of which work. But much as I like the veteran character actor Vincent Schiavelli, a six-foot-five-inch dwarf is a bit of a reach for me.Anyhow, once upon a time, John (Tom Irwin) and Josephine (Vera Farmiga) were living happily together in the forest when they had a beautiful baby girl then named Snow White. However, Josephine dies soon after leaving John alone to fend for his baby. John buries his wife and starts on a journey to find food; at his darkest moment he is about to give up when he happens to awaken a genie known as the Green Eyed One (Clancy Brown), who will grant three wishes aa a reward for his release. John's first wish is for milk for Snow White. His second wish is to have his wife back, but this is beyond the Green Eyed One's power. Instead, he will provide John with a new queen and a kingdom to go with it. However, what John does not know is that his new queen, Elpseth (Miranda Richardson) is really his own hag of a sister (the crone is played by Karin Konoval), transformed into a beauty. Snow White crows up to be played by Kristin Kreuk (a.k.a. Lana Lang on "Smallville") and when the spell starts to fade and Elpseth's beauty begins to fade, the story takes a dark turn. "Snow White: The Fairest of Them All" is a much darker version of the story than the beloved Disney classic, so by no stretch of the imagination is this the first version of Snow White you would want any child to see. This is a dark version of the tale that takes place in a much more dangerous world, although the entirely reworked dwarf part of the plot (they are now named for the seven days of the week) usually works against the rest of the story. The sets are beautiful, as are the costumes, and what passes for the magic mirror this time around is pretty spectacular. A lot of people will check out the DVD version because of Kreuk, who is the WB's new Katie Holmes. I admit I am one of those people, but even I found it rather odd that her cast bio on the DVD features her Neutrogena commercial. Anyhow, Kreuk has little to do but sit there and look pretty throughout the movie (she shows a lot more emotion and flair in the commercial). The one who steals the show is Richardson, which is exactly what you would expect when an actress of that caliber gets a choice role like a wicked queen in a fairy tale. If there was any doubt about whether this version of Snow White is worth checking out, then it is Richardson who tips the scale in that direction. "Snow White: The Fairest of Them All" is certainly worth a look for those who are interested in new takes (or, in this case, extremely old takes) on classic fairy tales."
Amazon needs a zero stars rating just for this film
Homeschooling Single Mom | 01/05/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Where to begin with what was wrong with this film. Could it be the doughy, forgettable Prince Charming? The unfunny anachronistic dwarves? (And one of them is 6' tall, which is a joke I still don't get) The screechy, mugfest of a performance by the usually astounding Miranda Richardson? The expressionless, bland and inscrutable Snow White? Yes, let's start there. Kristin Kreuk is a pretty girl, but it's evident that's the height of her "talent". See her on the cover up there? That's when Kristin is best-- when she's in front of a camera that doesn't record sound or motion. Otherwise we get her lispy monotone, her wide, inexpressively bright eyes, her lack of body language... and in this film, it's all under about ten pounds of cakey looking white makeup. Why hire an ethnic actress for the part of Snow White if all you're going to do is put her in whiteface? What on earth was the point of that? But that's the least of Kreuk's worries. Her acting on Smallville has never been noteworthy, but in this, she's downright offensive. I actually found myself laughing out loud when, during a scene in which the Evil Queen's henchman is poised above her with a dagger raised to kill her, she looks up, face blank, and intones without a hint of inflection, "Why?" Yeah, that's what *I'd* do too, hon. Maybe that's why Richardson's performance seems so overdone by comparison. Next to Snow White and her equally bumbling, tedious father, anyone would appear to be "over"acting.Unless you're a 15 year old boy with a massive crush on the lead actress who doesn't mind watching 2 solid hours of mindlessness as long as she's in a few scenes, please spare yourself the torture of this horrible movie. Hallmark should be ashamed of itself."