Blancanieves (2012)




Pablo Berger


Spain, France


Macarena Garcia, Maribel Verdú, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Angela Molina, Inma Cuesta, Sofia Oria, Josep Maria Pou, Ramon Barea, Pere Ponce, Emilio Gavira


After her grandmother (Angela Molina) dies, young Carmen (Sofia Oria) goes to live with her former bullfighter and now paraplegic father (Daniel Giménez Cacho) and her evil stepmother Encarna (Maribel Verdú). Years later, when Carmen (Macarena Garcia) is a beautiful young woman, Encarna plot to kill her, but her plan fails when she is rescued by a band of travelling bullfighting dwarfs that sees Carmen's natural skills as a bullfighter and helps her to become one.


I've seen several Snow White-inspired films in the past few years and they all had one thing in common, they were terrible movies. Now, I've been fascinated by this fairy tale since I was a kid and watching such terrible movies was quite hard to digest. Then, a couple of months ago, I discovered the existence of Blancanieves, this Spanish movie that almost made it to the Best Foreign Language Oscar short-list. A black-and-white silent version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale set in 1920s Spain where Snow White/Blancanieves is a bullfighter. I just couldn't say no. And I'm glad I did so because Blancanieves is one of the best adaptations of the fairy tale I've seen.

And it's exactly that different setting that makes the film work so well. In fact, when making a film with such a classic and well-known story there's always the risk to make an uninteresting film, which Pablo Berger avoids by telling it in a refreshing and unexpected way that will have you constantly waiting for famous plot points only to see what's his take on them. And being it told so differently, although we already know how the story is going to end, it's more than a pleasure to follow Carmen's journey.

That, however, isn't the film's greatest strength which would arguably be the visuals. Blancanieves has a tremendous black and white photography, a use of dissolves that beautifully brings together the past and present and a masterful use of lights and shadows. To that, add the 1.33:1 aspect ratio that gives the movie an even more authentic silent movie feeling.

And have I mentioned the score? It is moving and emotive and it beautifully blends into the story. Not to mention that it makes you feel like you're inside the movie.

At last but not least there's the cast, a talented cast to be precise. In addition to a magnificent leading cast - Macarena Garcia, Maribel Verdú and Daniel Giménez Cacho respectively as grown-up Carmen/Blancanieves, the stepmother and the father -, the film also features a strong supporting cast.

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