On Beauty and Evil Queens: Snow White and the Huntsman

After seeing the movie last night, I feel inspired to write a short post just sharing what I got out of the movie.

The Grimm Brothers, who originally wrote this tale, aren’t as grim as their name suggests. This tale, Snow White, or ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, has a message that’s quite profound, and quite relevant for the 21st generation.

Real beauty, a beauty that grows with time and as unshakable as can be, is not fleeting. It is fixed, permanent; or as permanent as life can be, because it is deeply interwoven into one’s character, and to put it simply – that’s where it’s at.

Have you ever had this – uncanny but familiar – experience?

You see a beautiful woman. Maybe she’s a supermodel, maybe she’s walking across the room, maybe she’s chatting to your friend.

Enchanted, bewitched, charmed like a snake: there’s something about her beauty which pulls you in.

You can’t look away. You’re mesmerized by her face, dewy skin, white teeth – and potentially – gorgeous handbag. Is that Mimco? (Ladies, you hear me!)

Then you meet her, and she talks, and what she has to say is mean.

Or you hear her swearing at the bar attendant, being rude to a waiter, dissing other people, being more than arrogant: being cruel. And/or being blatantly, disgustingly even, vain. She more than loves herself, she worships herself and believes others should pay homage to her by submitting, cowering, being belittled, manipulated, used, etc.

How attractive is she now? Has she suddenly – uncannily! – become less beautiful, or perhaps even ugly?

Such is life and such is this truth – this timeless message which the Grimm Brothers knew and we know today – communicated in Snow White. In both the narrative and the character of Snow, the girl who nurses injured birds back to health, dances with dwarves, says the Lord’s prayer even when trapped in the North Tower and – as she tries to save her friends from a fire – puts others above herself.

Germaine Greer may vehemently disagree with me on this but perhaps the essence of beauty is is goodness. Kindness.

Yet, Snow White is no pushover.

In the movie, she demonstrates strength and courage: she’s happy to run into an enchanted forest if it means escaping her morbid nemesis. Probably a standard reaction after finding out on good authority that the queen has commissioned your “beating heart” to be presented before her.

Contrary to her name, Snow White isn’t afraid to get dirty, shrugging through sewage pipes en route her escape. Yet, it’s her kindness, her genuine nature and good intentions which convince the dwarfs she is a worthy queen.

At first Snow White can’t comprehend how to kill the Queen. Is it even possible? Then slowly and perfectly and fatefully, she works out the very thing which the Queen would NOT want her to know: what her destroyer lacks she possesses in abundance and that’s the very weapon she can fight her enemy with.

Spoilbreaker anxious readers, I’m morally obliged to tell you to stop reading now…

And now, back to the story. So inevitably, due to Snow White discovering her power and due to the natural course of justice which she – and pretty much everyone else around her – wants, she decides to wage war on the Evil Queen and steal her throne back. Hear that, right? Her throne. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we need to fight for things that are rightfully ours, anyway? *Not meant in a didactic way, simply a musing.*

Poor Snow White isn’t some usurper revolutionary trying to slam dunk a kingdom, she’s simply returning home and trying to kick the unwanted Queen Bee away. Shoo!!

Lucky for Snow White, the queen’s looks can’t kill … but you’d be forgiven for thinking they could!

Charlize Theron makes, what some say, is this year’s best villain. I’m no Oscars judge but whew, she’s frightening. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Granted.

But, in this case, it’s more like hell hath no fury like an evil queen/witch scorned (before, by a man, as the story goes) and highly self conscious of her fading looks.

Also, since the queen magically renews her youth by literally sapping the essence and youth out of young, pretty maidens, she doesn’t really have much “beauty” of her own to speak of. Little bit awkward.

Anyway, in the final show down between the witch (let’s call her what she really was) and Snow White, it seems like it’s doomed for Miss White.

The Queen (her day job) pulls out all the stops, including weird fluttering attacking ravens, which is much more terrifying than it sounds but Snow White simply plunges  her dagger into the queen’s heart. That’s all it took!

As the curse goes, only someone so fair could cause the Queen’s downfall. And as the queen splutters her last, we see a glimpse of what – or who – she really is: a scared old lady.

Really pathetic. How did it ever get to that stage, you wonder, as you see the mask of ‘beauty’ be ripped off and transparency – with all its wrinkles and grey hair – stare you back in the face.

Snow White is beautiful. And the Grimm Brothers, in their original fairytale, give us a message which is completely relevant for the 21st century: beauty is goodness. Beauty is kindness. Beauty is true. Perhaps anything else is just “attractiveness.”

Images from www.snowwhiteandthehuntsman.com. Check out that website to watch a trailer for this movie!

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