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Blancanieves (Region B)
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Spain released, Blu-Ray/Region A/B/C DVD: LANGUAGES: Spanish ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), Spanish ( DTS-HD Master Audio ), English ( Subtitles ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Black & White, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Blancanieves deftly blends cinematic antiquarianism, period atmosphere and primal emotions. Set in Spain in the 1920s, it replaces the spooky northern European romanticism of the Brothers Grimm with a swooning, tragic sensibility native to (or perhaps stereotypically associated with) the Iberian Peninsula. The Snow White character, named Carmen, is the daughter of a bullfighter (Daniel Giménez Cacho) and a flamenco dancer (Inma Cuesta), and her story hums with jealousy, vanity and other volatile passions. Many of these pulsate in the heart of Carmen's stepmother, Encarna (Maribel Verdú, seen in 'Pan's Labyrinth' and 'Y Tu Mamá También'), a delectably wicked villain who is transformed before our eyes from a lovestruck nurse to a perverse and murderous gold digger, as cruel to her husband as she is to his daughter. Encarna marries the girl's father after he is paralyzed by a bull named Lucifer. (His wife has died in childbirth after witnessing the injury.) Carmen, played as a wide-eyed, soft-featured child by Sofia Oria, is comforted by the companionship of her father, her grandmother (Ángela Molina) and a mischievous rooster named Pepe, this film's answer to the scrappy terrier that was everyone's favorite part of 'The Artist.' There are dwarfs too, who befriend Carmen after she has grown into a lovely and spirited young woman (played by Macarena García). Also a poisoned apple, though no magic mirror and, strictly speaking, no handsome prince. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain, Goya Awards, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, ...Snow White (2012) ( Blancanieves ) ( Blancaneu ) (Blu-Ray)
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Fifty-year-old NYU film grad Pablo Berger chose a familiar story: the Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” This adaptation came on the heels of Hollywood’s pedestrian Snow White And The Huntsman (which predictably made a gazillion dollars) but represents a much darker, idiosyncratic telling of the tale. Berger grasps an important aesthetic of silent film: its sense of otherworldliness. Berger clearly relishes a hallucinatory texture akin to such silent artists such as Tod Browning or Erich Von Stroheim. He transplants the story, brimming with humor and tragically latent left-field sexuality, into and around the arena of Spanish bullfights.
The famous toreador Antonio Villalta (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) dispenses of a quintet of bulls, only to be gored by the sixth (the bulls were actually killed, which sparked boycotts by animal rights advocates). Villalta’s pregnant wife Carmen de Triana (Inma Cuesta) witnesses his maiming, which renders him a quadriplegic. This sends Carmen into premature labor, which proves fatal after delivering her namesake. Villalta’s anesthesiologist, Encarna (Maribel Verdú) sees opportunity and maneuvers to marry the tragedy-stricken celebrity, which puts his infant daughter under the care of her grandmother.
As young Carmen grows, she is never allowed to visit her father. After her grandmother’s death, Carmen is transferred to her father’s estate and sadistic stepmother Encarna. Chopping off Carmen’s hair, butchering her pet rooster, and separating a daughter from her imprisoned, suffering invalid father are the tenets of this quintessentially evil fairy tale mommie dearest.
Reconciliation between father and daughter is managed, albeit briefly, but long enough to tap Carmen’s genetic talents. After her father’s death, Carmen barely escapes being a victim of filicide, and hauntingly evokes Mary Pickford as she merges into the grown daughter (played by Macarena Garcia) of both natural parents. Ecarna’s henchman one-ups her Disney counterpart by trying to rape Carmen before plunging the knife, which gets him gored by the feisty daughter of Villalta. Left for dead, Carmen is adopted by seven dwarf matadors.
A career in the ring follows, and, naturally, Carmen and the Los Enanitos Toreros develop a special bond. Blancanieves is equal parts pure joy and delirious darkness (with one of its most perverse scenes being staffers having their photographs taken with a celebrity corpse—shades of a finale to come). Such idiosyncrasy probably does not afford a happily-ever-after option. After learning that her believed-to-be-dead stepdaughter is the new matador taking Spain by storm, Encarna murders her henchman for having failed in his job, and proceeds to the arena with poisoned apple in hand. Blancanieves concludes on a perverse shocker, worthy of Luis Buñuel.
Like many silent film artists, Berger approaches the seedier elements with good aesthetic taste; the difference being that past artists were required to take such an approach due to period censorship, while Berger chooses to be indirect—and, consequently, gives the film a surprisingly modern vibe.
*my review originally appeared at 366 weird movies
There is great acting from all the cast including a first acting part for Sofía Oria in the role of the young Blancanieves. The director, Pablo Berger says he chose Sofía Oria and Macarena García, the two actresses in the role of Blancanieves on instinct - and it certainly seems to have paid off for him, as they both are excellent in their role. With great directing from Pablo Berger and music from Alfonso de Vilallonga together with the photography of Kiko de la Rica and the superb acting from the cast this is a truly great film.
The Extra Features on the DVD has a Trailer and a Making of Blancanieves. The Making of feature which runs for just under half an hour is informative and interesting.
The film has won numerous awards including ten Goya Awards. The Goya awards were: Best Film, Best Actress, Best New Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Make-up and Hairstyles, Best Original Score, Best Original Song.
With the collectors edition comes a set of post cards.
It's a 10-year labour of love by director Pablo Berger, who calls it a “love letter to European silent cinema”. If you enjoyed 'The Artist' you'll love 'Blancanieves' as a sophisticated European take on the silent movie experience. Those who are squeamish about bull-fighting needn't be worried: it's not a blood-thirsty film, and no bulls are slaughtered. Instead, expect an outstanding viewing experience, especially on a big Academy Ratio (4:3) screen with surround sound. You'll see terrific acting from relatively unknown actors, accompanied by a superb orchestral score cleverly cued to the on-screen action. The main feature film is accompanied by a fascinating 'Making of' featurette on the DVD.
This fantastical story line has all the melodrama and darkness of a grown-up fairy tale and is at times genuinely moving. It observes many of the conventions of a fairy tale with the put upon child and evil stepmother in a spacious villa that stands in for a castle, and uses them to illuminate the best and worst in human behaviour. Shot in and around Seville, the black and white cinematography is outstanding. It is made as a tribute to silent film, using the expressive faces of its excellent cast and a changing score of apt music for each scene to move the story along. There are cue cards in English for occasional dialogue.
...And they all lived happily ever after? It's well worth watching to find out.
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