At the EbertFest film festival last weekend in Champaign, one of the highlights was Blancanieves -- a fascinating rethinking of the Grimm Brothers' Snow White. Before the screening, director Pablo Berger told the audience that films were like dreams to him, and nightmares, too. Berger, who worked on the film for eight years, re-interpreted the famous tale to take place in Spain during the 1920s. He focused on the parents of Snow White. The father is a famous bullfighter and the mother is a singer and flamenco dancer. Their daughter, Snow White, has a rather tragic childhood but emerges triumphant as a bullfighter herself traveling with 6 smaller people she encounters whie escaping her evil step-mother.
The film was shot in black and white and is silent as well, although the beautiful, moody, original score, by Alfonso de Vilallonga, contributes significantly to the story's success. During the Q and A afterward, Berger and the panelists discussed how contemporary black-and-white films can capitalize on contemporary audiences' ability to quickly comprehend visual cues and quick editing techniques. Consequently, Berger puts so much to be 'read' visually on screen that the absence of hearing dialogue does distract in Blancanieves.
I was so impressed with the film that I quickly wrote to ask Marvels & Tales if I could review it for the fairy tale journal and just learned that that's going to be possible. So I'll post more on that later.