Okay, it's not seven - at least not yet. But there are currently three (3) movie adaptations of the classic fairytale Disney made famous on their way to us right now. Seriously, Hollywood, you couldn't spread that out a bit?
• Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Twilight's eternally-pouting Kristen Stewart as the one so fair. In this version, the Huntsman who takes pity on her (Viggo Mortensen) ends up chained to her for part of her (their?) escape. If Viggo has to kiss the SparkleBait, I may weep. Not that I hold Twilight against its stars, but I have yet to see evidence that Stewart can act. And with Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen, this would otherwise be a neat idea.
• The Brothers Grimm: Snow White pits a rebellious Snow banding with the dwarfs to overturn the Wicked Queen who killed her father and destroyed the kingdom. Tarsem Singh directs with Julia Roberts as the Wicked Queen, a thought that fills me with glee, though it looks like they're branding it as a dark comedy, which lessens my fun.
• Not content to let anyone steal the poisoned apple away, Disney is planning a live-action version set in China and starring Natalie Portman as the lovely princess. Wait, what? Snow and the Seven, directed by the guy who wrote Toy Story 3 and the production designer of Memoirs of a Geisha and the Pirates movies. A 19th-century English girl returns to her Hong Kong home upon her father's death and faces the plots of her evil stepmother. Instead of dwarfs, we have seven "international warriors." Bonus: directed by Francis Lawrence of I Am Legend, so we can expect two-thirds of a fantastic movie and a finale of what the hell was that??
It's not that I mind Hollywood mining the ancient tales for material - heaven knows it beats yet another CGI talking-animal flick or a lame attempt to bring a dead TV show back as a comedy. Every once in a while they manage to make the old new again - witness Drew Barrymore's Ever After, which set the Cinderella story on its side with a delicious yet believable Wicked Stepmother in Anjelica Huston.
But lately, it seems all we get out of the fairytales are more Twilight knockoffs. Witness Red Riding Hood, directed by Twilight's Catherine Hardwicke and recasting Red as a young woman in a medieval village torn between two lovers, one of which is a werewolf. Even Julie Christie and Gary Oldman can't save that from being the utter rip-off it seems to be.
And that would be a shame, because setting aside the high-pitched soprano of Adriana Caselotti and undeniable 1930s sexism of the First Princess movie, Snow White is a pretty awesome tale.
Go with me here.
Snow White is an emotionally abused, neglected child who still manages to hold together her sanity and good nature despite being robbed of her birthright and, apparently, any love or attention from her spineless father and cruel stepmother. She escapes a murder-for-hire and goes into hiding, building allies who help her escape the repeated attempts on her life. She's not nearly as dumb in the fairytale as in the animated movie - after narrowly escaping the staylaces and the poisoned comb, she won't take the apple until the disguised Queen cuts it in half and eats the safe part in front of her. So much for the "wishing apple."
Sure, it takes a prince to rescue her from the third attempt - by accident, as he thinks she's dead just as the dwarfs do. But in the fairytale, she faces off the Wicked Queen on her own at her wedding, and wins. In a particularly grotesque fashion, as only the Grimm Brothers can do.
The Queen herself is one of the most awesome villains - even though her motivation is an annoying beauty complex (just get some Botox, lady), she's relentlessly evil in a way few villains can match. I am reminded of the Disney movie in which she transforms herself, then passes through a dungeon in which a skeleton lies reaching for a long-empty pitcher.
"Thirsty?" cackles the queen, and kicks the pitcher into the bones, scattering them as a spider runs out. "Have a drink!"
Man. That's hardcore horror right there, and in a 1937 children's movie. Awesome stuff.
Snow White. Jealousy. Palace intrigue. Assassination plots. The power of grief - both for the unseen king and the prince. Class struggle. Attempted murder. Lovers separated by fate and even death. Magic and adventure and gruesome comeuppance. Not a bad way to spend an evening, eh?
Alas, all we're likely to hear as these movies go forward is "Someday my prince will come..." and a lot of teen-drama angst. I look forward to seeing Roberts and Theron take on the Wicked Queen, and hope that someone hired an awesome screenwriter for at least one of these. We deserve some dark fantasy that isn't someone's wish-fulfillment bad-boy complex tossed up like a teen girl's fantasy, but an adventure into the darkness of the human heart that reflects the awesome power of the original Grimm tales.
I'd take a bite of that apple.