Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?
The answer, much to the Evil Queen’s dismay, is of course Snow White. It’s always Snow White.
But which one?
This year sees the release of two films based on the original brothers Grimm fairytale. In the red corner we have ‘Mirror, Mirror’ starring Julia Roberts, Sean Bean and Lily Collins (daughter of musician Phil) as Snow White. In the blue corner we have ‘Snow Whiteand the Huntsman’ with Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth and that vampire loving emotionless robot Kristen Stewart as Snow White. But which one is better? There’s only one way to find out. Fight! The first rule of fairytale fight club is we do not talk about fairytale fight club. Especially not the mud wrestling part. Both films despite following the same basic plot (Evil stepmother, dark forest, poisoned apple, dwarves) do appear to be coming at the source material from wildly different directions.
‘Mirror, Mirror’ from the trailer looks vibrant, playful, fun with weird Bollywood style dance numbers, childish humour, Lily Collins monstrous eyebrows and Julia Roberts chewing the admittedly very pretty scenery. Weirdly there is no sign of Sean Bean which hopefully means he turns up at the end with a pint of Guinness in one hand and a massive sword in the other and puts an end to all the silly nonsense while loudly proclaiming “I’M SEAN BEAN”.
‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ on the other hand looks surprisingly adult and gritty with big battles reminiscent of the opening scene of ‘Gladiator’, ominous dark forests and what sounds like Charlize Theron having an orgasm. Sensibly the trailer has very little Kristen Stewart which hopefully means she is brutally slain in the first scene by Sean Bean despite the fact he isn’t even in the film. It doesn’t make a difference to Sean Bean. He’s “SEAN BEAN”.
The most important question though is why are there two Snow White films coming out this year?
The answer is one of those strange quirks of filmmaking that happens every few years where two films with a similar subject matter are made at exactly the same time for no discernible reason.
The best example of this would be the two meteor films of 1998. The thoughtful but dull ‘Deep Impact’ and the entertaining but silly ‘Armageddon’. Both of these films came out within months of each other. ‘Deep Impact’ beat ‘Armageddon’ in terms of release but ‘Armageddon’
won the box office booty. 1998 also saw the World War Two films ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘The Thin Red Line’ duke it out at the box office. Saving Private Ryan’ was the more commercial film and won but ‘The Thin Red Line’ is a more philosophical deeper work that lingers in the memory longer.
Other notable examples of films with a similar subject matter are the volcano films ‘Dante’s Peak’ and the less imaginatively titled ‘Volcano’ from 1997 and the two Truman Capote films ‘Capote’ and ‘Infamous’ from 2005/2006.
The reason that there were two meteor and two volcano films at the same time was the success of ‘Independence Day’ which brought the disaster movie, with its scenes of wanton destruction and pioneering special effects, back into the mainstream. Ultimately the studios got on the bandwagon by starting small (volcanoes) and then upping the ante (meteors). Effectively a lack of creativity meant that these films were developed at the same time. The Truman Capote films however are trickier, the likeliest explanation is that the scripts had been a work in progress for a while and both were green lit at the same time through nothing more than serendipity.
But back to the question of Snow White, why is she the fairest of them all back in vogue?
Well, living in the troubled times that we do, maybe there is something reassuring in the message of everyone living happily ever after. The current superhero fad which will probably peak this summer with ‘The Avengers’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ will leave a slot open for larger than life heroes in fantastical environments and it looks like fairytale characters may fill the void.
Snow White is easily one of the most iconic fairytale characters, something that Disney realised when ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ became their first full length animated feature. This cycle looks to be starting again but now in live action and with proper actors (and Kristen Stewart). Upcoming films about fairytales are the Jack and the Beanstalk inspired ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ with Ewan McGregor, ‘Hansel and Gretel : Witch Hunters’, the Sleeping Beauty inspired ‘Maleficent’ with Angelina Jolie and two Beauty and the Beast films, one of which may be directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Emma Watson.
Fairytales have also trickled into television with two of the biggest hits in the States being ‘Once Upon A Time’ and ‘Grimm’. You could arguably say that ‘Game of Thrones’ has a slight fairytale vibe through it amongst the sex and violence. Plus Sean Bean is in it.
He made me say it. He’s “SEAN BEAN”!
5 Fairy Tales starring Sean Bean
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Sean Bean playing Goldilocks shows up at the bears’ house, he eats their breakfast and sleeps in their beds. The bears are too afraid to say anything. He stays for a month.
Red Riding Hood
Sean Bean plays the wolf and instead of trying to eat Red Riding Hood he instead takes her out for a drink. He is ultimately dumped for two timing with Red’s grandmother. He doesn’t care.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Sean Bean plays Jack who mostly just stands at the bottom of the beanstalk shouting to the giant “Come on you bastard, I’ll ‘ave ya!”. He would as well.
Sean is Prince Charming (obviously) who decides to let her sleep so he can go to the football and get pissed. He’ll see to her after. Although he’s not the kissing type.
Beauty and the Beast
He plays both parts. He’s very versatile.