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'Blancanieves' Review: 'Snow White,' Spanish Style

Thompson on Hollywood By Annette Insdorf | Thompson on Hollywood March 29, 2013 at 12:58PM

"Blancanieves" is Pablo Berger's magical Spanish transposition of the Snow White myth into the thrilling arena of bullfighting and flamenco. Opening Friday in New York at the Paris as well as the Angelika, this sumptuous black-and-white silent drama is cause not only for celebration, but for reflection on why "Snow White" is so adaptable now.
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Maribel Verdu in "Blancanieves"
Maribel Verdu in "Blancanieves"

"Blancanieves" is Pablo Berger's magical Spanish transposition of the Snow White myth into the thrilling arena of bullfighting and flamenco. Opening Friday in New York at the Paris as well as the Angelika, this sumptuous black-and-white silent drama is cause not only for celebration, but for reflection on why "Snow White" is so adaptable now. 

Given the 2012 release of "Mirror, Mirror" as well as "Snow White and the Huntsman," filmmakers are clearly drawn to a malleable myth of female heroism. Once upon a time, the ending was a romantic couple that would live happily ever after. Now, the abused, kind and brave Snow White becomes her own evolved self, whether as a warrior or a matador.

"Blancanieves" is the most thrilling of the adaptations, partly because of its evocative time and place -- 1920s Spain, where a matador is like a king. Paradoxically (and like "The Artist"), the film is both self-consciously stylized and emotionally charged, balancing formal dexterity with melodrama. Berger shifts the emphasis from the traditional romance of the fairy tale to the growing love between a widower and his daughter; and instead of a prince appearing, the imprisoned child becomes a matador herself.

Read the rest of this review here.

This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Blancanieves, Maribel Verdú, Trailers, Trailers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.