"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.