Snow White and the Huntsman

This weekend I watched, and thoroughly enjoyed, the new movie "Snow White and the Huntsman."  One of the better fantasy films to come out in recent years, it was at times reminiscent of "The Chronicles of Narnia" films and the 80's fantasy classic "Excalibur," or even "The Princess Bride."  This review does contain some vague spoilers.

Fantasy fans will not doubt like this film: If you enjoy watching a cavalry charge of knights in shinning armor, their colorful banners snapping in the wind; or a castle seige that hangs upon the heroism of some stout little dwarves; or sweeping vistas of a mystic land (filmed in the UK), or fantasy characters trying to fight off a surprise attack from a giant troll (with an interesting take on an old tale), then you will probably enjoy this movie.  The "Mirror on the wall" scenes are pretty eerie but imaginative as well.

On a spiritual level, there were certainly some notable elements in this film: there were at least some suggestions that Snow White and her family are Christians such as the numerous bishops present for her father's wedding scene and Snow White herself whispering The Lord's Prayer before she escapes from prison.  In fact, you might argue that the film at least implies that her "spirituality" is one reason for her purity and ability to overcome the evil queen.  Plus there is a "power in the blood" theme running through the movie as well with Snow White as a Christ figure (she even dies and returns to life, though this in and of itself doesn't seem to accomplish too much).

The film also, much like Lewis's work, portrays and invites us to that almost inarticulate desire for the Presence of the Creator and for the New Creation he brings, in one scene in particular.  Within the green "sanctuary forest" that has avoided the general decay of nature that is seen everywhere else in the realm, there is a notable stirring among the many animals as beams of light fall down on a place - a giant "tree of life," actually, where Snow White receives a blessing from one whom the dwarves quite excitedly refer to simply as "Him."  With the forest was coming to life around them, one of the dwarves smiles and said, "Yes, it's Him!"  I quite expected to see Aslan the Lion walk from behind a rock, but this good power (whatever he is) manifests Himself as a huge White Hart or Stag.  The Hart later bursts into a swarm of white butterflies when this moment of almost palpable holiness and blessing is disturbed by the forces of evil.

There is plenty of material in this film to explore about the meaning of love or of beauty, and selfishness versus compassion.  In fact Snow White's compassion and purity actually overcomes a monster and save the heros in one scene, when she looks deep into its eyes and some of her compassion "rubs off on it," so that it decides to back down from the fight.  She has a contageous spirit of goodness about her in the film.  Snow White even seems to feel genuine sorrow for her nemesis as well - I half expected her to offer words of forgiveness to the evil queen in the end.  So this was certainly not the blustering rage of so many American "revenge flicks", where the only way to overcome monsters is to kill them, or the final moments of your nemesis' defeat are best spent saying things like "That's for my family!" (which Snow White indeed could have said), not shedding a tear of pity for your enemy.  Christianity Today's review is here.

Like the fantasy classic Excalibur (based on the Arthurian legend), and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, this film ties the prosperity of the realm - even nature itself within the realm - to the health, strength, and righteousness of the sovereign.  It is one more pop-cultural expression of a collective yearning that, I believe, is ultimately for the healing Reign of Christ over all things.  We somehow know in our bones that when the right king is in charge, things will be made right (and it is immediately evident that our democratically elected politicians do not fit the bill).  Thus we are overjoyed to see Aragorn finally crowned at the conclusion of "The Return of the King," and so it is also with Snow White's coronation in this movie. 

All-in-all, I do expect to watch this one again.  It has some action, violence, scary images and some black magic that is gross (involving bloody animal insides and whatnot), so concerned parents should take seriously the PG-13 rating.  The costumes, visuals, and music are all excellent.

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