A canny retelling of the classic fairy tale that stresses the story's psychological aspects without making it unsuitable for small children, like the gothic SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR (1997). Poor but happy woodsman John (Tom Irvin) and his wife, Josephine (Vera Farmiga), live in a rose-covered cottage and eagerly anticipate the birth of their first child. But when the baby is born, Josephine lives only long enough to name her Snow White, leaving her husband overwhelmed with grief and desperate to find a way to feed the infant. He trudges through the snow and eventually collapses from exhaustion and despair, but his hopeless tears melt the frozen ground and free a mysterious being, the Grandfather of Wishes (Clancy Brown) who offers to grant his savior's fondest desires. John asks for milk for the baby and for the return of his wife... the lost queen of his heart. The Grandfather of Wishes can't raise the dead, but promises John a new queen and a kingdom to go with her. As the bewildered John settles into his new role as monarch, the Grandfather of Wishes is transforming his own ugly, embittered sister, a witch named Elspeth (Miranda Richardson), into a regal beauty. He then blinds John to her faults by lodging a sliver of magic mirror in his eye, while the rest of the looking glass becomes Elspeth's confirmation of her newfound and precious desirability. Sixteen years later, Snow White (Kristin Kruek) is a stunning princess, as good and kind as she is beautiful, while Elspeth is discontented and consumed with jealousy. Her simmering unhappiness comes to a boil when visiting Prince Alfred (Tyron Leitso) is smitten with Snow White. She orders Show White killed and turns the handsome prince into a bear when he rejects her advances. The soft-hearted servant charged with Snow White's murder lets her live, and she's taken in by a septet of magical little forest people named for the days of the week, one of whom (Michael J. Anderson) has spent the last 16 years in the royal garden, turned into a lawn ornament by one of Elspeth's spiteful spells. Directed and co-written Caroline Thompson, who also scripted remakes of such children's classic as THE SECRET GARDEN (1993) and BLACK BEAUTY (1994), this production balances a brightly colorful look and a sophisticated awareness of the fairy tale's darker underpinnings. Richardson is a compelling Elspeth, and the film carefully works through its themes of transformation and entrapment, as well as its recurring images of blood and roses, snow and apple blossoms and infinite reflections true and false.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: NR
- Review: A canny retelling of the classic fairy tale that stresses the story's psychological aspects without making it unsuitable for small children, like the gothic SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR (1997). Poor but happy woodsman John (Tom Irvin) and his wife, Josephi… (more)