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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)

Last night, I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman. Apart from all of the obvious criticisms that many others have already made (for example, the eery similarity of many scenes to other epic/magical films), one of the issues that stood out most for me was the silencing of Snow White. When the previews for this film emerged months ago, I found it curious that the title character was not shown speaking. Having now seen the film, I understand why, she just didn’t have that many lines. In a film which centers around the relationship between two female characters, Queen Ravenna and her step-daughter Snow White, I would expect that women would be doing most of the talking. While the film’s writers (Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini) seem to have been able to write speaking parts for the Queen in the first half of the film while she is evil and powerful, the second half of the film where she deteriorates into a weaker, more vulnerable position generally involves her speechlessly starring into mirrors. The portrayal of Snow White as virtuous seems to have been an even harder task to achieve through speech. She spends the majority of the film silently starring gape-mouthed at things or into the distance or into the camera. She really doesn’t say much. For the most part, men do the talking in this film about two women. It seems very odd to me that the creators of this film opted for the female characters to remain largely seen and not heard. Indeed, many of the characters’ more complex characteristics—the Queen’s fear of aging and death, Snow White’s virtuosity and caring—were portrayed not through words and actions, but through their speechless faces. Did the writers have difficulty writing for women? For me, this film about women which ended up really being about men offers a good example of why behind the scenes positions like writing need to be more diverse. It had lots of beautiful scenes and fantastic special effects, but it missed the mark in most other respects.

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