Dame Diana Rigg (TV's "The Avengers"), Billy Barty ("Willow") and Sarah Patterson ("The Company of Wolves") as Snow White star in this feature-length, live-action, musical version of the classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.
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Born from a drop of blood in a flutter of apple blossoms, and framed in ebony, a young girl named Snow White becomes the blessing of a loving peasant couple, John and Josephine. But with her birth comes a curse and the end of her mother's life. Left alone with an infant daughter, John braves a brutal winter in search of food for his starving angel. Salvation comes unexpectedly when the father's tears melt the frozen tomb of a bewitched creature, the Green-Eyed One. In thanks, the insinuating beast grants John three wishes: nourishment for Snow White, a kingdom in which to raise his family and a queen by his side. But John's cause for celebration is short-lived. For the Green-Eyed One has devious plans for the well-being of his own family. Owing his loathsome spellcasting daughter, Elspeth, a long-awaited wish, he encourages her desires for appointment to the throne. A kingdom to rule is hers for the waiting, the new King John is hers for the belittling and a luscious little ... Written by
John Nickolaus <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It's not your traditional version of the Grimm's famous story, but this effort by Hallmark Entertainment (distributed by Disney) certainly has it's merits!
Caroline Thompson's script tells the traditional story of the princess with "skin as white as snow" and the jealous stepmother who wishes her stepdaughter dead. But Thompson decides to elaborate the story with several touches of her own. For instance, Snow White's father, John (played by Tom Irwin), releases a "jinn" or "genie" type creature (Clancy Brown) from a frozen prison in the ice. To show his thanks, the creature grants John three wishes: 1) milk for his infant daughter, 2) a kingdom, and 3) a queen. But the candidate chosen to sit at King John's side, is none other than the creature's hideous sister, Elsbeth (Miranda Richardson). As an "act of kindness" to his sister, he transforms her blemished skin to worldly beauty. But King John's heart still lies with his dead wife, Josephine (Vera Farmiga). So, Elspeth's first spell of manipulation is cast.
Another added plot twist borrows from another Grimm's story, "Snow White and Rose Red". Queen Elsbeth lets her raging hormones get the best of her when Prince Alfred (Tyron Leitso) spurns her lusty advances. For revenge, Elsbeth turns the prince into a bear, who then seeks out Snow White to help break the spell.
In a psychological twist, Esbeth disguises herself as Josephine, Snow White's mother, when she delivers the poisoned apple. Quite clever.
Hallmark Entertainment regular Miranda Richardson is perfectly cast as the woman who's sole existence rides on being "fairest in the land". In her usual brilliant way, Richardson's performance is deranged yet humorous all at once.
Kristin Kreuk (WB's "Smallville") as "Snow White" gives a deeper performance than one would expect. Rather than turning the princess into a sugary sweet victim, Kreuk brings out the human qualities of a teenager who longs to be seen as more than the beauty she is. Because of Elsbeth's spell on him, her father ignores her. Her stepmother hates her. The visiting prince swoons over her. The poor girl simply wants to be loved and known for the person behind the beautiful face. Kreuk was the perfect choice.
The seven dwarfs are creatively reworked as the creatures that control the weather. They travel around the countryside as a rainbow, with each of them playing a different color. Named for the days of the week, each dwarf's personality comes from the old nursery rhyme' "Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace.....". Warwick Davis, of Ewok fame, plays "Saturday". Davis is no stranger the Snow White story, having performed in and directed many pantomime productions in his homeland of England. In another creative twist, Vincent Schiavelli plays "Wednesday"....the only "dwarf" over 4.5 feet tall! Michael J. Anderson (Twin Peaks) plays "Sunday" the kind-hearted sympathetic leader of the "magnificent seven".
As in anything she is in, Vera Farmiga is wonderful. She is under used sadly, as Josephine is buried for most of the film. Thankfully she is brought back for the famous apple sequence.
If you are expecting a live action version of the Disney 1937 classic, you will be greatly disappointed. The film rides on it's own merit and will hopefully become another family classic. Thanks Hallmark!
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