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A band of bullfighting dwarfs save the life of a young woman with amnesia. They end up taking her under their wing when they find out that she has seemingly natural skills as a bullfighter, upon which they can capitalize not only for their act but for her own personal gain. As she does not know her name or background, the dwarfs coin her Blancanieves, after the famed fairy tale. What they are all unaware of is that she is really Carmen, the daughter of the once great matador, Antonio Villalta. On the day Carmen was born, her father suffered a career ending accident, and her mother died in childbirth. Her father quickly remarried his nurse, the evil Encarna. Although raised by her grandmother during her early years, Carmen, following the death of her grandmother, went to live with Encarna while an adolescent, Encarna who treated her as a slave. Carmen eventually found her disabled father, who was hidden away and treated poorly by Encarna. In the meantime, Encarna was cavorting with the...Written by
A silent movie, filmed in black & white, which moves the familiar Snow White fairytale to a bullfighter arena in Seville and spices it with some morbid and melodramatic themes. I admit, it sounds weird. But in fact, it's wonderful. Blancanieves is a great cinematographic accomplishment. Anyone who loves film, should go and see it.
Many silent movies are still a joy to watch, even though they are made almost a hundred years ago. That's because they put so much more emphasis on the visual aspect of the movie. It's about what you see on the screen, not about what the actors say.
Director Pablo Berger has understood this perfectly. Blancanieves is a visual feast from beginning to end. The scenes are filmed in high-contrast black & white, often with deep focus. Everything looks extremely stylish, from the wardrobes to the interiors. Sometimes the images could have come right out of a fashion magazine.
Moreover, the actors know that they have to act differently and use much more expression. Maribel Verdu is a joy to watch as Blancanieves's evil stepmother. Her facial expressions are worth more than a hundred lines of dialogue. Watch for the chicken-eating scene!
In silent movies, the soundtrack is of course extremely important. Blancanieves doesn't disappoint. From the no holds barred, full-scale orchestral pieces during the most melodramatic scenes, to traditional Spanish flamenco music, it all accompanies the images on screen perfectly. Sometimes the soundtrack turns into source music, for example when we see the orchestra playing during the bullfight, or when Blancanieves puts on a record.
it's hard to review this film without mentioning 'The Artist', the Oscar-winning silent movie from last year. Inevitably, Blancanieves stands in the shadow of this successful film. That's bad luck for director Berger, who has started this project long before anyone had even heard of The Artist. Perhaps, if The Artist wouldn't have had as much success as it did, Blancanieves would have attracted more attention. The Artist was a multiple Oscar-winner, Blancanieves didn't even get nominated, although it was the Spanish selection for the foreign language category. That does seem out of proportion, because both films are really great. Blancanieves is old-fashioned film making at its very best.
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