Cine Las Americas 16 Review: BLANCANIEVES

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

It is a fairy tale that has been told and retold countless times, but never like this. Opening the 16th Annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, writer/director Pablo Berger’s version of the Brothers Grimm tale, has a darker, more realistic take than other incarnations and is presented as an old school silent film, very much like The Artist.

In Berger’s adaptation, the story takes place in 1920’s Sevilla, Spain. A legendary magnificent bull fighter, Don Antonio Villalta (Daniel Gimenez Cacho), suffers a career-ending just prior to the birth of his daughter Carmencita (Sofia Oria).  In addition to having his career ended suddenly, Don Antonio loses the love of his life Carmen (Macarena Garcia) during childbirth.  To cope with his sorrow, Antonio soon marries his nurse Encarna (Maribel Verdu), a lady only interested in his riches. She proves to be an abusive wife/stepmother who eventually plots the deaths of both her husband and stepdaughter.

As Michel Hazanavicius worked wonders with his homage to classic cinema, so does Pablo Berger with his refreshing new take on the Snow White tale. Despite the lack of the usual supernatural and magical elements often associated with the story, Berger manages to deliver magic in the form of beautiful storytelling, character development and heartbreaking realism. Other versions of Snow White have been geared for children; however, this one, with its mature themes is more for grownups. The writing often displays characteristics of modern filmmaking, while the aesthetics of the movie itself embrace those of classic silent cinema.

It all feels experimental, but it is an experiment that pays off wonderfully. Blancanieves is not Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, nor is it anything like the recent versions of the tale. Refreshingly, Pablo Berger does an incredible job with his marriage of classic and modern filmmaking.

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