Critic Consensus: Smartly written and beautiful to behold, Blancanieves uses its classic source material to offer a dark tale, delightfully told.
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as Don Martin
as Antonio Villalta
as Carmen de Triana
as Dona Concha
as Don Carlos
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Critic Reviews for Blancanieves
What Berger does with the actors, the sight gags, the close-ups, the music, the photography is close to perfection.
This year's crowded field of Snow White movies has a winner, at least in terms of quality, in Pablo Berger's delightful Blancanieves.
While the story, shorn of its supernatural elements, is mired in abuse and tragedy, its effect is sensual and superficial.
We're not in Disney's world. Berger knows his Grimm, and he suffuses his entrancing fairy tale with a moving sense of melancholy.
From Spain, here's a miracle of fairy tale repurposing: a version of the Brothers Grimm's "Snow White," set in Spanish bullfighting country in the late 1920s. Writer-director Pablo Berger's Blancanieves goes all the way with its concept, and then further.
Audience Reviews for Blancanieves
An interesting take on the old Snow White legend with beautiful production and costume design.
A matador's daughter is oppressed by her evil stepmother until she escapes and winds up traveling with a troupe of bullfighting dwarfs. Unexpected twists on the ancient legend, bits of macabre humor, and magnificent music and camerawork announce this silent, 20s-styled refashioning of Snow White as a modern masterpiece.
Antonio Villalta (Cacho) is Spain's most acclaimed bullfighter until the day he is gored and forced to retire. When his wife dies in childbirth, he rejects their newborn child, Carmen, who is sent to live with her grandmother. Antonio marries his nurse, Encarna (Verdu), who takes in Carmen following her grandmother's death. She treats the child terribly, forcing her to work hard all day and sleep in a dank room at night. Carmen is forbidden by Encarna to go to the first floor of the mansion but one day she chases after her pet chicken and discovers her father, confined to a chair in an upstairs room. He reconnects with his abandoned daughter, teaching her about bullfighting, but when Encarna learns of this she puts some dark plans in motion. While 'The Artist' homaged the silent era but never really felt like a product of that time, Berger's 'Blancanieves' is much more authentic. 'The Artist's claims to being a "silent" where somewhat false, given the amount of dialogue displayed on title cards and the use of sound effects. Here, title cards are kept to a bare minimum as Berger is so adept at visual storytelling he simply doesn't need them. The only sound present is courtesy of Alfonso de Vilallonga's fantastic flamenco-infused score. The key to a successful silent film is to keep the plot as simple as possible. By reworking a fable known to anyone raised as a child in the western world, Berger is allowed forego narrative details and focus on creating atmosphere, which his film has in spades. Verdu as the wicked step-mother Encarna is one of recent cinema's greatest villains, going so far as to feed young Carmen her pet chicken in one of the film's darker moments. In today's politically correct age of molly-coddling, it's easy to forget just how dark children's fairy tales are, especially those of the Grimm brothers. Like the early epics of Disney, 'Blancanieves' combines this darkness with a level of charm absent from most contemporary children's films, and though it features an attempted rape and some animal cruelty, this is essentially a children's film. It certainly took this reviewer back to a childhood spent on a living room floor falling in love with the black and white horror movies shown on TV every afternoon back in the eighties. At my screening, there were audible groans when critics realized they were in for a silent film. Sadly, in this word-obsessed age where eye contact has been replaced by text messages, 'Blancanieves' will struggle to find an audience. It's a film that requires you to keep your eyes on the screen at all times, anathema to the idiot-phone generation. Their loss is the cineastes' gain.
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