This was Spain's 85th Academy Awards official submission to Best Foreign Language category, but it did not make the shortlist, but won the Special Jury Prize and an ex-aequo Best Actress "Silver Shell" Award for Macarena García at the 2012 San Sebastián International Film Festival and also won ten Goya Awards, including the Goya Award for Best Film at the 27th Goya Awards.
The long process of making this movie started when Pablo Berger saw a photograph of bullfighting dwarves in a book España Oculta by the photographer Cristina García Rodero, so bBy 2003, Berger had written Blancanieves and was working to raise funds for it soon after his film Torremolinos 73 was appearing at festivals. Raising money took eight years later, and while he was working on the storyboards and about to begin principal photography in May 2011, he was devastated. News reached him that The Artist had been shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and it was almost identical concept. These are the directors words, "Nobody knew about The Artist until it appeared in Cannes. It was completely out of the blue. I was in my office in Madrid, doing the storyboards for my film, when a producer friend sent me a text message from the festival saying, 'I've just seen The Artist, it's black and white and silent and it's going to be huge.' I almost threw my phone against the wall. The high concept was gone."
I have to say that it was extraordinarily enjoyable watching the story and amazingly enchanting (evil) Maribel Verdu, but the credits should be given to the young Sofia Oria as Carmencita / Blancanieves and her older version acted by Macarena García (the one with the Best Actress award). Evil and romance were everywhere - even the dwarfs had it! I never thought that a children story inspiration could have such fascinatingly ambiguous ending... it had the right proportion of melancholy, eerie and erotic elements ... one of the critics said that this is "a film to treasure", and I will do just that!
Set in 1920s - A popular and rich bullfighter Antonio (Daniel) is watched by his pregnant wife in a fully-crowded arena, as he is run over by the bull due to some accident. Both Antonio and his wife fight for their lives at the hospital - his wife dies giving birth to his daughter as he becomes permanently crippled. Encarna (Maribel) a devilish nurse at hospital has set her eyes on popularly rich bullfighter - taking advantage of Antonio's refusal to see his newly born daughter, she proceeds to marry him and take over his estate. Carmen grows up under harsh treatment by his stepmother who has forced on her to live in shabby cellar - she is forbidden to go next-level story of the house where her father resides whom she has never seen in until her teenage years. Encarna has been keeping her husband in torment condition, while she herself engages in kinky show with her new boyfriend. One day she asks her boyfriend to take Carmen in woods and kill her - from where Carmen is picked up by bullfighting dwarves who save her.
It was charming and attractive when I played this movie. The Artist cheated us by containing spoken dialogues somewhere, but in case of Blancanieves we have been sincerely served by classic touch of cinematography and editing. I reckon had there been no 'The Artist' this movie should have all the opportunities of winning or receiving Oscar nomination. There is significant level of emotion in this story - it does wet your eyes. Garnering of plenty of dark-humor in it. For sometime I have been thinking that how could I have missed it for so long - I just envy those who are going to suck it up on the first come first serve basis.
Berger's inspiration for making this film came by watching bullfighting dwarves (España Oculta) - over the next few years he put it on himself to raising enough money through funds to bring his concept on silver-screen. Berger has also disclosed his frustration in his interviews over how he got pissed off at the release of Oscar-winning 'The Artist'. He simply regards this piece of art as his 'love letter to European silent cinema'
NOTE: The title of the film on RT carries 2012 - however the theater-release of the film was March 29, 2013
It is a great twist on the classic fairy tale. The cast is brilliant and it is a gorgeous film to watch. Alfonso de Vilallonga's rich soundtrack is a pleasure on the ears too.
All in all, I enjoyed this film. The absence of dialogue brings some melancholy to the grim themes of abandonment and parental loss addressed by Berger, where music and facial expressions must fuel emotion in the audience. When the film can let out and be cheery, it's whimsical and elegant, nostalgic for a distant time, a long time ago.
Highly recommended for the fantasy lover, or the film lover in your heart.