Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Aug 04th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Kiss of Life

film1'Blancanieves' retells Snow White with spicy Spanish style

If you love fairy tales, in all their infinite variety, don't miss Blancanieves, Pablo Berger's flavorful retelling of Snow White with a decidedly Spanish twist. It's a silent film (no spoken dialogue, but with a vivid musical soundtrack), shot in luminous black-and-white, which only adds to its distinction. By making the story so uniquely his own, Berger proves just how universal the enduring and endlessly adaptable fairy tale format can be.

Snow White was the "It" girl of the moment last year with two separate Hollywood productions vying to bestow the kiss of life on the old tale. But Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman failed (the one too giddy, the other trying to graft on too much epic fantasy action) by attempting to recreate some kind of familiar, if nebulous, fairy tale realm. Berger shows how to do it correctly, setting his version of the tale in a very specific era and culture—Seville, Spain, circa 1920, a heady milieu rife with flamenco music, bullfighting, and women's emancipation.

The story begins with the heroine's parents. Her father is a famous matador, Antonio Villalta  (the elegant Daniel Giménez Cacho); her mother, Carmen (Inma Questa), is a beautiful flamenco dancer. On the day Antonio suffers a paralyzing accident in the ring, Carmen goes into labor early and dies giving birth to their daughter, called Carmencita.

Antonio can't bear to look at the baby, who is whisked off by her grandmother (Angela Molina) to be raised. Meanwhile, the scheming nurse, Encarna (Maribel Verdu), worms her way into the household of wealthy but now helpless Antonio, and drags him into marriage. Years later, on Carmencita's Communion day, her loving abuela dies, and the young girl (winsome, vivacious Sofia Oria) is sent to live in her father's household.

Here, filmmaker Berger borrows a page from Cinderella as her stepmother, Encarna, shuts up Carmencita in the cellar, cuts her hair, and puts her to work as the household drudge. Her only friend is a chicken—until the day she accidentally wanders into her father's room. Smitten with the girl who now reminds him so much of her mother, Antonio rouses himself out of his emotional doldrums; he reads her fairy tales and teaches the eager girl the art of bullfighting.

Of course, Encarna finds a way to permanently squelch their growing bond, and the now young adult Carmencita (Macarena Garcia) finds herself cast out into the world. She's revived from an attempted drowning by a troupe of dwarves with a traveling torero act; they stage mini bullfights with horned calves. She can't remember who she is (they call her Blancanieves, i.e.: Snow White), but she joins the act when she proves she knows her way around the ring. (Animal lover alert: no bulls are killed in this movie; it's all about the artistry of the cape.) Soon, the young lady matadora is the toast of Seville—famous enough to once again attract the notice of the jealous and powerful Encarna.

Verdu is great nasty fun as Encarna, swanning around in her chic clothes with matched pair of greyhounds, seeking advice from her mirror image in a reflecting pond. As Blancanieves, both little Oria and fresh, poised Garcia are spirited and appealing, but never sticky-sweet.

Berger has an eye for striking images (time passes as a full moon dissolves into the Communion wafer on the tip of Carmencita's tongue), and an ear for evocative music—his score includes flamenco guitar, propulsive hand-clapping, and the occasional haunting strains of a Theremin. And these are definitely not your Uncle Walt's dwarfs, from the cheerfully cross-dressing Josefa (Alberto Martinez) and pompous, embittered Jesusin (Emilio Gavira), to soulful Juanin (Jinson Añazco)—who is far more substantial than any typical storybook prince.

Berger's ending will be controversial. It seemed to me to occur about five minutes short of actually resolving the story that Berger sets up with such an inventive flourish. (Although it does work as a sly, cautionary warning to artists to never, ever sign a contract for life with a diabolical agent, as Blancanieves does here.) But at least the open-ended finale adds another layer of intrigue to a richly conceived and enchanting film. 

BLANCANIEVES ★ ★ ★1/2 (out of four)

With Maribel Verdú, Macarena Garcia, Sofia Oria, and Angela Molina. Written and directed by Pablo Berger. A Cohen Media Group release. Rated PG-13.  104 minutes.

Comments (3)Add Comment
Screening Location
written by Good Times, June 13, 2013
Hi all. The film was playing at The Nick, but has unfortunately completed its run.
i 2nd that-- where is this movie going to be playing
written by donnab, June 12, 2013
i 2nd that-- where is this movie going to be playing. i've searched all over the web.
thank you
where is this moving playing?
written by nocklebeast, June 07, 2013
It's not listed at www.thenick.com in either the "now playing" or the "coming soon" sections.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover