Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Dec 18th
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

 

Is This a Dream?

A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams

 

Giving and Giving, Then Giving Some More

2014 is almost over. Wednesday, Dec. 17, the Jewish Festival of Light, Hanukkah, begins. We are in our last week of Sag and last two weeks of December. Sunday, Dec. 21 is winter Solstice, as the sun enters Capricorn (3:30 p.m. for the west coast). Soon after, the Capricorn new moon occurs (5:36 p.m. for the west coast)—the last new moon of 2014. Sunday morning Uranus in Aries (revolution, revelation) is stationary direct (retro since July 22). Uranus/Aries create things new and needed to anchor the new culture and civilization (Aquarius). We will see revolutionary change in 2015. Capricorn new moon, building-the-personality seed thought, is, “Let ambition rule and let the door to initiation and freedom stand wide (open).” Capricorn is a gate—where matter returns to spirit. But the gate is unseen until the Ajna Center (third eye), Diamond Light of Direction, opens. Winter solstice is the longest day of darkness of the year. The sun’s rays resting at the Tropic of Capricorn (southern hemisphere) symbolize the Christ (soul’s) light piercing the heart of the Earth, remaining there for three days, till Holy Night (midnight Thursday morning). Then the sun’s light begins to rise. It is the birth of the new light (holy child) for the world. A deep calm and stillness pervades the world.The entire planet is revivified, re-spiritualized. All hearts beating reflect this Light. And so throughout the Earth there’s a radiant “impress” (impressions, pictures) given to humanity of the World Mother and her Child. The star Sirius (love/direction) and the constellation Virgo the mother shines above. For gift giving, give to those in need. Give and give and then give some more. This creates the new template of giving and sharing for the new world.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Stocking Stuffers

The men behind the women of the Kinsey Sicks Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet explain their own special brand of ‘dragtivism,’ and their holiday show at the Rio
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Tramonti Pizza

Why there’s no such thing as too much Italian food in Seabright

 

Guitar or surfboard?

Guitar. The closest thing I ever came to surfing was sliding down a rock hill. Charlie Tweddle, Santa Cruz, Hats and Music

 

Fortino Winery’s Intriguing Charbono

At the opening celebration of the new Santa Clara Wine Trail in August, one of the wineries we visited was Fortino. This is where I first tasted their intriguing estate-grown Charbono—a varietal that is one of the rarest in California, with only 80 acres grown statewide.

 

Beyond the Jar

How Tabitha Stroup has built her rapidly expanding jam empire