Comparing the trailers for next year’s competing Snow White movies – Snow White and The Huntsman and Mirror Mirror, for those who haven’t been paying attention (and who could blame you?) – feels like a lesson in contrasting the two leading schools of thought in mainstream fantasy storytelling these days. But which one is likely to have more sticking power with the public?
In case you’ve managed to avoid the two trailers so far, here’s the trailer for Mirror Mirror:
…And here’s the Snow White and the Huntsman trailer:
So: Pretty different for what is, essentially, the same story, right? There’s little contest for which one I’d rather see, although I’ll admit that’s more from various parts of the Mirror, Mirror trailer actively putting me off that particular version, rather than Huntsman really bringing me over to its side (Especially “Snow White!” “Snow who?” “Snow way!” because, well, “Snow way”? Really?), but comparing the two, it’s strange to see what stands out as the differences: The color, the music – I can’t place the music used in the Huntsman trailer, but it’s very familiar; help, someone? – and, most of all, the tone.
Mirror is so old-fashioned, it almost looks like a parody; the jaunty celtic music at the opening, and production design that steals from old musicals and technicolor fantasy to illustrate a sanitized story wherein even the “evil” Queen has a sense of humor and is just trying to make her way through life… It’s an approach a million miles away from the overly-serious Huntsman, which is clearly going for the Twilight crowd – look, it’s even starring the same woman! – what with the amount of frowning and action and attempts to frame everything in such a way that removes it from any stereotypical idea of what a fairy tale should look like. Huntsman wants you to ignore everything you know about the story, whereas Mirror wants you to embrace it, so that it can make jokes at its expense.
Weirdly enough, I suspect that Mirror is the one that will have longer-lasting appeal; for one thing, it likely will appeal to a wider audience (Kids will be attracted by the straight-forward fairy tale aspects and the bright look of the whole thing, while adults will dig the snark aimed inwards; it’s Shrek but with real people and Julia Roberts!), and for another, I can’t quite shake the feeling that fairy tale revisionism has a particularly niche audience and a limited lifespan (After all, Red Riding Hood didn’t exactly set Hollywood alight, unless I blinked and missed it). Turning fairy tales into more realistic, more grim(m) stories may have some basis in their original forms, but it ignores the lesson of history – The stories became safe and unthreatening, because for whatever reason, those are the versions that people wanted to hear. Snow White and The Huntsman might work as an alternate look at a story that people grew up reading/listening to and learning, but it’s because it ignores that familiar version that it’ll never be more than a novelty that people will get over sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, if either of these films become a hit, it’s likely to be Mirror Mirror. Prepare yourself now for equally saccharine takes on Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and anything else the Grimm Brothers might have touched…
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