Yesterday, after two sold-out shut-downs, I finally saw Snow White and the Huntsman. At our pre-screening dinner and drinks, my friend and I discussed what we’d heard about the movie so far: unexpectedly good, Charlize Theron is brilliant, an empowering feminist slant. Though neither of us had read it, we discussed an apparently well-known review of SWatH as the beginning of a new genre of feminist film, led (really??) by Kristen Stewart.
After the movie, our collective response was: That constantly oscillated between expected and surprising! Daring ending! Strong female characters! Entirely unsubtle female Jesus figure!
At home this morning, I attempted to find the review we had discussed through a brief Google search. I was resoundingly unsuccessful—instead, Googling “snow white and the huntsman feminism” results in a barrage of reviews bashing the movie for its misplaced feminist interpretation of the classic fairytale.
In some scruffy, unbathed, unshaven, older-alcoholic way, the huntsman is supposed to make sense as Snow White’s true love. . . [I]t is his lesson about a knife to the heart that ultimately saves her. So, even though Snow White kills the Queen, he gave her the knowledge to do so. Her moment in armor? That was just a brief blip in drag. By film’s end, she is wrapped nicely back in a flouncy blood-red dress and will seemingly soon trip down the aisle with Sir Skirt Ripper. Gag.
Alright, Ms. Magazine blog. While I may devour “No Comment” like there’s no tomorrow (favorite), imma have to disagree with a lot of what you’re putting out there right now. Namely, the huntsman did not make sense to me as Snow White’s true love—rather, I came away from the film with the impression of a conscious effort to point out that they were not going to be tripping down the aisle soon, or at all. And that’s a bold move—flying in the face of the biggest mainstay of both Hollywood and fairytales. Did the huntsman teach Snow White to fight? Yes. Did that make sense, given the gender roles of their society (and the fact that she had been locked in a tower for a decade, and so had had no other opportunity to learn to fight)? Also yes. (Did K-Stew look like a total bad ass leaping through a wall of fire in full sword-wielding armor? Yes.)
To my understanding, a feminist revamping of a fairytale does not (and probably should not) completely ignore the admittedly chauvinist lean of the original. Let’s face it—if I was running for my life through the Dark Forest, I would probably want someone with me. You say that you know a man who can wield a battleaxe, which straight-up physical fact makes a difficulty for me? Fine, male companion it is. Even Katniss—whom this blogger seems to regard as the paragon of feminist hero, an opinion I partially agree with but also find a little questionable—had almost constant male companionship or protection, especially in the second and third Hunger Games books.
In any case. I am likely getting in over my head here. Suffice it to say that sometimes it is just pretty cool to watch a girl leap through a wall of fire in full sword-wielding armor.