Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Snow White's supporting cast

Aside from the main character, there are types of characters that seem universal in most Disney movies: the love interest, the villain, the parent figure/wise mentor, and the sidekick(s). In these character blog posts, I will set out to examine these other characters and how they impact the story. I welcome your responses and thoughts!

The Huntsman
I’m not familiar enough with the actual Grimm fairy tale to know the hunstman’s role in the original story. Although he plays a small part here, he is crucial. He is the first person in the story to show compassion, and he saves Snow White’s life while risking his own (I’m actually surprised they didn’t show the Queen punishing him for his disobedience). In fact, he is such a unique character that he does not fit into any of my Disney character types! Apparently, in one of the (three!) upcoming Snow White adaptations, the one starring Kristen Stewart (of Twilight, blech), the Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth, aka Thor) will have a more significant role. Should be interesting. I may have to see the movie just so I can comment on its comparison to the Disney version!

The Love Interest
The prince actually has a very small role in this film. I didn’t mind so much - although it was kind of hilarious (or annoying) how he prances in at the very end (after the dwarfs proved themselves the real heroes of the story) and gets to be the one to kiss the girl and live happily ever after with her. I think the story could have been fine without the prince altogether, but I suppose adding the romantic element is what makes Disney movies what they are. After watching some of the DVD’s features special I learned that the animators were having a difficult time with visualizing him, and therefore minimized his role quite a bit. I could definitely tell, because in most of his scenes you could only see the back of his head and they hardly used his likeness in any of the publicity materials. No wonder - he kind of looks like a girl. (I am so glad Disney improved over the years... think of Aladdin, Prince Eric, and, ahem, Flynn Rider! swoon. just kidding. but not really.)

The Villain
The evil Queen in Snow White definitely sets the stage for all Disney villains - she is charismatic and beautiful, and possesses dark power that is truly frightening, even to my 28 year old self. Although I don’t doubt the Queen’s evilness, I wish I knew more about her, and why she was so paranoid! It seems strange to me that a queen, who should be busy ruling the kingdom, spends all her time in front of a mirror, making sure she is the most beautiful one in the land. Her extreme vanity without any other character development makes it hard for me to understand her. I can’t imagine seeing her transformation into the old hag as a child; it would have definitely given me nightmares! But seeing it now, there was something comforting about it - like all along she should have been that ugly because it shows her true nature. I am curious to see how this theme of evil = ugly & good = beautiful will play out in future movies.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comments about the Queen. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the villains in these movies, and to note the differences between male and female villains. The Queen here has vanity in common with the newest female villain I've met (in Tangled), and with the absolutely insane and memorable Cruella DeVille (love the song about her!) The Stepmother in Cinderella is more fixed on her own daughters, and moves from cruel to vindictive. Of male villains (for me) Jafar in Aladdin comes to mind as motivated by sheer power, and one of the shallowest male villains (but oddly memorable) is Gaston, who is also vain, but who becomes more insanely vindictive as the denouement unfolds. Scar is probably the most deliciously complex villain, but envy is obviously his prime motive. To me, he is the most purely evil Disney characters, nearly as complex as some of C.S. Lewis's villains. So this will be intriguing to (re-)watch.

    Can't wait for the review of Dumbo!