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FLICKS: Blancanieves

Posted on 18 April 2013 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


While he has not directed a movie in five years, Guillermo Del Toro has been a major cultural influence on the international motion picture industry. His Pan’s Labyrinth has changed the way adults look at fairy tales. The successful ABC Broadcast Television show “Once Upon A Time” would be an unthinkable Disney product five years ago, given popular culture challenges of Cinderella and Snow White.

Blancanieves is director/ writer Pablo Berger’s answer to the folklore of Snow White. A black and white silent movie set in early 20th Century Spain, it has all the influences of Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel with a touch of Tod Browning and Lon Chaney Sr. Stark noir composition aided by musical score featuring a flamenco guitar, maracas and a full orchestra, this film is a visual feast for art students, but not necessarily children.

The film opens with the majesty of a bullfight. When Spain’s greatest bullfighter, Antonio Villalta (Daniel Giménez Cacho) is mangled in front of his pregnant wife, a girl named Carmencita is born. The mother dies in childbirth and the evil Nurse Encarna (Maribel Verdu) takes advantage of the situation.

Encarna becomes Antonio Villalta’s caretaker and mistreats little Carmencita. After forbidding the daughter from seeing her father, Encarna is distracted by kinky pleasure. Carmencita sneaks into her father’s bedroom and finds ways to entertain her daddy. These sequences are broad and over-the-top.

As The Artist was a tribute to the comedy of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton,

Blancanieves is closer to freak shows of Lon Chaney and Tod Browning. Young Carmencita faces sadism and witnesses the death of her father and her pet. As Carmencita becomes a young bullfighter herself, the young lady befriends seven little people who work for a traveling carnival, as Encarna gloats upon her over-the-top villainy.

Though a silent movie, Blancanieves is a very contemporary movie with satire. The mirror, mirror on the wall (that inspires Encarna’s jealousy) is transformed into the society page of a fashion magazine.

The dark melodrama of Blancanieves will not appeal to everybody. Yet, for a unique motion picture experience about Spanish Culture, this film is fascinating.

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