It’s fairly clear that the two big, competing Snow White projects that are under development have fairly different visions of the classic fairy tale. Tarsem Singh is directing Lily Collins in the title role as an update of the Disney version, but on visual acid:
While Kristen Stewart’s playing her as a warrior on a three-part journey “about being confronted with death,” of which Snow White and the Huntsman is apparently the first part:
I can get why vampires are big, a reckoning with the dangers and excitements of sex for the first generation of kids not to know a time before HIV, and I understand why angels, mostly in the form of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books and their attendant movie adaptations, would be the next big thing after that, a return to innocence, a sanctification. But I’m grappling with our return to fairy tales, which are back in a big way.
The competing Snow White projects suggest two different draws for that particular story: do you wake up gorgeous, to a handsome prince? Or do you wake up a warrior? Are you happy within the confines of your fate? Or do you rail against it? But then there’s the other half of the equation: how do you get to sleep in the first place? And who who or what wakes you up? Something like the modernized update of Sleeping Beauty that Emily Browning’s starring in gets very directly at the horror and fantasy of that kind of passivity:
I was crushingly disappointed by Red Riding Hood, which I’d thought had the opportunity to be a really searing look at arranged marriage, sexual violence and revenge, so I’m going to avoid getting overly excited about any of these projects before I actually see them. But I think io9 is right to push hard for the idea that if we’re walking back into the woods with the Brothers Grimm, that we should make movies that grapple with the terrors of the originals.
In recent years, we’ve spent a lot of time turning monsters of legend cute or sexy, which is a bit odd. It’s not as if disobedient children in a modern society are at much risk of running away into the woods, as if girls in most communities are endangering not just themselves or their property rights if they’re sexually active before they’re married. But that doesn’t mean that modernity eliminates monsters. And I’d love to see a fairy tale movie with an acute sense of what we fear most, whether it’s a new monster, or an old one.