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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Snow White: A Tale of Terror (review)

Jealousy, Thy Name Is Woman (Or, Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Beauty to Live)

Francis Ford Coppola had nothing to do with this movie. But like Coppola’s Dracula, Snow White: A Tale of Terror (starring Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neill), a made-for-cable movie airing on Showtime, what was intended as dark gothic horror just comes off as something out a Renaissance Festival gone horribly wrong.

But that’s besides the point.

What I want to know is, why are men in movies never so driven by jealousy to commit murder, or at least try to? Why are only women so blindsided by the green-eyed demon?
Sigourney Weaver is your garden-variety Wicked Stepmother (and where are all the wicked stepfathers? but I digress) who can’t bear the fact that her new husband, widower Frederick (Sam Neill), divides his attention between her and his beautiful teenage daughter Lily (Monica Keena). So said Wicked Stepmother tries to kill the girl through various gruesome methods, one involving cannibalism and another the infamous poison apple.

Wicked Stepmother endures Lily (who’s never actually called Snow White) for years, but it’s not until Lily is a young woman and about to marry a hunky young nobleman that WS begins to plot the girl’s murder. I say, the kid’s gonna be out of the house soon — just let her go. (There’s also a mumbo-jumbo subplot about a stillborn child of WS, whose death WS blames on Lily — but it’s almost inconsequential.)

But female characters in movies seem to feel that another woman’s beauty is a threat to her own. So it’s no good for Lily to just be out of sight — she must be dead. Men in movies never seem to actually be jealous — they covet another man’s possessions (money, a woman [let’s not even get started there]), but getting and keeping what the other guy has is usually enough.

Of course, male characters in movies want things that can be traded back and forth: money and women and power (and some would say this applies to men in real life, too). Female beauty cannot be traded — if she’s considered beautiful (by men, natch), I can’t steal some of that from her.

(I’m reminded of a scene in one of my least favorite movies of all time: Single White Female. Early in the movie, there’s a montage scene in which Bridget Fonda is interviewing potential roommates, and each has a bizarre characteristic [can I remember exactly what they were? ‘course not] that no one would want in the person you’re gonna be sharing the bathroom with. Except for one interviewee, who seemed like a perfectly lovely person, except for her fatal flaw: She looked like a model, and Bridget Fonda’s character was obviously so insecure that her fragile ego couldn’t stand living with someone who was more beautiful that she was [why anorexic women are considered beautiful is a mystery to me, but I digress yet again]. It still gets me steamed, thinking about it.)

One more thing bugged me about Snow White: A Tale of Terror. Lily dumps her nobleguy in favor of a new Prince Charming, Will (Gil Bellows), a vaguely roguish poor peasant who is one of this film’s pseudo seven dwarves. I find the whole “poverty = goodness, wealth = evil” thing about as annoying as “beauty = goodness, ugly = evil.” Just thought I share that with you.

MPAA: rated R for some horror violence and a scene of sexuality

viewed at home on a small screen

  • U2shay@aol.com

    Well, I have to disagree with you on the bad review of Snow White: A Tale of Terror, though you are plenty welcome to your opinion. Personally I liked the movie, oh and by the way, I am a woman. I just thought that it was an interesting new take on an old story. Besides, whoever did the research for the costumes in the movie did an outstanding job. The detail that was shown on the costumes gives you a surreal sense of the time period, which by the way was the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century. I happen to be interested in that time period and have done some research in the field and I really think that they did an awesome job and deserve some recognition for it. Just sounding off.

    [originally posted to FlickFilosopher.com in 1997]

  • MaryAnn

    The costumes were wonderful, but that’s not enough to make for a great movie for me.

    [originally posted to FlickFilosopher.com in 1997]

  • Acb9134@aol.com

    I have just watched Snow White: A Tale of Terror for the first time. Well, I went online to see if they had any sites about it. I found yours. I hate to say it, but you were really off the ball this time. You complained about the story line for the movie, when what you complained about was the whole idea of the story itself. I admit, the dead baby was kind of pointless, but how could you not like Will, the supposed dwarf that she ends up with. I’m sorry, but her original fiance was a sissy. Plus he cheated on her. Will, on the other hand, always helped save her life, brought her back from the dead, was caring, kept giving her soulful stares, and obviously loved her. I don’t think you knew what you were talking about when you gave your review for this movie. Though, everyone is allowed their opinion, no matter how wrong it is.

    [originally posted to FlickFilosopher.com on 07.26.99]

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