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precarious since 1997 | 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

IMDb

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