White As Snow
by writer/director Anne Fontaine
As evidenced by Austrian psychologist Bruno Bettelheim and many more qualified scholars, fairy tales are a central part of our collective social and psychological DNA. The fact that these stories are seldom “updated” is meaningful in itself, as if we could not let go of the structural components that were ingrained in us throughout centuries.
This is why I wanted to re-visit one of the most famous of our bedtime stories, and to do it in a playful mode—I have no claim to sociological or psychoanalytical laurels.
The tale is transplanted to today’s setting; there are cars and mobile phones, but it still is a tale, with its arbitrary narration and its (false?) innocence.
And the characters have aged some… Snow White has gone from girl to young woman, and the dwarves, while retaining a special bond between themselves, are no longer living under the same roof. As for the evil queen, I tried to make her less of a monster—just a woman who won’t grow old gracefully, because our contemporary society gives us all the reasons not to grow old gracefully.
It then felt logical to materialize the implicit tensions that make the fairy tale so lasting and powerful—primarily the sexual tensions. Snow White is both the healer and the healed one. She is attracted to all these men around her, as well as amused by these doomed bachelors, or, rather, bachelors married to their painful neuroses. While she discovers her own seducing powers, she morphs from princess to queen, queen of hearts of course, and from queen to woman—a path the older queen can no longer retrace….
As you will notice, there is one essential character from the tale that didn’t make it to the film: Prince Charming. I hesitated for a while before losing him. But it appeared that if we all need a Prince Charming in our fantasies, we don’t necessarily require one in real life….
Posted August 9, 2021