Snow White and The Huntsman: An analysis

This is for Megec, who asked for a more in depth look at the recent film, “Snow White and the Hunstman.” If you don’t want any SPOILERS, then please do not read this post!!! I warned you!

I actually think this film was very thoughtful of the fairy tale and in essence, captured its own speculations about our familiar “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” There are a lot of the same themes presented in the film that give life to the tale. Sexuality, revenge, war, aging/death.

Snow White, the original fairy tale, is all about sex. The queen is evil because she embodies sex (widows were often feared, as they were sexual and single, and used as a symbol for wickedness and sin), and she hates Snow White because she is youth, and innocence on the verge of sexuality. In the mirror, she can watch Snow White, because Snow is a reflection of herself. (For a more detailed speculation on the actual fairy tale and not the film, please see my original analysis on “Snow White” on my Stepmothers post)

Charlize Theron’s perfomance as the witch Revenna is as fascinating, dark, and complicated as I have always thought of the character to be. She is also intelligent. She tricks the king into battling her shadow army so he can “rescue” her (scantily clad and looking innocently frightened). BRILLIANT! She is a tactician, playing on young Snow’s vulnerability as well as the sexual needs of the father. Already, here, in the moment of her wedding, sex is the crux of this film and the fairy tale.

Her sexuality lures the king in, and his desire is what brings his life, family, and kingdom, to an end. Her sexuality, her beauty, is also what draws young Snow to trust her. Let’s look at the scene on the eve of her wedding, when Ravenna slays the king:

About to make love, she straddles him and tells him her story, while he swoons over her and pretty much doesn’t listen to a word. Once (we find out later from her dialogue and the flash back, that it is like a hundred years ago) she was stolen as a very young girl to be a bride for a king only to be tossed aside when she got too old. Now, I have several ideas on that alone: Was she molested as a girl? Did she love her king? Was she betrayed by him (infidelity)? And how old was too old? Obviously, this experience was scarring because she was separated from her mother so early, and then replaced when she was too old (therefore rejected sexually). So, anyway, she’s straddling him, and then she stabs him with a knife (which, criminology and psychology studies to be an intimate and sexually significant choice for a murderer.)

It is interesting, too, that her counterpart and blond haired lacky — her brother — is a rapist and predator of women. She condemns her husband because he would use her and toss her aside, hollow, when her brother does this to hundreds of women (thanks to her power). I think this is because they mirror (pun intended) each other. She is a sexual predator, a huntress, a murderess, and he is the same, only male. 

On the other side of the fence, is Snow and her hunky Huntsman. She is kind, Christian (you see her praying), and just. He, though a wreck in the beginning, is honest, moral, and kind. So you have two sets of male/female dynamics here: You can be sexual, fierce, bloody, lonely, and wicked (though powerful), or you can be innocent (Snow is a virgin, and the huntsman was married, so they are both “pure” in that way of thinking), kind, moral, ect, ect. Your good/evil set up. 

What is interesting, then, is the Huntsman. In the original tale, he is a symbol for male sexuality (being a hunter, animalistic, masculine, and carrying the knife, a phallic symbol, with which he will pierce her). Also, just LOOK at Chris Hemsworth. He is a manly man. ‘Nuff said. 

I think, though, that the film has added a complexity to the fairy tale that is necessary for our current cultural mindset, and that is: she’s not ALL bad. Sure, Ravenna is a soul-sucking (literally), manipulative, cruel, viscous, and power hungry chick, but she is also incredibly fragile. When she is stabbed, she cries out and scurries like a wounded animal, afraid. She is pretty much motivated by fear: As a child, she is given her abilities to protect her from the king, then she uses them as she fears to be a plaything for Men, and finally, she turns on Snow because she fears her own fate of old age and death.

When Snow says, “You will never have my heart,” I thought that line was very important and threefold. One, you literally CANNOT have it, she won’t give it up. Two, you do not have the capacity to be kind and gentle like Snow. Three, you will never be as beautiful as Snow, because her beauty IS her heart. A lovely spin on our idea of beauty. 

**A detail I loved was that the forest spirit was the white hart with the large antlers, a symbol for nature that has been used throughout many different ancient mythos, especially Celtic and European.

I hope that analysis met your needs! :) If you have any questions or anything you want to discuss that was/was not mentioned, please feel free to either reply to this post or message me and I can make it public.

Any thoughts?