Blancanieves

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“Lavishly upholstered in silvery black and white… a grotesquely beautiful new take on the Snow White fable.” — Ella Taylor, NPR

Director: Pablo Berger
Year: 2012
Country: Spain
Running time: 104 mins
Censor Rating: M - adult themes
Genres: Glamour

Screenplay: Pablo Berger
Producers: Ibon Cormenzana, Jérôme Vidal, Pablo Berger
Photography: Kiko de la Rica
Editor: Fernando Franco
Production designer: Alain Bainée
Costume designer: Paco Delgado
Sound: Felipe Aragó
Music: Alfonso de Vilallonga
Silent, with English intertitles
B&W/DCP

With: Maribel Verdú (Encarna, the stepmother), Daniel Giménez Cacho (Antonio Villalta, the father), Ángela Molina (Doña Concha, the grandmother), Pere Ponce (Genaro, the driver), Macarena García (Carmen, ‘Blancanieves’), Sofía Oria (Carmencita, ‘Blancanieves’), Josep Maria Pou (Don Carlos, the manager), Inma Cuesta (Carmen de Triana, the mother), Ramón Barea (Don Martín), Emilio Gavira (Jesusín)

Festivals: Toronto, San Sebastián, London 2012; Rotterdam 2013

Best Actress (Macarena García), San Sebastián International Film Festival 2012

Don’t be deceived by the silence nor the black and white – this retelling of Snow White by Spanish director Pablo Berger packs a wild and colourful punch. Three stunning Spanish actresses lead the cast, including a terrifically vain and evil stepmother (Maribel Verdú of Y tu mamá también). Our Snow White – daughter of a flamenco dancer and a bullfighter – is no passive spectator lying around waiting to be saved: Carmencita is a feminist heroine – pure in motive, adventurous and unconventional. 

The rich setting of Andalusia in the 1910s and 20s provides a full-blown luxuriant landscape of forests, mansions and matador arenas. The visual opulence is matched by a vibrant flamenco score. Swift, bold cutting syncopates with Alfonso de Vilallonga’s soundtrack: this modern melodrama races along towards a non-traditional ending. It’s hard to imagine how faithful literalism to the original tale leads to incredible surrealism, but Blancanieves pulls moment after moment from its magic hat – the arrival of the poisoned apple seems a touch of some Almodóvar-like genius, and then you realise that was exactly the way the Grimm Brothers wrote it. — Jo Randerson

Blancanieves deftly blends cinematic antiquarianism, period atmosphere and primal emotions. Set in Spain in the 1920s, it replaces the spooky northern European romanticism of the Brothers Grimm with a swooning, tragic sensibility native to (or perhaps stereotypically associated with) the Iberian Peninsula… [The] story hums with jealousy, vanity and other volatile passions.” — A.O. Scott, NY Times