So here it is, the end of another amazing year for MNFC! That means the Christmas extravaganza, this year organised with seasonal flare by Comrade Di. What an amazing night we were treated to: mince pies, Christmassy-shaped biscuits (including melting snowmen), mulled wine, pink fizz, chorizo stew. Christmas has officially begun people! Ho ho ho! HO!
And what a brilliantly inspired film choice by Di, who informed us that she had been wrestling with the idea of a Christmas film, but decided to go a bit left-field and link the Christmas vibes to “Panto” and show a film that she had originally seen last year in the BFI last year with our departed founder. Blancanieves is a 2012 Spanish take on the fairy tale Snow White. It’s also a break into a new genre for MNFC: silent film. Riding on the back of the success of 2011’s The Artist and it’s repopularisation or reimaging of the silent film genre, many critics have thought of Blancanieves that it is a more genuine foray into silent film than The Artist, in terms of its structure, narrative, cinematography and I suppose, subject matter (bringing to mind some of the great fantasy silent films such as The Thief of Bagdad and the works of George Melies). There are also references to early cinema too, such as the zoetrope. And interestingly, in it’s beautifully composed orchestral soundtrack by Alfonso de Vilallonga, the use of the Theremin. In terms of film score, this instrument was introduced by the composer Shostkovich in 1931, but gained real popularity in the B movies of the 1950-60s, in particular science fiction. Its over-use has resulted in its sound being somewhat cliché: but in the context of Blancanieves it allowed an unusual eerie feel to many scenes, particularly when combined with flamenco hand-clapping, and fast-paced cut editing that is linked to this rhythmic clapping.
Yes, it is a fairy tale, but this is certainly not one for children. There are many themes within Blancanieves that are certainly adult-only; such as child abuse and exploitation, necrophilia and sadomasochism. This is not the Snow White of Walt Disney, but far more that of the Grimm Tales. It is quite shocking re-reading their original texts. When the huntsman is sent to the forest to kill Snow White on the orders of her stepmother, he is ordered to bring back her lungs and liver as proof he has killed her. On hearing her pleas, and figuring that she would be killed by wild animals anyway, he chose to spare her and killed a boar instead:
“He killed it, cut out its lungs and liver, and took them back to the queen as proof of Snow-White’s death. The cook had to boil them with salt, and the wicked woman ate them, supposing that she had eaten Snow-White’s lungs and liver.”
And ultimately, when Snow White is discovered and revived (not by a kiss mind you, but by her coffin bumping on the road and dislodging the apple in her throat, whilst being transferred to the prince that had bought her corpse off the dwarves!):
“The wicked woman uttered a curse, and she became so frightened, so frightened, that she did not know what to do. At first she did not want to go to the wedding, but she found no peace. She had to go and see the young queen. When she arrived she recognized Snow-White, and terrorized, she could only stand there without moving.
Then they put a pair of iron shoes into burning coals. They were brought forth with tongs and placed before her. She was forced to step into the red-hot shoes and dance until she fell down dead.”
…Merry Christmas everyone!
Donald Clarke from the Irish Times sums this up well: “It hardly needs to be said that this fairytale is not really intended for children. In truth, few fairytales are.” But let us not forget this other fantastic version of Snow White, as produced in homage to the film Se7en. “There’s a dwarf on every street corner…”
Transposed to the world of bullfighting in 1920’s Seville, this review of Blancanieves would not be complete in my mind without a mention of Bizet’s Carmen and the similar way in which the passionate, violent and sensual atmosphere of the Plaza de Toros is captured. But far away from the romantic iconography, let us not forget that bullfighting is still a controversial issue around the world.
And so as this Festive review full of abuse and animal slaughter comes to an end on an unsurprising serious note, I think we should all raise a glass to the true star of the film, Pepe the Cock (by the way do not ‘Google’ that phrase, especially on a work computer!). But then again, even the amazing Pepe could not beat the dazzling display of Onesies modeled by Di and Jill on the night itself. There will be photo evidence for the world to see, although I’m not sure this is the right kind of website for that either!
So, that’s all from me, and all from MNFC 2013! Keep watching our site over the winter though film fans… the MNFC Review of the Year is under construction and early reports indicate it will be far more exciting than anything found in your stockings this year. Oh, that sounded ruder than I intended. I’ve been at the brandy.
This is not a democracy… IT’S CHRISSSSSTMAAAAAS!!!