They’re classic stories, classic “types” – a benevolent king sends his son to redeem a fallen world; a man gives his life to save his companions; the blood of the pure overcomes the sorcery of the wicked; the power of love breaks the spell, and so on.
From fairy tales to Hollywood films to the Bible itself, these common themes creep into our best stories again and again and again.
Is this mere coincidence? A dearth of human creativity, that we keep repeating the same tales? An imprinted collective narrative left over from our tribal past? Or, as Mel Gibson famously asked Joaquin Phoenix, are you the kind who sees “signs” of something greater?
It’s not a fanciful or rhetorical question. It’s earnest. Because how you answer at a heart level will dramatically affect how you react to this movie review and, indeed, how you will react to the new film “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
For if you believe these themes are just the leftover imprint of humanity past, you’ll scoff at my review, be dissatisfied with “Snow White,” miss out on the power of Scripture and ultimately be blinded to its beauty.
But if you can believe instead that mankind was made in the image of a timeless God who has written the story of His love and redemption of fallen humanity not only upon our hearts, but also upon all creation (Romans 8:19-22) … then suddenly you can begin to see: These stories are not just the disjointed leftovers from the human refrigerator, but the threads of a grand narrative woven together in a tapestry, a siren call to taste and see the handiwork of God in all the greatest stories ever told, for there is only one story, one history, and that’s His story.
See what you have to ask yourself, Merrill, is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that hears whispers of Christ in a sacrificial death, that feels echoes of the Spirit in a faithful friend, that scents a trace of Scripture in a king who serves his subjects? Or do believe that stories … are just stories?
For on one level, “Snow White and the Huntsman” is just a story – a dark fairy tale filled with magically misty scenes that are both frightening and wonderful.
It’s just a movie, filled with too many underdeveloped characters and a heroine who can’t carry the tale.
It’s just a film, one that needed more moments of comic relief to break the dreary mood and a more cohesive storyline to become the epic it tries – and fails – to be.
It’s just a date at the theater, in which most audiences will walk away with a profound sense of “meh,” a movie night that was interesting but ultimately unsatisfying, as the film rarely rises above average.
But if you’re in “group No. 1,” as Graham said in “Signs,” if you hear something more in the fairy tales that we tell again and again through the ages, then you might just enjoy the taste of a higher Truth that wafts through the script of “Snow White and the Huntsman”:
- “Innocence and purity,” the evil queen is told of Snow White’s blood. “She is your undoing. She is also your salvation.”
- “Our Father, who art in heaven,” Snow White prays. “Hallowed be Thy name.”
- “I will not lose my only son. You don’t know the dark forest,” the father says of his princely son. Yet the son insists on going anyway with the words, “I will not abandon her a second time.”
- “She is life itself. She will heal the land,” it is said of the girl with “fairest blood.” “She is the one.”
- “I wasn’t worth saving, but she did so anyway,” the Huntsman says. Then, like Peter upon the waves, he confesses, “But I let her out of my sight, and I became the man I was, a man I never cared for anyway.”
- “You’d be a queen of heaven,” it’s said of Snow White, “and sit among the angels.”
And then, there’s the movie’s haunting words, referring to the curse that turned the queen evil and the promise of evil’s demise, “By blood done, by fairest blood undone.”
Do you hear and appreciate the parallels at all? Will you chew upon the metaphors and see them as themes that break though even the darkest of fairy tales like beams of light on an overcast day?
Or … maybe it is just a movie. Entertainment and art are just for amusement, right? “Just a movie,” they say.
And “Imagine” was just a song, “Les Miserables” just a musical, “1984” just a year, “The Chronicles of Narnia” just a bedtime story, and the Bible just a book.
Or maybe, just maybe …
- “Snow White and the Huntsman” contains only 3 minor obscenities.
- The film is also pretty light on sexuality, depicting only some kisses, some Medieval dresses with low-cut bodices and the resulting, pushed-up bosoms and a couple of shots of a woman’s bare back. There are a couple of references to rape, typical for the time period, but no depiction of it. The film has two “steamy” scenes – one a couple’s honeymoon, which is cut short before any nudity or sexual movement is seen, and another where the queen drops her dressing gown (seen only waist-up from the back) and rises from a milk bath with her hands covering her breasts – neither of which even approach the limits of a PG-13 film.
- There is plenty of violence in the form of knights and knives and battles, fists and arrows and catapults, though the filmmakers rarely go for gore shots. Few characters in the battles are actually seen injured. There are a few wounds shown after the battle and some bloodshed in non-battle scenes. There are a few gross scenes of animals cut open and rotting, including a stomach-turning shot of the queen eating a raw and bloody heart.
- The film depicts a magical, evil queen, but there is remarkably little spell casting or overt occult content. There are a few “spells” spoken, but they’re in simple, English poetry, such as “Mirror, mirror, on the wall …” There are some “fairies” depicted and other magical beings, including a white stag, sometimes considered a pantheistic symbol. The only overt reference to religion is Snow White praying the Lord’s Prayer.