Snow White (2001)
Directed by Caroline Thompson

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* ½

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When his wife dies while giving birth to a daughter, John (Tom Irwin), a woodsman, sets out to find his newborn baby nourishment, but, instead, collapses in a snowstorm. The tears he subsequently sheds in his despair free a spirit, the Green Eyed One (Clancy Brown), who, in gratitude, grants him three wishes. John first asks for milk for his child, which is promptly given to him. Then he requests that his wife be returned to life. As the spirit cannot, however, resurrect the dead, he offers John, in her place, a kingdom to rule and a queen to wed. In order to fulfill this promise, the spirit transforms his hideous sister Elspeth (Miranda Richardson) into a beautiful woman and marries her to John. Although he has so escaped his earlier woes, John's troubles do not cease, and, sixteen years later, after his daughter, Snow White (Kristin Kreuk), has grown into a young woman, the cruel Elspeth becomes jealous of that girl and resolves to murder her. Fortunately, Snow White is able to escape from her tormentor and finds refuge in the home of seven dwarfs, who live deep in a forest.

Caroline Thompson's Snow White is an absolutely dreadful adaptation of the fairy tale told by the Brothers Grimm.

There really is almost nothing in the movie for which it can be complimented. The acting and script are not only atrocious, but also have an awkward modern quality that makes much of the film genuinely painful to watch. The sets are, without exception, remarkably shoddy. In fact, most of the movie looks as though it had been filmed in a garden behind someone's house. The costumes, sadly, are just as bad. Almost all are tacky and cheap, and some, like those worn by the dwarfs, each of whom is dressed in one of the colors of the rainbow, are also ridiculously gaudy.

In addition to such shortcomings, the movie is burdened by a number of absurd conceits. The dwarfs, for example, are named after the days of the week, and each is stated as having the personality of a child born on that day as these are given by the old nursery rhyme. Thus, as "Wednesday's child is full of woe," the dwarf named Wednesday is foul tempered. Actually, Wednesday, who is played by Vincent Schiavelli, is not a dwarf, but an ordinary sized man. What is more, the dwarfs, who here have the power to transport themselves to any place in the world by lining up and forming a rainbow, are introduced into the story when they so arrive outside of Elspeth's garden while searching for lost gnomes. These, cleverly, have been transformed by the hag into garden ornaments. The list of such nonsense goes on and on.

Scattered here and there amongst such ghastly elements, Thompson has, fortunately, included a few appealing details. Kristin Kreuk, for instance, is an attractive young woman and is always pleasant to look at, even if her acting skills are not equal to her physical charms. Some of the apparitions that emerge out of the queen's magical mirror are creepy and captivating, and the costumes and make-up used to create the Green Eyed One and to change Miranda Richardson into a hideous, balding crone afflicted with boils and sores are simultaneously repulsive and eerie. Such virtues cannot, however, compensate for the movie's numerous flaws.

Snow White is, in fact, a poorly made and generally boring film that is best avoided.

Review by Keith Allen

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