Sunday, June 3, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman - Myth, Legend, Inspiration -- and Disney

Snow White, Grimm
Snow White, silly Disney of old pap stuff, silly birds
Snow White and the Huntsman:  Worth time and contemplation

Disney's Snow White breaks new ground in laying out the elements of myth and legend contained in stories we mistakenly aim for children.  It is worth its good reviews, see

In addition to entertainment value, there are historical truths in the film:  women indeed wore armor, were knights, just as Joan of Arc wore armor and led men.

A.  The new Disney film of Snow White and the Huntsman dramatizes a number of historical accuracies:

1.  The role of the oriflamme in armies' conflict, that long banner, spiked at the end, riding into battle. Let the battle banner fall, the oriflamme, and another must take its place and raise it again.  Oriflamme down!  See

2.  Analogy to Joan of Arc.  The Joan of Arc imagery is also extended in the motif of the fleur de lis seen in several scenes and decorations

3.  The castle on a peninsula at low tide, an island at high tide, see Mont St. Michel, France, or Mount St. Michael, modeled after it, in England.  And Croatian walled cities, like Primosten, in similar tidal areas, or built on peninsulas for protection.

B. The new Disney film of Snow White and the Huntsman also presents an enlightened view of the human dilemma of good and evil, and what to do.  Older Disney Snow White film, in animation, ignored anything requiring thought over entertainment and colors.

Our truth from Snow White as Disney unexpectedly presents here:

There are more truths in cultures' legends, recognizing their mythical, universal elements, than there is in any individual theology.  Theology attempts to narrow inspiration and interpretation to a few fabricated, overblown, factoids that will suit the power needs of the institution. Legend and myth leave room for individual response.  Teachings that are supposed to bind, are chains, hindering the human spirit, drive for autonomy, sustenance, the good.  Go, Snow White!  Disney, you did yourself proud to get away from pablum.

C.  And what happens when the life force is exploited, distorted, removed from the volition and wisdom of the woman, so instead, she is used for the purposes or theologies of others.

D.  New Disney Snow White.  This newly settinged Snow White is not kid stuff at the core.  It is inspirational, evocative, and well worth the ticket.

  • Here is the original story, the Brothers Grimm:  at the University of Pittsburgh site,  
  • The particulars of Snow White being hunted in the film differ, of course, from the mere lost in the woods and happening upon dwarves in the older Disney. 
  •  But the essence remains:  how and why to flee, when reality finally sinks in, how to be safe, and the newer element, how does evil  begin and prosper.  
  • How can evil be countered, when fear of its embodiment keeps it in place.

E.  In politics, when do the tactics of those determined to be in power, regardless of effect on the peasants, where the powers reject steps to better the condition of all the kingdom, so that their own aggrandizement is served, finally backfire.  What does it take to inspire the peasants yet one more time.

F.  The film adds a further mythical, legendary element:

How does a woman, as beautiful as the Queen, go bad.

 The answer echoes among many of us:  taken without will, too soon, exploited; as was the Queen; and then, the culture valuing only beauty.  Power comes with beauty, acknowledges the story, and so the Queen, angered and betrayed to the core already, proceeds to take any steps that will retain her physical beauty.

And the huntsman.  Is he now, the unexpected, lowly one, the chosen as consort, and not a prince?  

G. And the dwarfs are human, faceted, not caricatures for amusement.  They perceive, sacrifice, have no silly names.