Gender Roles – Women
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Gender Roles - Women: 4 Stars
The heroine of Snow White and the Huntsman never pines for love or for a distant hero to save her. She wants only the opportunity to restore her father’s kingdom to its former glory. While the story hints that Snow White has some magical connection with nature, she doesn’t win the day through incantations or supernatural gifts - but by donning a suit of armor and heading into battle. She still eats the poisoned apple, and is revived by the kiss of a man who loves her, but unlike most versions of this fairy tale, this isn’t the end of Snow White’s story.
Plot: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
Although Snow White doesn’t offer much heroism on the long journey to find what remains of her father's people, she does have her moments of bravery. She manages to escape from the palace into the dark forest on her own, and boldly confronts a vicious troll that threatens the Huntsman’s life. It’s still hard to ignore, however, that the Huntsman is the hero for most of this film. It isn’t until Snow White wakes from her near death slumber that she truly begins to shine. She’s given the rare opportunity to deliver a rousing speech and to lead her people into battle, taking back her kingdom from the darkness that’s claimed it. She also fulfills her own cryptic destiny, destroying the wicked Queen who enslaved her and murdered her father.
Love: 4 Stars
Snow White and the Huntsman includes an unexpected love triangle that illustrates some of the complexity of romance. Most films that attempt this type of story line pit an arrogant and unappealing suitor against the heroine’s obvious soulmate, giving audiences a simple and comfortable ending. In Snow White and the Huntsman, both men are brave and deserving of the princess’s love. Both men express genuine care and affection for Snow White. But only one can ultimately win her heart.
Unfortunately, we’re never told who that is, and we're left with a number of unanswered questions when she is crowned queen. This curious arrangement might have made a more powerful statement about the nature and foundation of love if it had been fully resolved.
Gender Roles - Men: 2 Stars
All of the men in Snow White in the Hunstman are warriors. Even William and the dwarves are archers or swordsmen who battle the queen’s army. While all of them express some softer emotions throughout the film, these moments are sparse and without much depth. The Huntsman eventually delivers a moving speech when Snow White is killed, exposing some of his vulnerabilities, past and present. Unfortunately, he never shows the same depth of character when she is awake.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 2 Stars
The initial premise of the Snow White fairy tale is that the wicked queen is driven by her jealousy when Snow White is proclaimed the fairest in the land. One of the problems with this story line is the suggestion that beauty is a purely objective standard, rather than something that is open to interpretation. Snow White and the Huntsman gives some indication that Snow White’s “superior beauty” is based on something internal, but never truly explains why Snow White’s “inner beauty” is so much more powerful than the women in the woods who have scarred their faces to save themselves and their children. Without some explanation as to why Snow White is the chosen one who can kill the queen, we’re left to assume that it is her beauty alone that gives her the power to speak to nature and to undo Queen Ravenna’s magic. If this is the case, it's a rather uninspiring message to send to young audiences.
Character Development: 3 Stars
Snow White’s character never evolves beyond that of a standard legend. She is destined to save the kingdom by virtue of her birth and lineage, and when the time comes, she fulfills that destiny. But little time is spent developing her personality or exploring her weaknesses and fears. Snow White has spent the majority of her life locked in a small prison cell. She watched Ravenna murder everyone dear to her, including her father, and yet she expresses no anger or remorse throughout the entire film. When she begins her journey with the Huntsman in the dark woods, he questions her on her loyalty to the dead king, arguing that it was the king’s foolishness that brought Ravenna’s cruelty to the kingdom in the first place. Snow White doesn’t have an answer for him, and never seems to contemplate any of this. She similarly has no passion at being locked up for so many years with neither William, nor the Duke, nor anyone else ever seeking to free her or seek revenge on Ravenna. This lack of depth is easily one of the most disappointing aspects of this film.