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Who’s the Fairest?: Adapting Snow White HUM 2085: Film and Television Adaptation Summer 2013 Dr. Perdigao May 23, 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "Who’s the Fairest?: Adapting Snow White HUM 2085: Film and Television Adaptation Summer 2013 Dr. Perdigao May 23, 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 Who’s the Fairest?: Adapting Snow White HUM 2085: Film and Television Adaptation Summer 2013 Dr. Perdigao May 23, 2013

2 Film as Medium Cinema—from Greek kinein (to move): movie, film (Dick 2) Text—from Latin textum (that which has been woven) (2) Film as hybrid art—draws on theater, painting, music, dance, mime, photography (2) Narrative film—tells a story Film as narrative told through sound image, builds to a climax and culminates in a resolution (4) Movie time vs. running time: movie time manipulates real time (8) Roland Barthes’ theory of the reader’s role in the text—no longer a consumer but producer (269), basis of reader-response criticism in the 1970s Applying models of interpretation from literature to the medium of film

3 Literary Techniques Flashback (Dick 270) -may be introduced by a slow fade-out/fade-in, dissolve, wipe, or quick cut -furnishes information that is otherwise unavailable, dramatizes a past event as it is being narrated, or explains the connection between past and present when none of the characters can do so (270) Flash-forward (271) -popular since the 1960s -some aspect of an event is shown before it occurs -related to the literary foreshadowing or prolepsis (rhetorical technique in which a speaker anticipates—and answers—an objection before it has even been raised) (271-272) Point of view (272-273) -first person film, with voice-over narration, subjective camera -third person narration—omniscient camera, likened to omniscient narrator Henry James’ “center of consciousness” or “reflector,” identification with one character (274)

4 Transforming the Fairy Tale “Metamorphosis is central to the fairy tale, which shows us figures endlessly shifting their shapes, crossing borders, and undergoing change” (Tatar 55). Idea of “shape-shifting,” transforming physical body as well as identity For Tatar, stories as “shape-shifters” “Finally, the transformative magic in fairy tales—their spells, curses, and charms— lead to metamorphoses that enact the consequences of magical thinking. And yet the transformation of beasts into princes or boys into hedgehogs, as children quickly learn, is possible only in the world of stories. Even as fairy tales ultimately debunk magical thinking, showing that it works only in the realm of story, they also affirm the magical power embedded in language, the way that the ability to use words can grant a form of agency unknown to the child who has not yet fully developed the capacity to use language.” (Tatar 57)

5 Fragmentation and Cohesion “The Grimms seem here to stay, and yet, what we find of Grimm and of fairy tales in the United States seems often to take the form of cultural debris, fragments of once powerful narratives that find their way into our language to produce colorful turns of phrase. In the media, we read about a Goldilocks economy, about the Emperor's new clothes, and about Sleeping Beauty stocks. In popular send-ups of the classic plots, the purpose is usually to mock the values found in the earlier variants, whether it is the virtue of selfless industry or a lack of vanity.” (Tatar 58) “The Grimms’ tales seem to have a ubiquitous cultural presence, even if they appear adapted, refashioned, reconfigured, and often profoundly reinvented. Even as fairy tales transform themselves, they seek transformative effects, producing what Graham Greene refers to as ‘excitement and revelation.’” (Tatar 59) “The curses, spells, and charms of fairy tales are far removed from what Austin describes as the performative, for they have the unprecedented power to create real physical change, not just the power to perform rituals that produce a change in legal or official status or to persuade, support, or discourage. It may be true that we talk about language as having somatic effects (words can ‘wound’ or have the power to ‘assault’ us), but, in fact, it is only in fairy tales that they are endowed with the capacity to produce real physical change.” (Tatar 61)

6 Transformation “For children, all adults possess wizardry in their control over symbolic forms of expression—they can create illusions, effect changes, and take on agency through words. The child reading a book, by learning about the magic art of the Great Humbug, can begin to move from the childhood condition of lacking the words needed to name, describe, and define what affects us. Fairy tales help children move from that disempowered state to a condition that may not be emancipation but that marks the beginnings of some form of agency.” (Tatar 63)

7 Retelling the Story of Snow White 2012: Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror, Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman, and ABC’s television series Once Upon a Time Retellings reflect the contemporary culture surrounding the production (or reproduction of the story) The Brothers Grimm’s adaptation of own sources—from first publication to revisions, alterations of language, development of narrative voice of the stories (homogenization), expanding the stories to allow for inclusions of morals (comparison to Peter and Wendy—the narrator’s control over the ending) Brothers Grimm text as “educational tool,” new marketing—taking stories from literate adult audience to children From “literary fairy tale” to reflections of a more popular culture

8 Grimm Revisions “Snow White” as less sexualized story than “Little Red Riding Hood” so less “sanitization” but alteration of character, narrative Alteration from role of the “Evil Queen”—jealousy of Snow White’s own mother in early version Snow White’s redefined roles—cook, clean, wash, knit—consistent with conduct books of the period: gender roles prescribed with women as modest, submissive, selfless

9 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

10 Disneyfication of Snow White Framed with a book as “establishing shot” Revision of details of plot Mirrors and other reflective surfaces Identity and performance Love story Awakening of Snow White contingent upon Prince’s kiss 1930s gendered stereotypes Disney’s as dominant version, rewriting how culture remembers the story

11 The Uses of Enchantment and Disenchantment Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment (1975) Psychoanalytic readings of fairy tales Therapeutic benefit to reading fairy tales Rivalry with the parent, Oedipal/Electral struggle for power and supremacy Queen’s jealousy as projection of child’s own ideas—turning jealousy into that of the other, for Bettelheim Snow White’s desire to kill parents Less literally, freedom from parents, individuation Snow White’s maturation before second death threat, stops child’s development into adulthood Story of psychological growth, development and maturation into adulthood

12 Mirrors and Identity Psychoanalytic readings, uses of the mirror, from Jacques Lacan to Christian Metz on film Jacques Lacan’s “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I” (Écrits, 1966) 6-18 months old Introduction of the “Ideal I” “The mirror stage is a drama whose internal thrust is precipitated from insufficiency to anticipation—and which manufactures for the subject, caught up in the lure of spatial identification, the succession of phantasies that extends from a fragmented body-image to a form of its totality that I shall call orthopaedic—and, lastly, to the assumption of the armour of an alienating identity, which will mark with its rigid structure of the subject’s entire mental development” (4) Janet Strayer’s “Trapped in the Mirror” (1996): mirror as compelling character in narrative, projection of society’s desires, the “male gaze” echoed in film

13 Contemporary Culture 1970s and 1980s—feminist theories, ideas about the self, language in critical theory, New Historicism New retellings and critical rereadings Readings shifting focus from psychoanalytic to classed society—maturation into contemporary society, prescribed roles for men and women; revisions to parody those roles Feminist readings to challenge the passivity of the princess character and to humanize the “Evil Queen” Role of the “Evil Queen”—power, as masculine rather than feminine, the making of the female “monster,” even a cannibal (Snow White and the Huntsman?)

14 The Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White” Story begins with queen sewing, in the middle of winter Needle—three drops of blood fell onto the snow: white as snow, red as blood, black as the wood of the window frame (167) Snow White reaches age seven—mirror answers Snow White is more fair Lungs and liver rather than heart Beauty saves her from the huntsman Finds dwarfs’ cottage—Goldilocks revelation Delight at her beauty Asked to keep house, cook, make the beds, wash, sew, knit, keep everything neat and tidy (171)

15 The Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White” Queen filled with envy Disguise—worst fear, old woman Offering “pretty things” Dwarfs save her from the staylace Caution to Snow White—fails to heed, three times Red and white of the apple—duality, good and evil of stories Dwarfs mourn Snow White for three days—want to bury her but she still looks to be alive Glass coffin—so they see her from all sides Name in golden letters

16 The Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White” Marriage upon her awakening Stepmother invited Now replaced by young queen in mirror’s response Punishment—iron slippers; dance until death

17 The Brothers Grimm’s “The Three Little Men in the Woods” Widow and widower, two daughters Bathe in milk and drink wine Wicked stepmother Thrown out into winter landscape to fetch strawberries Meets dwarfs, given gifts for charity—more beautiful each day, gold pieces falling from mouth, king makes her his wife (41) Woman’s daughter—becomes uglier each day, toad will jump out of her mouth, will come to an unhappy end (42-43) Moral—benevolence, care, selflessness Transformation into a duck to take care of her child Three days visit—sword passes over her three times

18 The Brothers Grimm’s “The Three Little Men in the Woods” Stepmother devises own punishment: put in a barrel studded with nails and rolled down the hill into water (45)

19 The Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White and Rose Red” Widow Two rosebushes in garden, white and red roses—children resemble rosebushes Children are kind and devout, helpful and cheerful Snow White—more quiet and gentle See child in woods with glittering white dress (244): angel Summertime—Rose Red; wintertime: Snow White, flowers and fire Mother reading stories Bear visits, leaves to guard treasures after winter Gnome

20 The Brothers Grimm’s “Snow White and Rose Red” Transformation of bear after breaking the curse Mother plants rosebushes, white and red—etymological story, myth-making

21 Snow White and the Huntsman and Popular Culture Kristen Stewart—passivity of Bella Swan, rivals for her love in the Huntsman and William (not a vampire and werewolf but close) Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland Opening of the film—revision of wish for Snow White: “Once upon a time, in deep winter, a queen was admiring the falling snow, when she saw a rose blooming in defiance of the cold. Reaching for it she pricked her finger and three drops of blood fell. And because the red seemed so alive against the white she thought, ‘If only I had a child as white as snow, lips as red as blood, hair as black as a raven's wings, and all with the strength of that rose.’ Soon after a daughter was born to the queen and was named Snow White.” The idea of will, power, and strength for Snow White; admired for defiant spirit as much as for her beauty Beauty in Grimm story Role of the huntsman in her escape and safety





26 Studying the Queen Ravenna’s story, reaction to men, power over them Ravenna’s beauty as pharmakon, poison and cure “When a woman stays young and beautiful forever, the world is hers.” “So poisonous was the reign of Ravenna that nature turned on itself and people turned on each other. The land died and, with it, hope. And all that time she kept Snow White imprisoned high up in the north tower.” Women Snow White meets—scar selves to save their lives




30 Snow White and the Huntsman and Popular Culture Returns to the mirror Revelation that Snow White has come of age, that she is the reason why the queen’s powers wane Her innocence and purity can destroy her but she is also her salvation—if she takes her heart, she will be immortal huntsman-and-fairy-tales.html huntsman-and-fairy-tales.html























53 Prophecies “You have eyes, huntsman, but you do not see. You who have been the one with her the longest. She is life itself. She will heal the land. She is the One. Can’t you feel it?... Where she leads I follow”


















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