A recent Q & A with Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders on Screenrant has made me a bit more confidant in his interpretation of the classic tale, and more hopeful that Kristin Stewart can pull off her role.
On casting Kristin Stewart:
Yeah, I think we were looking for someone who was obviously a great actor first and foremost but also someone who’s incredibly physical. Everyone thinks she is Bella from Twilight. I think she’s such a good actor that she encompassed that role so well that people think that’s how she is. When you meet Kristen, she’s so far away from that character. I’d first seen her in ‘Into the Wild’ and I was really blown away. I remembered that she was the girl from ‘Panic Room,’ ‘Welcome to the Rileys,’ ‘The Runaways,’ and now ‘On the Road.’ She’s one those actors who does these smaller films and then she does these big movies and she’s really managed her career so well in that way. She’s incredibly spirited and very kind of wild and also she’s got this kind of this alchemy to her. You’re not quite sure what it is about her but on screen she’s just incredible. And when you see her act you realize why she is such a huge movie star and why she’s going to continue to get bigger.”On Charlize Theron's "very real" performance:
When you’re playing an Evil Queen you can go into pantomime very quickly. I think what she did so well and what really we all felt was the best kind of root for the character was that she wasn’t playing pure evil. I don’t think anyone’s born pure evil. Things happen to them growing up that make them who they are and I think that’s very true with her backstory that you see later in the film. She’s a very disturbed character who’s desperately got to find this heart because she needs to live forever. It’s as simple as that. She’s dead on the inside but she’s determined that she will avenge her family and the tribe that she was with that was constantly brutalized by kings and other kingdoms. She’s determined that the world will feel the suffering that she felt and she will stop at nothing to do that. She’s driven by some dark machinations but she’s also incredibly wounded and fragile underneath that. You can relate to her, because we understand the things she’s gone through and why she’s become evil. She’s not just sitting around with a white cat on her lap and hacking people’s heads off. Her evil comes because of how distorted the character has become. So she plays it very real and I think that’s really the success of the character. She’s incredible to watch."On why he chose "Snow White":
“I think it’s because it’s the best fairy tale. I don’t like them when they get too princess-y. I don’t love balls and sleeping beauties, that kind of thing. I think the great thing about ‘Snow White’ is those images have scarred me since I was a child with the Queen, the mirror, the taking of the heart, the huntsman and the enchanted forest. So really, my goal was to re-appropriate those myths and those symbolic devices. Each of those ideas is so deeply psychologically embedded and that’s why the stories have lasted so long. People still have a thirst for them internationally. So it was a great opportunity to go back to that source material and create something very new and contemporary with it but in keeping with the Grimms fairytale version of it. We’re not polishing it up to make it something that it isn’t.”On the tone and imagery of the film:
"One of the first things that I did was I went out and found a group of fifteen contemporary artists around the world and I’d give them an idea and they’d start to sketch it. I’d call them again, we kept up this kind of constant accumulation of imagery in which we created a bible. And then I made everyone who came into the film read the bible, understand the world and understand the mechanics of the world, the physics of it, why the dark forest is what it is, why the enchanted forest exists. What is the spell? What are the three drops of blood? What’s the symbolism? What’s the mythology? So once everyone had that, I think they really were able to go into a very rich world that was already kind of designed for them. Knowing that as an actor is like getting into costume. Once you know the world you know how your character fits into it.” (Full interview)It seems that Rupert Sanders did his homework. He tried to delve deeper into the fairy tale itself and ask questions of it to come up with his expanded version of the story. He was haunted by the dark images of the story as a young boy, and has never seen the Disney Snow White. While I know many would argue that Snow White is very princess-y, as she has things happen to her, rather than taking agency, I think the story could be interpreted in several different ways. I agree with Rupert Sanders that it is almost as dark a story as The Juniper Tree. Many people just see the Disney version overlaid on the tale. Read the Grimm's version over at SurLaLune, and you be the judge.
Check out some additional footage that looks pretty damn awesome (with a worrying psychodelic Lisa Frank forest in the middle):