***The Golden Queen Ravenna***
Digital composite by Felicia Lujan.
Includes three movie screenshots
and one abstract design.
First a few thoughts aside from my look at the symbols in this movie… Charlize Theron was smokin’ hot- I mean with a capital “S.” Her acting was excellent, and she had the look of straight crazy in her eyes more than a few times. I could tell that she had been completely consumed by her character, which I loved. She *became* the Evil Queen Ravenna. She ruled the movie! I guess I have always been really impressed with her acting since her role in Monster (2003). Kristen Stewart did a good job as Snow White, though her hair was not black. I did have a little bit of a hard time forgetting about her Twilight roles. I think that a good actor or actress can *become* their character flawlessly. A great actor/actress is so good that we can feel their roles devour them. I give Kristen an “A” for effort. She will get to where she needs to be as an actress now that she has discovered new roles to shed Bella. Chris Hemsworth was good as the Huntsman. I did forget he was Thor, but my son didn’t! I liked that Evan Daugherty and Martin Solibakke made the Huntsman strong and masculine, but were not scared to show his vulnerable/sensitive side. This movie did have some scenes which shattered gender stereotypes, which I liked.
There were several themes and scenes tied into the symbols I derived from Snow White and the Huntsman. Unlike other people who may have reviewed this movie, I looked at it as a stand alone piece. Though it was based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, the writers for this movie deserve credit, and a deeper look at what their writing was intended to convey to the audience. Following are a few concepts I identified in the film- these were: valuables versus the illusion of valuables; fire and water; heart and heartlessness; kindness and hatefulness; good and evil or light and darkness; freedom and captivity; connection and disconnection; and life and death. In the same order, here are some of the things I noted (yes I took notes) with regard to these concepts.
Valuables and the Illusion of Valuables
I found it interesting that in this movie, the Evil Queen’s mirror was gold. It was not an actual mirror, tough a reflection could be seen in the large golden plate. Not only is the mirror gold in this version of the tale, but the spirit in the mirror is actually a golden three dimensional figure. I think that this fortifies the value that Ravenna has placed on superficial beauty. I believe that this is an illusion of value. Though it is nice to be beautiful, true beauty can only be felt. It can not be seen. This is why Snow remains the “fairest” in the land. When Queen Ravenna demands that the Huntsman track and kill Snow White, she says that he will be “rewarded handsomely.” The Queen uses love to convince him, but he is not easily fooled by the illusion of value. He tells her “what good is gold if I am lying dead with crows picking at my eyes?” At one point in the movie, Snow and the Huntsman end up seeking refuge in a large village of scarred women. There are no men in the village as they are all off fighting for freedom. These women have deliberately defaced themselves to avoid the venomous clutches of the life force sucking Ravenna. The women selected for these roles were beautiful, but the writers gave them scars. The scars added value to their lives, as they got to live longer because the Queen did not want them.
Fire and Water, Heart and Heartless, Kindness and Hatefulness
In the beginning, as a child, Snow White finds an injured bird and takes it to her mother. The mother tells Snow that she has inner beauty because she wishes to help the bird. She is immediately cast in the light of kindness. Also in the beginning, fire appears in the mirror when Queen Ravenna first summons the mirror spirit. This could symbolize a few things. Maybe her fervent obsession with beauty? Could it be her heartlessness and hatefulness? The fire could also foreshadow her demise. In the last scene of the movie, Ravenna is consumed by fire while she is burning with rage. At one point as a prisoner of Ravenna, Snow starts a fire in her bare hands as she says a prayer. She can be seen as the kind, spiritual, fire starter with heart. In her case, the fire could symbolize passion versus obsession. Hearts can also be connected with fire. When one is passionate about something, they are often described as “on fire.” Both are also red. Yes- the heartless and dark Ravenna eats Sparrow hearts. This act could symbolize the Queen’s ability to take life and freedom from people. The heart beats when we are alive, and flight is a symbol of freedom. Ravenna also takes the life out of the heart of a man who tries to kill her. The movie has several references to water. When Snow escapes the Evil Queen she jumps into the ocean. Water is a symbol of life, and continuance. There is also the very symbolic tears in the movie.
Good and Evil, Light and Darkness
Snow White is a historically established symbol of purity and innocence. There are the bad birds- the Ravens, and the good birds in the Sanctuary. The good birds in the Sanctuary are the same type of bird that Snow saved as a child. The mirror also tells Ravenna “her innocence and purity is all that can destroy you, but she is also your salvation.” Ravenna’s mirror tells her that consuming Snow White’s heart will allow her to live forever,” which means “immortality.” The colors black and white are prominent in the movie echoing the symbolism of good and evil/light and dark. Some of the black things included: Ravenna’s attire; the Ravens; black smoke; the black horses in Ravenna’s dark army; the apple rotting to black in Snow’s hand; and an oil like substance present when Ravenna’s powers are weak. Some of the white things included: a Stag with tree branches for antlers; a horse; birds; a dress worn by Snow White; and the snow.
Freedom and Captivity
A major symbol of freedom and captivity was Snow White’s break away from being a delicate princess. She became a lover of the sword and found freedom through strength. Snow escapes from Ravenna’s dungeon, and several birds like the one she saved as a child fly around and surround her. Again, birds and flight can be interpreted as Snow regaining freedom. When the princess escapes into water, and surfaces on the beach, she encounters the white horse. The horse carries her away to her freedom, thus it can be seen as a symbol of such. The “Sanctuary” in the movie represents freedom. It is one place where Queen Ravenna has no power. It is also the place where magical creatures live. The Sanctuary is the “home of the fairies.” Several winged things in the movie symbolize freedom- there are birds, fairies, butterflies, and fireflies. Freedom and captivity can also be seen in Snow’s love interest. She feels free to break away from Prince William, because she has been captured by the Huntsman.
Connection and Disconnection
When he is feeling bad, he seems to drink, so Snow White asks the Huntsman if he “drinks to drown his sorrows?” He drinks constantly in the movie in an attempt to disconnect from his pain. When the Huntsman begins to train Snow on how to fight with a sword, he takes her firmly and says “you stab him in them heart and look into their eyes until you can see their soul.” It was at that moment that the characters were set by the writers to fall in love. At that moment, he looked deeply into her soul and she into his. The Huntsman captured Snow White with no force. She was captured by a simple gaze. Snow White disconnects from Prince William as she begins to develop a deep connection to the Huntsman. In one scene as Snow and the Huntsman are about to be killed by a troll, she also connects with the beast and they are let be. A theme of trust is also heavy in connection. Another symbol of disconnection is when Queen Ravenna kills the King. The King’s goblet with blood red wine crashes to the floor.
Life and Death
After Ravenna killed the King (Snow White’s father) “the land died and with it hope” under her rule. Ravenna consumes the life spirit of the beautiful to stay young and attractive. This process gives her beauty and life force. It does not always literally kill the person, but it does take their life. When the Seven Dwarfs capture Snow White and the Huntsman, the eldest can sense her goodness. He says “she is of the blood,” meaning the royal bloodline. Blood is a symbol of both life and death. The dwarf says “I can see an end to the darkness.” She then tells them she is the late King’s daughter. One of the dwarfs says “you have eyes Huntsman, but you do not see.” The elder dwarf tells the Huntsman “she is life itself. She will heal the land. She is the one. Do you not feel it?” Here again you can see that true beauty is felt not seen. The poisoned apple is a symbol of death and life all at once. The fruit nourishes, but the apple has been poisoned.
In the end, when Snow dies after eating the apple, she is kissed by Prince William. It was then that the audience awaited her awakening. You had to know she wouldn’t wake, as it was not true love’s kiss. Snow did not awaken until the Huntsman visited her lifeless body. There he sat drinking by her side. The Huntsman talked to Snow about her heart and her spirit. He leaned down to kiss her, and he shed a tear on her cheek. She was awakened by the provocation of her own tears, and her deep love and respect for the Huntsman. He had taken her heart, but in a much different way than anyone had expected. When Snow White kills the Queen she tells her “you can’t have my heart,” that is so symbolic- as it is really the Huntsman who has her heart. Snow now rules the kingdom, but she will rule with a tree branch as a scepter not gold. This scepter a symbol of growth and life, and a return to roots.