One of the most beloved stories of all time comes to life in the spectacular motion picture event Mirror Mirror, starring Lily Collins (The Blind Side) as Snow White and Oscar-winner Julia Roberts as the evil Queen. A fresh and funny retelling of the classic fairy tale, the film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the Prince, Sean Bean ("Game of Thrones") as the King, and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the Queen's hapless and bungling servant, Brighton.
After a beloved King vanishes, his ruthless wife seizes control of the kingdom and keeps her beautiful 18-year-old stepdaughter, Snow White, hidden away in the palace. But when the princess attracts the attention of a charming and wealthy visiting prince, the jealous Queen banishes the girl to a nearby forest.
Taken in by a band of rebellious but kindhearted dwarfs, Snow White blossoms into a brave young woman determined to save her country from the Queen. With the support of her new friends, she roars into action to reclaim her birthright and win back her Prince in this magical adventure comedy that will capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences the world over.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated feature Disney ever produced and released with RKO Pictures in theatres, back in 1937. It is likely every person in America, and maybe the world, saw the film during their childhood. It is iconic, important for more ways than one in film history, and remains to this day one of the most treasured animated pictures of all time. Mirror Mirror is based off of the same Grimm fairy tale as Disney's Snow White, except this is not your childhood's Snow White story--not by far.
Tarsem Singh, the Director behind Immortals and the extra-strange The Cell, presents Mirror Mirror as a twisted fairy-tale, full of biting humor, sarcasm, excessiveness, decadence, and a touch of love. Mirror Mirror is a splendid re-imagining of the Snow White tale for those who prefer a darker side to their fairy tales, and appreciate it when a film's tone is more ironic than objective.
An opening animated sequence brings everyone up-to-date on the story; The Evil Queen (Julia Roberts) married the King of the land (Sean Bean), and when he went missing in the haunted woods took over as ruler of the kingdom. His daughter, Snow White (Lily Collins) was seen as a threat to the Queen, and ordered locked in her room. A new twist on the story is revealed when we find out what the villagers have been told about Snow White all these years--that she is a deformed monster, to say the least. Yes, this is not the normal tale of Snow White. Snow White is now 18 years old, the Evil Queen has drained all the money from the once prosperous kingdom, and things are about to change drastically when the wealthy Prince Alcott pays a visit. The Queen wants to marry the Prince, for his money and perhaps his youthful good looks. Snow White and the Prince have a "moment" where sparks fly. But Snow is ordered to be killed by The Queen, for she must protect her status as the fairest of them all. The haunted woods become a safe haven for Snow White, and a band of unruly and hilarious dwarfs her knights on springed stilts--the better to rob people if you are taller than them. Taking down the Evil Queen, rescuing the villagers from poverty, securing the dwarfs as good citizens again, and finding love are all the things Snow White's journey entails.
Mirror Mirror is a jaunty romp of a film. The tone is mischievous at all times, with each character bringing a different persona to the table than seen before, and with a great deal more mockery on the entire fairy tale premise. The film is light, then dark and sinister. It moves between the two by way of humor, causing the viewer to enjoy it much more than if it was simply a live-action fairy tale. It plays similarly to a Bollywood musical, minus the musical numbers, except over the end credits. Mirror Mirror would have made a great Bollywood spectacle (and given its similarities you do wonder if Tarsem originally conceived of it that way). The cast is all superb, the costuming and production design full of imagination and wonderment, and the maturing of Snow White from naive princess to bandit-in-the-woods an excellent twist on the story. Snow White can still cook and clean, but she can also yield a sword. Tarsem Singh's wild re-imagining of the classic Snow White tale is resplendent mirth, even when it is being wicked.
Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka, who worked with Director Tarsem Singh on Immortals, The Cell, and The Fall, and was nominated for an oscar with Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula, creates some of the most decadent and elaborate costuming with Mirror Mirror to ever be seen on screen. The film also marks her final work, as she passed away on January 21, 2012 at the age of 73. Ishioka will well be remembered for her previous work, and worthy of nomination for that which she did with Mirror Mirror.
Outfitting a fantastical world such as Singh has created in Mirror Mirror must have been an arduous task for even such a talent as Ishioka; she more than managed. Julia Roberts' The Queen shines, literally, in her golden dresses and ornate stitching. The dresses she wears are larger-than-life, and fit perfectly in the highly stylized world of the film. The luscious colors stand out against even the hyperbolic and large-scale production design, with their details catching the camera's eye perfectly and playing off the light. The exceptional work of Ishioka does not stop with The Queen, she lends her skill to creating costumes for all of the characters. Lily Collins' Snow White sweetness is perfectly matched to her grown-up-girl in somewhat doll-styled clothing choices. When she puts her gold cape on it is a marvelous shimmer of color and ornate beauty. Armie Hammer's Prince Charming gets the blunt of the joke with his costuming, appearing often in undergarments that may be of the plain variety but made eccentric by their sizing and placement. Same goes for man-servant Renbock (Robert Emms) who has the unfortunate task of wearing a corset.
If the wow factor does not catch you in Mirror Mirror straight away from the costuming, the costume ball scene surely will. Tarsem Singh appears to have an inclination towards headdresses, and/or wigs and hats. They are all put to use in Mirror Mirror and look spectacular. The Marie Antoinette style wigs are superbly outrageous, and the costumes themselves unbelievable in their embellishments. One will not quickly forget The Queen's peacock ensemble, or the very sexualized placement of the feathers over her chest. Snow White is dazzling in her white swan outfit, a costume fit for a pure and sweet princess, that just happens to have a very phallic headdress. Nathan Lane's Brighton makes an appearance as a cockroach, or perhaps an ant--either way, it is a ghastly costume to wear but benefits the comedic tone of the entire film. The costume ball scene almost outshines the rest of the costume design, until you see more and more pieces appear on screen with different characters and realize Mirror Mirror's Ishioka took a bold approach to outfitting the characters and it fits perfectly with the film's tone, accentuates the production design, and gives an entirely new meaning to the fairy tale imagination.
March 30, 2012