Was Snow White’s Showdown a Letdown?

Because I am in no way obsessed, but rather for the simple reason that most new visitors to this site seem to have come for commentary on Charlize Theron’s milky bathing habits, I thought I would offer a few spoiler-full remarks in support of the film’s unexpected anti-climactic ending.

First, though, let’s talk about Snow White’s rouse the troops speech.  Yes, it was awkward.  Yes, shoddy screenwriting is undoubtedly to blame.  And yet, the leading lady has been locked in a tower since childhood, and there’s no way she received a first-rate education from Young Adult’s voyeuristic brother.  Except maybe ironic visual tips on hair styling.

So of course her half-forged metaphors would make Katniss Everdeen blush with embarrassment.  Had Snow White found a Shakespearean voice after her death and resurrection, the critics may not have guffawed quite as much, but I would have scratched my head.

As for the showdown between princess and queen, I was expecting some kind of grand battle of sword and magic, but that’s not what we got.  Instead, Snow White ascended to the mirror room, gave Ravenna her best Aragorn-charging-the-orcs face, bravely advanced, and then fell to the floor a lot as Ravenna reveled in her would-be challenger’s utter lack of fighting prowess.  It was only by luck or fate or scriptwriting that Snow’s dagger entered Ravenna’s heart.

At the showing, I did find this contest too easily decided, and yet, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I like the direction Sanders and company took with this scene.  Snow White wasn’t going to defeat Ravenna with wicked swordplay or by looking fairer before the mirror.  She could believably win only by “pulling a Homer,” succeeding despite herself.

The real showdown wasn’t the fight, but the aftermath, when the Queen died slowly in terror while Snow White bore witness in pity and sorrow.  Snow White actually sounded a little disappointed that Ravenna couldn’t devour her heart, which makes sense given that she looked upon Ravenna’s rise, reign, and fall as a moral and personal tragedy that could have been otherwise.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is a freelance writer who blogs about culture, philosophy, politics, postmodernism, and religion. He is a contributor to the group Catholic blog Vox Nova. Kyle lives with his wife, son, and daughter in North Texas. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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