In Review: Blancanieves on DVD (Collector’s Edition)

by Maryann O'Connor on 08/08/2013


After the recent flurry of Snow White films you might be thinking that we probably don’t need another one. Or maybe you’re surprised that someone would attempt to make a Spanish, black & white silent version. Blancanieves is a big breath of fresh air, a joy that would bejewel anyone’s DVD collection.

As the credits roll, the swell of an orchestra warming up surrounds your ears, setting the scene for the film to come. We are in 1920s Spain, backstage to a Seville bullfight, watching the famous matador being dressed for his next showdown, watching his delicate cloth-covered buttons being pulled through their holes and marvelling at the rich fabric of his outfit, however silly you may think that bullfighting was. The subsequent fight did not go the way the matador planned, ending with him being gored by the bull and the shock sending his love, Carmen, into premature labour. The child survives but she does not and the matador cannot bear to be in the same room as Carmen, as the girl child was named.

She spends the next while being brought up by her grandmother, while her heartbroken and body-broken father marries his nurse – the evil stepmother comeths. Eventually Carmen has to come and live with her father and stepmother, her stepmother kindly banishing her to the cellar room and keeping her busy with backbreaking tasks until her father eventually dies and she is sent off to be murdered, à la Snow White. One of the bullfighting siete enanitos (seven dwarves) gives her the kiss of life and she joins their troop, hanging back on the sidelines until eventually she steps into the ring herself.

This is an excellent take on the famous story: the cinematography is sumptuous, the score is beautiful and you won’t miss the spoken word. Both the young Carmen (Sofia Oria) and slightly older one (Macarena Garcia) are captivating and the stepmother (Maribel Verdu) is gloriously pantomime in her evilness.

Extras: The only extra worth speaking of is a short documentary on the making of Blancanieves and the inspiration behind it. The doc is about 30 minutes long and extremely illuminating on the task of making a b&w silent film; the focus on contrasts, detail of expression and the importance of the music. Director Pablo Berger and producers thoroughly [but entertainingly] discuss the contribution they hoped to make with Blancanieves.

Blancanieves is traditional and yet very modern at the same time, building anticipation of similarly visionary silent films to come.

Maryann has awarded Blancanieves on DVD (Collector’s Edition) five Torches of Truth

5 torches


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue November 23, 2013 at 17:24

can anyone tell me if the Collectors Edition shows English subtitles when Spanish captions are used.?


Maryann O'Connor November 25, 2013 at 13:46

We will have a check and get back to you!


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