Director: Tarsem Singh
Nominated: Costume Design
Of the two films revolving around Snow White to be released in 2012, both of which are nominated in the Costume Design category, Mirror Mirror is by far the more fantastical of them. However fantastical is not necessarily a good thing here, I find Mirror Mirror quite ridiculous and much prefer Snow White and the Huntsman (2012, Rupert Sanders).
Julia Roberts is excellent as the maniacal queen hell-bent on remaining the fairest of them all, with the added complication of having frittered away her entire fortune. Her frivolous appearance belies the core of strength and maliciousness that hides within her. Roberts is by far the stand out performance of the entire film and actually pretty much the only thing that kept me watching. She balances out the manic quality of her character with the mirror reflection – she is much calmer and more in control. I love the opening, telling the back-story through puppets, narrated sardonically by the queen.
The costumes are divine and sublimely ridiculous perfectly in keeping with the tone of the film. Extremely rich colours and textures, befitting the royal status, while the dwarfs have a more rugged and lived in quality to their costumes. Very cleverly designed trousers, effectively accordions, elevate the dwarfs to a more normal stature. The costume party held in honor of the prince is the very height of ridiculousness, with Snow wearing a swan on her head. And yet at the same time the design is gorgeous and cleverly creates recognisable animal costumes, including a tortoise, a bug and most impressively a walrus. Armie still manages to look dashing dressed as a bunny, with ears erupting from his top hat. There’s a period feel to the costumes, all enormous hoop skirts and corsets for the men and morning coats and wigs for the men. Recurring motif of feathers utilised in the costumes for he queen. Also used in the designs of the queens chambers.
Armie hammer as the prince is pretty vapid and somewhat useless – repeatedly falling foul of the band of dwarfs. He certainly looks princely and has the vanity and sense of entitlement down to a tee. His valet, Robert Emms, is by far the more switched on of the two. And he definitely has the right take on the queen, immediately seeing the crazy that radiates from her.
Lily Collins is just too sickly sweet and vapid for me to really like or connect with. Even though she eventually leads the rebellion against the queen to retake her kingdom there is still this sense that she is passive. She just doesn’t come across as a warrior princess, which is what they are trying to portray her as.
I like the fact that the dwarfs are actually played by dwarfs, rather than merely being the body doubles for the regular sized actors. They each have their own unique characteristics and style, yet stays well away from those made iconic in the animated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, William Cottrell) I think out of all of them Wolf has the best costume, the skin of a Wolf with the head turned into a hood and I love the fact he eschews a blade or gun in favour of a club carved into the shape of a wolf head. However Butcher, Martin Klebba, is my favourite, by far the grumpiest of the company. They have excellent camaraderie forming something of a dysfunctional family. There’s en easy banter between them all.
I have no issue with redefining a well-known story but I do have problems when that process results in the loss of the iconic images or elements that make up the story (much like the new Bond films but on get me started on that!) for instance there is no bite of the apple in Mirror Mirror and Snow doesn’t fall into a magically induced sleep. And the kiss is one Snow bestows on the Prince to break the spell he is under instead – turning the viewers expectations on their heads.