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InsideFMM | July 29, 2015

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Snow White and The Huntsman: The Dark Side of Beauty

Last week, Universal Pictures kicked the entertainment marketing for its upcoming feature release, Snow White and The Huntsman, into high gear, releasing new trailers and extended video previews. Over here at FMM, we could not be more excited.

Well, if we found Louboutin on sale or got a ridiculously perfect massage… but I digress. Not only does this film look dark, lovely and entertaining, but also it explores something that we in the fashion industry don’t often get to talk about: the dark side of beauty.

A true fairy tale

Unlike the whimsical comedy Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is a dark romantic drama in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm. The evil queen in scary. Snow White is in real danger of being killed. People fight and die.

“I think the great thing about Snow White is those images have scarred me since I was a child with the Queen, the mirror, the taking of the heart, the huntsman and the enchanted forest,” said Rupert Sanders, director of SWATH. “So really, my goal was to re-appropriate those myths and those symbolic devices. Each of those ideas is so deeply psychologically embedded and that’s why the stories have lasted so long. People still have a thirst for them internationally. So it was a great opportunity to go back to that source material and create something very new and contemporary with it but in keeping with the Grimm’s fairytale version of it.”

Even if you don’t remember it, you’ve probably been exposed to the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. They are certainly not rated “G.” Back then, stories for kids were very different: they used creepy stories to scare kids into good behavior. For example, the message behind Hansel and Gretel would be “don’t walk alone in the forest or an old woman will cook you and eat you for dinner.” The result? Kids stayed out of the forest.

Beauty’s dirty little secret

I was drawn to fashion by a love of art and a desire to bring more beauty into my life, but there is certainly a dark side to the commercial fashion and beauty industries. We just don’t talk about it. In 2007, however, Ogilvy & Mather created a video for Dove called “Onslaught” that shows the dark side of the beauty industry by simply contextualizing advertisements.

The juxtaposition of a truly beautiful and natural child against the ads promising to sculpt the female form into something more beautiful, groomed and sophisticated is expressing the same conflict you see in Snow White and the Huntsman—a mature woman (in this case, an evil queen) using witchcraft and spells to make herself more beautiful than the young, natural and pure of heart Snow White.

As a woman over 30, I can totally relate to the desire to find some sort of magic spell to preserve my physical appearance as long as possible. When I think about all of my facials and face creams and juice fasts, suddenly the Evil Queen doesn’t seem so evil. In fact, I understand that she represents an extreme version of what all women experience as they grow older.

entertainment marketing snow white

The beauty of the evil queen

Now I’m fascinated by the evil queen and the “lesson” that this tale aims to tell about mature women trying to hold onto their youth by any means necessary. One reason that I understand how a woman could go off the deep end with the desire to remain young is that it’s not just about getting older: it’s also about avoiding death. Sanders was acutely aware of these psychological issues when developing the script, and actress Charlize Theron made an effort to humanize her character, while, of course, playing a creepy, fairy tale villain.

“I don’t think anyone’s born pure evil,” said Saunders. “Things happen to them growing up that make them who they are and I think that’s very true with her back story that you see later in the film. She’s a very disturbed character who’s desperately got to find this heart because she needs to live forever. It’s as simple as that. Her evil comes because of how distorted the character has become. So she plays it very real and I think that’s really the success of the character. She’s incredible to watch.”

What would you to to stay young and beautiful forever? What do you think of the evil queen?

disclosure: Universal Studios is a client and this a project of our company.

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