Astrology: Film: ‘Blancanieves’ (2013)

Cohen Media

Blancanieves is Spanish screenwriter and director Pablo Berger’s nod to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, “Snow White.” Berger revisions the story as a black and white silent movie with sparse use of intertitles, setting it Seville in the 1920’s and making the ceremony, ritual, beauty and gore of bullfighting a torrid vibrant character in its own right.

Against all odds and in stark contrast with the movie’s stunning monochromatic color palette –  cinematographer is Kiko de la Rica – Blancanieves is a paean to the Sun. That archetype, with its allusions to the father, creative generation, and guidance, is personified here by Antonio Villalta (Daniel Gimenez Cacho).

Antonio, a famous wealthy bullfighter, lets down his guard just long enough to usher in tragedy. He tips his matador’s cap to his pregnant wife, who’s cheering in the stands. The bull gores him and the injury results in his paralysis, an incident which evokes the myth of the Fisher King and the loss of male potency. To make things impossibly worse – the way fairy tales are wont to do – his wife dies in childbirth. The offspring, Carmen (Sofia Oria), is raised by her grandmother (Angela Molina), while wheelchair-bound Antonio is tended to by his hellishly cruel new wife Encarna (Maribel Verdu), his former (and gold-digging) nurse.

Grandmother teaches the girl her mother’s flamenco-dancing artistry. But it’s the Sun – a deeper and more overt self-expression – that Carmen wants: her wish, before taking her First Communion, is to see her father. It’s not until Carmen is sent to live with Encarna – who has essentially removed Antonio from any worldly contact – that the father emotionally revivifies through clandestine meetings with his daughter.

The constant presence of the child’s pet rooster Pepe– the traditional herald of dawn, light and hope – teases that this father-daughter reconnection might restore the Solar male birthright for both of them. No such luck. In fact, the girl’s living quarters are the light-deprived basement.

Years pass, and the older Carmen (Macarena Garcia) survives Encarna’s attempt on her life and is saved by a group of bullfighting dwarves who rechristen her Snow White. Will they, amidst one dwarf’s unspoken love and another’s festering hatred and jealousy, be instrumental in helping her reclaim her father’s legacy and her own Solar gifts?

In the end, the movie is about a fated life and the grace sought and given to embrace destiny. This regenerative depiction, culminating in enlightenment and light, even in death, is something Blancanieves has in spades. Unforgettable.

Astrology Film Rating: ☉ (Sun)

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