About a week and a half ago, the movie Snow White and the Huntsman came up in my Netlix queue. I’ve been interested in seeing this movie since I first saw the movie’s trailer. The reason for my interest is that I’ve been fascinated by the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm since my days taking German Literature in college. One of my projects was to translate “Schneewittchen”, the original “Snow White”, from German into English. The movie looked interesting because I thought it might capture some of the flavor of the original Grimm fairy tale.
In that particular sense, I was not disappointed. The movie did, in fact, capture many of the darker aspects of the original tale. The wicked queen’s seduction of Snow White’s father was there. I was impressed because it’s an aspect only discussed in the Grimms’ notes which accompany the story. The dwarven miners seemed like they would be more at home in The Lord of the Rings than in a Disney movie. Snow White herself was hardly an innocent victim. All of this was very much in keeping with the original version of the tale.
Unfortunately, the movie suffers from lackluster acting and I felt the script could have used another draft or two before production. Despite that, one thing I found especially interesting was the vampiric nature of Queen Ravenna—the wicked queen of this story. She literally sucks the life out of people to stay young.
Thing is, I have long been struck by a certain vampiric quality in the original Grimm fairy tale. However, I attributed the vampire qualities to Snow White herself. After all, she dies when she bites the poisoned apple and is placed in a glass coffin. She’s resurrected when the prince’s guards drop the coffin, knocking the slice of poisoned apple from her throat! Snow White herself then goes on to dispatch the wicked queen by making her dance to death in a pair of red-hot iron shoes. Yes, the original is hardly Disney material.
As it turns out, I had a little fun exploring these and other vampire-like attributes of Snow White in a retelling I did for the collection Blood Sampler. In this version, the princess literally is a vampire who resurrects herself from the death-like slumber by feasting on the handsome prince, then going on a killing rampage. I found it interesting how little this fractured version of the fairy tale actually differed from the original. These kinds of exercises actually can be rather beneficial to a writer. They allow the writer to see how few steps their hero is from being a villain and what lines they would or wouldn’t cross.
For those who prefer a more straight-ahead take on Snow White, my original translation of the story is published in volume 2, issue 2 of Tales of the Talisman. Copies can be ordered here: http://www.talesofthetalisman.com/bookstore-v2.html. In this version, she’s not a vampire, but I do include her origin as described in the notes by the Grimm Brothers and I also include all three attempts the queen makes on her life. (The poisoned apple was just the one that worked the best!)
Here’s hoping all your fairy tales have happy endings!