“Mirror Mirror” Offers
Fractured Fairy Tale
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My late friend Dr. Bruno Bettelheim wrote in “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales” that “only on repeated hearing of a fairy tale … is a child able to profit fully from what the story has to offer him in regard to understanding himself and his experience of the world.”
So director Tarsem Singh (“Immortals,” “The Cell”) is going to tell you the Snow White story again, this time in a movie called “Mirror Mirror.”
This cinematic version is currently enchanting audiences at the Tropic Cinema.
You know how it goes – kinda. A wicked sorceress schemes to steal the throne from a raven-haired beauty known as Snow White. Banished to the forest, the young girl falls in with a rebellious band of little people (the Seven Dwarves) who transform her into a battle-ready princess capable of winning back the kingdom from the conniving queen. And along the way she meets a handsome prince.
Oscar-winner Julia Roberts (“Erin Brockovich”) portrays Queen Clementianna as being more insecure than evil. Lily Collins (“The Blind Side”) – she’s the daughter of musician Phil Collins – plays Snow White. And chisel-chin Army Hammer (“J. Edgar”) joins them as the prince.
In addition to the prerequisite seven diminutive actors, Nathan Lane, Sean Bean, and Mare Winningham round out cast.
Don’t confuse this movie with the forthcoming “Snow White and the Huntsman,” starring Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, and Chris Hemsworth. Fairy tales are all the rage. Remember last year’s “Red Riding Hood” with Amanda Seyfried. And those recent TV shows, “Once Upon A Time” and “Grimm.”
Austrian-born child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim believed that fairy tales are essential for the mental health of children. Later on, Persian-born psychiatrist-neurologist Nossrat Peseschkian applied the same criteria to adults. Peseschkian points out how a story holds up a mirror to you. You observe the characters of the story objectively from a safe distance, able to recognize traits that apply to yourself.
“Mirror Mirror,” as the movie’s title says.
Bettelheim postulated that fairy tales function similarly to dreams. “As we wake up refreshed from our dream, better able to meet the tasks of reality, so the fairy story ends with the hero returning, or being returned to the real world, much better able to master life,” he wrote.
Movies serve a similar purpose in my estimation, a dreamlike storytelling medium that allows us to work through the unconscious pressures of our lives.
When my wife and I worked in the pressure-cooker publishing world in New York, we found that a good action movie on Friday night allowed us to clear our heads, put our tough workweek behind us, and escape to a flickering world where heroes survived and bad guys got their due. Thus we didn’t have to go to work on Monday morning with automatic weapons. Or poison apples.