WTW 004 : Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs
WORTH THE WATCH
WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
The 14th of February has gained an increasingly polarized reputation over the last few years. While it is marketed as a day of love and romance, the “holiday” is not loved by everyone. Many see the commercialization that has consumed it and feel it has evolved into a stressful and vain consumer’s day. Having said all that I have a movie to recommend to the jaded yet mushy: “Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs”. The 2019 Lionsgate animated film on the surface is a Romance but as you get into the film you find that it’s actually more so about vanity, obsession, and self love.
We all know the story of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" which originally is a Grimm’s brother’s tale. This film puts a spin on Snow White’s story by also incorporating parts from a less popular brother's grimm tale called “The Red Shoes”. In Snow White, the main character is a vain queen who gets consumed by her jealousy of her step daughter. For those who don't know, “Red Shoes” is about A vain little girl who is gifted a pair of red shoes and wears them everywhere. She becomes too prideful of them though so one day she is cursed to dance in them. She dies dancing in those shoes, bloody and stuck to her feet. “Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs” does not take the same creepy route but instead puts a light and sweet spin on a coupled rendition of the two tales.
The surface story of “Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs” is that a King falls for a Witch named Regina who secretly has a mirror that feeds off of people. He notices that people in his kingdom are going missing and that the mirror has grown into a large and ominous tree. Desperate to rid his kingdom from Regina and her mirror tree, he sends his daughter, Snow White, to seek out help from 7 warrior princes known as the “Fearless Seven”. Snow White, in this film, is a plus sized woman who finds an alluring pair of red shoes. She puts them on and they curse her with "beauty". When she sets off to find the seven princes we discover that they’ve also been cursed and are now green dwarfs. Snow and the dwarf princes must overcome their curses in order to work together and free the kingdom of Regina and her mirror tree.
This movie initially received harsh, negative feedback online with allegations of fat shaming. After watching the film and checking a few resources though I’ve found this was a misunderstanding intentionally caused as a marketing campaign to get people to watch the film. We all know the saying “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. To quite the contrary of the marketing ploy, the Snow White in this film knows she’s a big girl and is comfortable with her body and size. She’s aware that the majority of the people in her society devalue women who are her size but she doesn’t feed into the standard of beauty set in her kingdom.
The focus of the film is to affirm the notion that obsession with vanity is destructive. This is the theme that rings through Grimm’s "The Red Shoes" and "Snow White". The red shoes that Snow White puts on her feet represent curiosity, desire, temptation, and vanity. She initially puts them on by mistake but once they're on and she sees herself in a petite frame for the first time in her life she’s unable to take the shoes off. Throughout the film Snow reluctantly accepts the benefits of her newfound skinny privilege while struggling to maintain a sense of value for her real body type. The seven princes, who get cursed for being vain, spend the film learning that life isn’t just about looks and appeal. They each have to learn in their own way that they are dimensional and that there’s more to them than their fame and “charming” looks. Each main character in the story is given a moment of reflection and an opportunity for growth and this is vital to the film being successful.
“Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs”is successful in the sense that it conveys it’s intended message. It does leave a lot to be desired though. The villain in this film, Regina, isn’t the real villain at all. I wholeheartedly believe she’s an earth elemental witch who found a cursed mirror that feeds on narcissism. The mirror is the actual villain and uses Regina as a medium to become powerful. It fed and amplified her vanity until she was consumed by it. This is made clear by that fact that Regina is not particularly malicious, clever, or powerful. Her only motivation is eternal youth, yet the mirror is the one one that really benefited from Regina wreaking havoc on this kingdom. Her design has nothing noteworthy about it except that she honestly looks a little too much like Mother Gothel from Disney’s 2010 “Tangled”. The main villain is as crucial as the main character. The film could have swapped out some of the silly, fun scenes to create a stronger development for the Mirror and his henchwoman Regina.
The design of the wooden Rabbit that accompanied Merlin through the film.
The design of the mirror and his climatic but short lived scene.
Snow White complaining that she used to be able to bench press 200lbs, but now her skinny limbs are too "dainty”.
Overall Score: 7/10
Best Quote from Film: "Ah, an apple. The most suspicious of fruit."