Julia Roberts stars as the evil Queen Clementianna in Mirror Mirror, a new adaptation of the original fairy tale Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. At first glance it is easy to draw comparisons with Disney’s 1937 Snow White, however director Tarsem Singh has added his own twist to this well loved tale.
The story is retold through the eyes of the wicked queen and she states that this is her story and not Snow White’s. Julia Roberts’ portrayal of the antagonist is entertaining yet at times very sinister. The “magic mirror” is not in the traditional style but appears as a portal to another realm which represents her madness and cruelty towards her step daughter, Snow White (Lily Collins). It appears to be a denial of the Queen’s own conscience; “I am after all merely a reflection of you”.
The film retains the original concept of the classic tale – the Queen blinded by her vanity orders her beautiful step daughter to be killed, she escapes, finds her way to seven dwarves and meets a handsome prince (Armie Hammer).
The movie touches on the same motifs as the original narrative. There is a kiss that will break a spell, a poisoned apple and an enchanted mirror, yet they could have been utilised better to add to the overall plot. At times, it seems they have been included only because these elements are what one would expect to see in a retelling of Snow White.
Interestingly, the dwarves are not miners but thieves having turned to crime due to the corruption of the kingdom by Queen Clementianna. There are some fun references to the Disney classic, particularly when one dwarf notes: “it’s better than working down a mine.”
Mirror Mirror retains a “fairy tale” atmosphere with outlandish costumes, beautiful scenery and childlike humour yet while the presentation is near flawless the execution doesn’t hit the mark as much as one would expect.
Mirror Mirror has all the key ingredients for the classic story; apples, magic and a true love’s first kiss, yet it appears that Tarsem Singh has wanted to give it his own flavour but has not been able to fully divert from the original narrative, relying on it when things get slow.