An inspiring and intoxicating mix of the old and the new, Blancanieves – a Spanish black-and-white silent that takes the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White fable and flips it and spins it, wondrously – snuck into the Ritz Five last week. If you loved how the Oscar-winning The Artist celebrated the spirit and technique of vintage Silent Era classics, you’ll love Blancanieves even more so. Pablo Berger’s playful but perceptive gem is set in 1920s Seville, and tells the tale of Carmen (Sofia Oria as a child, Macarena Garcia as a woman), raised by her wicked stepmother (Maribel Verdú, of Pan's Labyrinth and Y Tu Mama Tambien fame) and then cast out, presumed killed. But of course Carmen, aka Blancanieves, isn’t dead. Instead, she takes up with a wandering band of dwarf toreadors, learning to fight bulls. Carmen becomes a star, in fact, in the bullring, which doesn’t make her old stepmom very happy.
Dreamy and surreal, gorgeously shot, with a rich and compelling score from composer Alfonso de Vilallonga, Blancanieves pays homage to the Golden Age of European cinema, and revels in the dark magic of fairy tales. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. Four stars out of four stars, it is easily among the year's best films.