Category Archives: The Snow Queen

Comparative “Snow Queen” Film Discussion: Part 1

For the most part, I think the Russian film version of “The Snow Queen” is a great movie.  It has nice visuals, wonderful music, and many surprising twists and turns.  Many of the characters are very well depicted, including the robber girl, who is one of my favorites.  She’s funny, just like she’s supposed to be, as well as nasty and troublesome.  In any version of “The Snow Queen,” I love how the she is mean, naughty, and captures Gerda to be her playmate. I also, however, love how Gerda’s story helps her find her heart and help her new playmate.  This shows how powerfully stories can influence people.  Among other things, they can teach the true meaning of friendship, just like they do for the robber girl.  I think they depicted her very well in this film version, but I wish they had let her good heart show a little more.

Besides the robber girl, my other favorite part of the original story is the evil mirror created by a hobgoblin that makes everything ugly when you look through it.  In the original story, it is a shard of this very mirror getting into his eye that causes Kay to stop loving all the wonderful things around him.  In this film version, however, it is the Snow Queen’s kiss that does this; the mirror does not exist at all.  I really wish it did.  When I saw the evil man in the movie, I really hoped he would turn out to be the hobgoblin who creates the mirror.   I was waiting for this to be revealed when he promised his revenge on the kids and their grandmother for not letting him by their flowers, but it never happened.  He was, however, behind most of the bad things that happen in the movie.  This I liked, even though it might have some unfortunate implications, since I thought he was a genuinely interesting and captivating character.

Even though I was disappointed that the evil mirror is not in this version of the story, I understand it is a difficult concept to portray in film, especially since it is not described very vividly in the original story.  Since it is difficult, I think it is much more desirable for a film director who doesn’t think he or she can portray it well to not portray it at all, rather than try to but fail.  This is what happens in other film versions of the story, including a BBC version starring Sydney White and an animated version by Gareth Williams.

In the Gareth Williams version, the movie opens with the hobgoblin creating the mirror.  This part is appropriate enough, since that is how the original story opens, too.  It is completely ruined, however , by how the hobgoblin is portrayed.  He is a cartoony, cackling, monster, which not at all fits the type of villain he is.  Since he creates a mirror that makes all beautiful things look ugly, he should be more similar to the mean guy in the Russian version; a no-nonsense person who hates all things light-hearted.  This movie convinced me even more that this character should have been the hobgoblin in the Russian version.

In the BBC version, Gerda finds out about the mirror early on when she is in the palace, but her knowledge of it does nothing to help her save Kay.  When she gets to the Snow Queen’s palace, all she has to do is shed a tear on Kay’s face, and that destroys the mirror shard.  Defeating evil should never be that easy in stories, but when it is, the characters shouldn’t be given information that doesn’t even help!  I have yet to see a film or literary version of “The Snow Queen” portraying the goblin and mirror well, but I seriously hope I do someday.  If I don’t, I just might have to write my own literary version!

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Filed under Hans Christian Andersen, The Snow Queen