Who would have thought that a black-and-white silent movie could look so ravishing, or that Snow White, Walt Disney’s pink-cheeked goody goody from his toe curlingly cute Thirties cartoon feature, could be so sexy?
If that’s not enough, there is Maribel Verdu, from Y Tu Mama Tambien and Pan’s Labyrinth, as the fashionably bitchy stepmother.
Writer/director Pablo Berger (Torremolinos 73) proves that there is always a fresh look at a stale tale, courtesy of the brothers Grimm.
He sets it in Seville in the Twenties and doesn’t linger over introductions – within 10 minutes Carmen/Snow is born, her father has been gored in the ring and her mother is dead.
Imagination rules! The dwarfs – the real thing, by the way – belong to a circus troupe.
Carmen runs away and joins them.
Her bull fighting skills add glamour to their act.
Encarna, the scheming nurse who forced Carmen’s disabled dad to remarry, never gives up – remember the poisonous apple?
This is a fight to the finish and Carmen/Snow kicks off her sheepskin slippers to get down dirty.
It would be difficult to underestimate the originality, or the delight, of this film.
It makes The Artist look safe and sentimental.