CINEMA Grim watching
A weave of Grimm fairy tales whose characters feature in each other’s stories, this film, despite its star cast, is often boring
in each other’s tales, and fairy-tale morality is quite stripped away.
Cinderella’s Prince Charming (Pine) is a predatory lecher who cheats on her with others. Experience (for which “the woods” are a stand-in) is dark and misted over with lust, greed, jealousy and recurrent hatreds. A wolfish Depp is the Wolf.
One Grimm folk tale excised from the movie is Sleeping Beauty (whom, on stage, Prince Charming charms and ravishes). Perhaps such an expanded scenario would have made the film altogether too complex for most of us (including children) for whom childhood is unwarrantably protected from the stories’ horrors. We’ve seen that before in The Little Mermaid, whose intense suffering and ultimate death has been redacted on screen.
To the swollen cast one must add Jack (Huttlestone) and his magical Beanstalk, which serves to introduce one of a number of objects that the Witch (Streep) is seeking for evil purposes. (Her performance is clearly reminiscent of Maleficent.) Another is the brilliant, blood-coloured cape of Red Riding Hood, which, when ripped from her, enacts a rape scene. The violation and enslavement of children is a powerful motif.
That the kisses shared between Prince Charming and a strange woman (Blunt, married to a baker, Corden) are not simply screen dabs but genuflect towards a full-blown affair is another cinematic hint that the Corden and Streep The baker and the witch on the quest to reverse a curse