Fairytales and Fearsome Art Images

Pop culture circles and the general public are buzzing about the latest upcoming big-screen version of a very scary Snow White in Snow White and The Huntsman. Poisoned apples, dark and enchanted forests, magic mirrors, and mythical creatures are all part of this particular version – with no happy songs or cute animals anywhere in sight.  This movie is laced with the stuff of nightmares and dread.

Makes sense, of course, as this is probably closest in spirit to what the Brothers Grimm had in mind. Filled with terror and trials, Princess Snow is not the squeaky clean gal living with a bunch of miner dwarves. In the upcoming movie, a smart and resourceful Snow White (played by Twilight’s Kristen Stewart) is a warrior princess, clad in armor and resembling a fierce Joan of Arc more than anything else. The evil Queen Ravenna, played with a deliciously macabre twist by the drop dead beautiful Charlize Theron (“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is fairest of them all?”  If it’s between Queen Charlize and Snow Stewart, all bets are on the Queen) is a soul-sucker, a bit vampiric.  And, naturally, there is the equally talented and ruggedly handsome Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth of Thor and The Avengers), tasked by the Queen to cut out Snow’s still-beating heart. Instead, Huntsman Eric teaches Snow White how to be a true warrior – and learn how to fight.

This movie, opening June 1, is full of classical imagery, with a universal theme of the eternal battle between light and dark – with each portrayed in its opposite. The blonde Queen embodies darkness, harkening back to old Celtic mythology, to the Morrigan/Badb/Macha, the Lady of Ravens – the Scald Crow and Queen of Battle and Death.

With a taste of the Medieval, Snow White and The Huntsman looks to be the darkest – and most enjoyable – yet.package.  Her stepdaughter, Snow White, has hair as dark as night, lips as red as blood, skin as white as snow.  At face value, she is walking darkness. But it is Snow White, the Chosen One, the One destined to break the Kingdom’s rule
of darkness, leading the people into the light. Even in previews, Snow White walks from darkness, through to the other side to an enchanted forest known as Sanctuary, bathed in light, towards a magnificent White Stag – another symbol in Celtic mythology.

And what of these fearsome images generated by nightmares and fairytales?  Writers and filmmakers are not the only ones who bring them into the light.  Painters, too, have translated their haunting and disturbing visions onto canvas. Marc Chagall is one of those artists.  His Flowers and Feathers comes close to a Snow White vision, a jumble of light and dark, bird and steed, while The Blue Circus is a cacophony of nighttime lapis overtaking hidden elements: a girl in the dark, an electric green goat, birds, and fish. Hints of light – the moon, roses, and the red of the leotard flash in the gloom.  Salvador Dali’s frightening interpretations of the unconscious landscape are also the stuff of scary tales, while Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Rousseau’s The Dream are much more ethereal than the darker undertones of either Chagall or Dali.

Whether in book or film, canvas or song, fairytales are part of the fabric of our existence, touching the most primal of fears and emotion.

About the Author

I was raised in Wichita, KS and I have been drawing and painting as long as I can remember. I paint the interior of my house according to the season and could not imagine a world without colors. I am a writer, mother, and grandmother - My motto in life has always been "Any day you wake up is going to be a good day".