Fairytale: Story of the Seven Dwarves is not a straight-up reboot of the original Snow White classic, it’s more of a contemporary re-imagining that spins its own yarn.
Although Snow White makes a brief appearance (as an overly-entitled celebutante), the role of ‘slumbering Princess awaiting her true love’s kiss’ is filled by the blonde-haired Princess Rose, whom we don’t really see too often. As her role in the story is relegated to being a necessary anchor for the plot, the real focus is on the seven dwarves themselves.
Happy? Grumpy? Bashful?
With names like Bobo, Cooky and Ralphy, these are not the characters you might remember watching as a child, but all the main archetypes are represented here. Together, they embark on a quest to thwart the evil witch Dellamorta, who wants to rule the kingdom by putting a curse on the King’s daughter, etc.
This all sounds pretty bad on paper, but somehow manages to create its own individual identity. For instance, Dellamorta is portrayed as the prototypical nefarious villain, complete with raspy cackle, purple skin and constant trilling of her R’s. Much like the evil Ysma from Emperor’s New Groove, Dellamorta’s devilishness is amped up to eleven and in doing so, she becomes a kind of self-parody that creates much of the film’s humour. There are also some great references and fun cameos to the original Snow White and other fairytale characters throughout the film’s first act.
The dwarves themselves are a bumbling bunch, which makes their heroics a lot funnier, even though none of them are individually that memorable. The silliness is rounded out with the revelation that Dellamorta’s Dragon has secret dreams of being a tap dancer and turns against his master. It was at this point that I began to wonder whether straying from the source material was the best decision.
Whilst this is fundamentally a new story in its own right, comparisons to the original Snow White are inevitable and reveal the chinks in Fairytale: Story of the Seven Dwarves’ armour. The villain of Snow White was incredibly sinister, but this has been lost in the contemporary translation. The princess herself was also utterly unforgettable, but Princess Rose adds nothing new to the canon.
Snow White’s Dwarves were similar in many respects to the re-imagined version, but their rich characterisation there has been reduced down to a team of heroes that are perfectly likable, but seem to lack that X factor that made the original cast so compelling.
But we do live in the modern world after all and comparisons to the past rarely do service to what’s in front of us. Plus, no eight year-old is going to sit down and complain that the reboot doesn’t reach the impossibly high standards of the original. Indeed, stickling over details and perhaps a few missed opportunities doesn’t account for the fact that this is a well-produced and funny children’s adventure film, even if some of the finer details are glossed over.
Fairytale: Story of the Seven Dwarves is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.