Thursday, August 25, 2011

Faerie Tale Theatre: The Snow Queen (1985)

Year Released: 1985
Country of Origin: United States
Run Time: 50 minutes.
How I Watched It: Youtube.

Adaptation Accuracy: First a word about Faerie Tale Theatre: From 1982 to 1987, actress Shelley Duvall produced a television series of live action fairy tale adaptations starring the celebrities of the time. It wasn't until season four when they did their version of The Snow Queen. (However, it must be said that The Snow Queen amazingly beat Cinderella and The Little Mermaid in the battle of air dates!) FTT is awesome. All the episodes are on Hulu. Check it out.

But how does The Snow Queen stack up? Pretty fucking great. This version is different from all the others because the Snow Queen (Lee Remick) is actually a benevolent character who takes Kay (Lance Kerwin) to her palace to teach him a lesson or two. Several times she states it is her function to be cold and bring winter to the world; she is not evil, she is necessary. It is quite refreshing to have the Snow Queen be more than just eeevil for the sake of being eeevil.

Meanwhile Melissa Gilbert gives us the best Gerda so far. The actress was 21 at the time of filming and I'm not quite sure how old she is supposed to be. (Often FTT cast actors far older than their roles called for. At age 30, Mary Steenburgen played Little Red Riding Hood!) Despite the age confusion, Gilbert offers us a likable and intelligent Gerda that could be eleven or sixteen.

The Princess and Prince story line is cut in favor of more time with the Witch or, in this version, the Lady of Summer (Lauren Hutton). This is the first time the Snow Queen is revealed to have another season for a sister. The tough and "streetwise" Robber Girl (Linda Manz) offers a nice contrast to humble and sweet Gerda, even if she is a little too nice to our heroine.

We get a couple of scenes of Kay actually interacting with the Snow Queen. In this version, he likes living in the cold palace even though it's slowly killing him. Kay is given several tasks during his stay with the Snow Queen. The last is a rhyming puzzle which he and Gerda solve together. The Snow Queen lets them go without conflict, which makes sense since she's been nice all along.

And finally, we may have some kind of romance going on! Kay gives Gerda a locket in the beginning and kisses her on the cheek after the journey. With the main actors in their twenties, it's hard not to press for some lovin'!

Overall Likes: Accuracy; Melissa Gilbert as Gerda; The Snow Queen's benevolence; Lady of Summer story; Robber Girl's toughness; The ending; Cheek kiss!

Overall Dislikes: No Princess and Prince; Weird Goblin wrap up.

Final Thoughts: Out of all the versions I've reviewed so far, this one is the greatest character study and has the strongest acting. Still, it loses points for omitting the Princess and Prince. If only it could have been longer...

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