After offering directorial duties to filmmaker Tarsem Singh early last month, Relativity Media has nabbed their man and convinced Singh to sign on the dotted line and direct the upcoming 'The Brothers Grimm: Snow White.' This is just one of three Snow White films in the works -- yes, THREE -- each of which has a bit of a spin. We've got 'Snow White and the Huntsman,' which will see the pale princess running off with the huntsman Tom Hardy and going into hiding to avoid the killer queen (possibly Charlize Theron). Disney is also revisiting its material with 'Snow White and the Seven,' with the dwarves hanging up their one-word personalities and becoming Shaolin fighting monks (no joke, and in the works since 2005).
And finally there's Snow White as seen by the Brothers Grimm -- the grandfathers of modern fairy tales, before the horror and carnage were stripped away. Though similar to the Disney incarnation we all remember, back in the day the evil was a lot more defined. The Queen dined on what she thought were Snow White's internal organs, and the prince fell in love with the seemingly dead girl, and being a creepy necrophiliac, begged the dwarves for the coffin so that he could stare at the still-beautiful dead girl for the rest of his days. "Let me have it as a gift, for I cannot live without seeing Snow White. I will honor and prize her as my dearest possession."
With three twists in the works, it seems like none of these projects could become our dearest possession, opting to oversaturate us rather than inspire us. But with Singh at the helm of Grimm's story, this is the version to keep an eye on, because his history of storytelling, visuals and sweet darkness are perfect for the material.
Though his resume is quite small -- he has only three credits to his name, 'The Cell, 'The Fall' and 'Immortals' -- his work is very distinct. Singh is inspired by highly imaginative storytelling -- as much about the act of relaying the story as the story itself -- and he merges reality with extravagantly epic scenes and twists. 'The Cell' took the usual killer hunt and pushed it into the mind, an FBI agent having to traverse a serial killer's comatose thoughts to try and save his last victim. 'The Fall' took the story of an injured stuntman and a young orphan both hospitalized, who travel beyond their confines through stories of mythical heroes who weave in and out of imagination and history. And with his upcoming 'Immortals,' Singh looks towards Theseus battling the Titans, opting to remove the human barrier to his whimsy and delve straight into the epic nature of a story passed through time.
With 'Snow White,' Singh has the opportunity to dig into this long storytelling tradition once again, while having the added bonus of knowing how its morphed and rested in the public consciousness all these years later. He can either play on those conventions or subvert them.
Written by Melisa Wallack, who only has the sarcastic comedy 'Bill' to her name, there is not much to muse about script-wise, through NY Magazine claims that sources say her script is the best of the trio, and considering Singh's involvement, there must be a nice framework to sculpt.
Far from a one-trick filmmaker, Singh is even more known for his visuals than for his love of storytelling. It's easy to remember Jennifer Lopez channeling Cleopatra in a sexy yet menacing pose, Vincent D'Onofrio with horns and the rest of the overtly theatrical and epic stagings that intermingle highly artistic makeup (which earned them an Oscar nomination), costumes and sets. 'The Fall' extended that even further, with every scene becoming visually larger than life. Rather than employing the usual CGI that looks impressive, but imaginary, Singh used real locations to evoke the sense of real-life grandeur.
Singh has fun mixing the whimsy and beauty, which is just what a production like 'Snow White' needs. It becomes more than a reiteration, as worthy for its desire to be Grimm as for its look. By evoking a real visual sense of reality, he can increase the menace -- moving the story away from the creaking cartoon old lady handing over that poisoned apple, and into something with actual danger and chills.
And, with a lush trailer, Singh can attract an audience well beyond the prince and princess contingent.
This third aspect binds the two and makes Singh the best choice for the film. Though there is always a distinct sense of whimsy in his work, Singh knows how to intermingle that bright fervor with the darkness. 'The Fall' isn't just the story of a young girl listening to one man's wild stories. It's the story of a man desperate to die, who bribes a child with his imagination rather than candy or money. It's a chilling idea that has its gut-wrenching moments, but never drowns in them.
This ability to handle both the sweetness and the despair will allow 'Snow White' to fulfill both the romantic fantasy and the dangerous and deadly menace that fuels the story forward. And, we hope, create a cinematic experience that transcends genre barriers.