The director is Pablo Berger, who created the downbeat satire Torremolinos 73. He finds new life and heart in the old Snow White tale – certainly more than the recent Hollywood retreads – and daringly locates possibilities for both evil and romance in the ranks of the dwarves themselves. Carmen (Macarena García) is the beautiful daughter of Antonio Villalta (Daniel Giménez Cacho), a once dashingly handsome bullfighter, now a widower and invalid, who is bullied into getting remarried to his suggestively named nurse Encarna, a gaunt schemer played by Maribel Verdú, squeezing every drop of villainy from the part. Berger creates a macabre household and shows how its bizarre conventions and institutionalised cruelty camouflage her own exotic tastes. After this stepmother’s bungled murder plan, Carmen is discovered in the wood by a travelling band of bullfighting dwarves, rechristened Snow White and recruited (there are six of them, she brings the troupe up to the magic seven), as they discover her sensational talent for bullfighting. The gladiatorial scenes in the bullring are superbly good, and Berger takes inspiration from Hitchcock, with hints of Rebecca and Psycho, Buñuel, Browning and Almodóvar, and conjures a fascinatingly ambiguous ending: melancholy, eerie and erotic. A film to treasure.
Venue: William Loveless Hall