Once upon a time as a queen sits sewing at her window, she pricks her finger on her needle and three drops of blood fall on the snow that had fallen on her ebony window frame.
As she looks at the blood on the snow, she says to herself, "Oh, how I wish that I had a daughter that had skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony.”
Soon after that, the queen gives birth to a baby girl who has skin white as snow, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. They name her Princess Snow White. As soon as the child is born, the queen dies.
"Snow White" is a well-known fairytale, famously noted down by the Brothers Grimm in 1812, and adapted many times since.
In each version, the story centres on a princess whose stepmother the Queen is jealous of her beauty. Each will feature Snow White as fair skinned, with the darkest of dark hair, as well as the dwarfs that offer her shelter; the all-seeing mirror on the wall; and the dreaded poisonous apple.
Probably the best-known version to today’s audiences, is the classic 1937 animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. As with all Disney adaptations, however, some liberties were taken with the story to ensure that it didn’t scare the children witless.
For example, elements of the Brothers Grimm version that were omitted from the Disney tale include the Queen’s insistence that the huntsman bring back Snow White’s lungs and liver, and the heated irons that the Queen is forced to dance in for punishment.
With two new adaptations being released this year – Mirror, Mirror starring Julia Roberts and Snow White and the Huntsman starring Kristen Stewart – it will be interesting to see the path that is taken by each.
Will they walk the tried and tested trail, or will they try to break new ground with this beloved fairytale?
In the meantime, here is a run-down of some of the famous depictions of Snow White – which is your favourite?
Lily Collins as Snow White in Mirror, Mirror (2012):
Kristen Stewart as Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsman:
The depiction of Snow White in Shrek the Third (2007):
Sarah Patterson in the 1987 fantasy film Snow White:
Snow White a la Disney (1937):
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