For the 2013 New Zealand International Film Festival I figured I’d try and keep some kind of a review diary covering each of the 20 or so films I’m planning to see. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks.

blancanieves_carmenFirst off the rank for me this year at the NZIFF was Blancanieves, a silent, Spanish, black & white re-imagining of Snow White projected in 4:3 ratio. I can’t imagine a more festival-y start to the festival.

The story needs little explanation as, other than being set in early twentieth century Spain, not much has changed from the various versions of the story over the years going right back to the original Grimm Fairy Tale. A lot of people are probably going to compare Blancanieves to The Artist, the other recent B&W silent film of note, but really the two films share little other than the obvious technical elements.

If anything, Blancanieves feels like a more authentic tribute to the pre-sound era. It doesn’t call attention to it’s lack of talking, and many of the camera movements and stylistic flourishes feel appropriately vintage.

Choosing to tell such a familiar story without words is a smart move too, and Blancanieves never feels like anything is missing. The excellent variation in the evocative score more than adequately delivers enough emotion in place of dialogue, and to me it seemed that every couple of minutes there was a brilliantly composed, expressionist shot that made me catch my breath.

So I’m off to a great start. Blancanieves is one of those movies that you don’t often see outside of the festival setting, but has a thousand times more worth than either of the other two recent Snow White retellings.