A Seasonal Fairytale
I guess I am just not the sort of person who is enchanted by fairytale's, maybe that comes from a childhood where fairytale's and books were not a part of growing up or maybe there is something else which stops me from being mesmerised by a magical fantasy. So when I say that after watching "Snow Queen", also known as "The Winter Witch", I was pretty bored by the 3 hour made for TV movie take it that it would have had to have been pretty special in the first place to enchant me. In fairness whilst "Snow Queen" is a made for TV movie it is most certainly not a tacky production with a mixture of great sets and good performances lifting it from being unbearable. But at the same time at 3 hours it is a long, drawn out movie which has its moments but could have done with being shorter and less epic.
Based upon the Hans Christian Andersen story "Snow Queen" starts as the locals enjoy the winter festivities down on the frozen lake, that is until a woman goes missing in the woods, found the next day dead in the snow, leaving her husband Wolfgang (Robert Wisden - Final Run) to raise their daughter Gerda (Chelsea Hobbs - Confessions of a Go-Go Girl). Nine years later and Wolfgang employs Kai (Jeremy Guilbaut) to be the bell boy at the White Bear hotel and it doesn't take long for Kai and Gerda to become close. But with winter setting in something happens as Kai disappears leading Gerda to believe he has been taken by the Snow Queen (Bridget Fonda - Lake Placid) and forcing her on a magical journey through the seasons to try and rescue him.
As the "Snow Queen" starts we are taking to this unnamed town in an unnamed country but one which reminded me strongly of the western settings from the "Love Comes ...." series of movies. It is a beautiful setting and as the first half of the movie plays out with the arrival of Kai and the friendship which forms with Gerda it is all quite sweet and at times amusing. In fact you wonder where it is going because so much of the movie is taken up by Kai and Gerda becoming friends. But then something does happen, it happens to Kai and leads to the start of the fairytale.
Now as you would imagine I have never read Hans Christian Andersen's story so I don't know how different this version is or whether this version is a more elaborate retelling of the original. What I do know is that whilst "Snow Queen" has the elements you would expect from a fairytale such as the strange creatures, the journey for love and so on it is seriously drawn out. It feels like director David Wu wanted to make an epic fairytale movie but the content is not there for a movie which is 3 hours long, it lacks energy, humour and to be honest passion. It makes me wonder how much better "Snow Queen" would have been if someone had cut it down to the two hour mark as it would surely be less drawn out even if it also ended up less epic.
But get beyond that and there is no doubt that "Snow Queen" is an impressive production for a TV movie with great sets and locations. It also has good performances with a wonderfully icy performance from Bridget Fonda as the Snow Queen whilst Chelsea Hobbs as Gerda plays the fairytale damsel quite nicely. But the knock out performance is from Jeremy Guilbaut as Kai who at times has a bit of Jake Gyllenhaal about him and a wonderful intensity in his eyes.
What this all boils down to is that "Snow Queen" isn't a terrible movie although it is drawn out but if you are not a huge fan of fairytale movies it will be a long slog of a movie to sit through.