Snow Queen

**1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The original story of the Snow Queen tells of a little boy who got a chip of magic mirror in his eye and began to see all good things as ugly, all evil things as beautiful. This version, perhaps mutated under Communism, has removed the religious content that gave the original much of its shape, recast its devilish troll as a a bumbling minion looking for redemption and made the magic mirrors into the tools of good wizards, which the Snow Queen fears. Yet whilst purists may revolt, the resulting fable is quite charming in its own right. In many ways it's more coherent and it's certainly better suited for modern audiences.

It's still a story with a strong heroine (in fact, most of its major characters are female), and young kids will find her easy to identify with as she seeks to find and rescue her brother, whom the Snow Queen has stolen. The troll who accompanies her is more like a moomin than something you'd find in The Lord Of The Rings and spends much of his time disguised as a small grey ferret; she also has a cute white ferret pet who just might have secrets of her own. All of them have excruciating voices in the American dub (Russian speakers should definitely seek out the original) but they work well enough otherwise and make a good team as they weave their way through simplified versions of the stories from the original, strange encounters trimmed down for the sake of a child-friendly tight running time.

These esoteric scenarios may not make much sense to adults but they're conveyed with a sincerity that kids will find appealing. They're all very child centered and well paced. Threats seem credible without being too scary for sensitive kids and the humour is well balanced. Though the villain isn't particularly charismatic, her backstory goes some way towards justifying this and making her interesting in other ways.

That dubbing aside, Snow Queen is watchable enough for adults. It's morally unchallenging but has a dusting of fairytale magic that carries it through its shakier moments. As Winter draws in and the inevitable saccharine Christmas films appear, this could well prove your best bet for watching with a young family.

Reviewed on: 15 Sep 2013
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An orphan girl must travel through a dangerous world to save her brother from the monarch who wants to turn everything to ice
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Director: Vladlen Barbe, Maksim Sveshnikov

Writer: Vladlen Barbe, Maksim Sveshnikov

Starring: Doug Erholtz, Wendee Lee, Marianne Miller, Cindy Robinson, Christopher Smith, Jessica Straus, Kirk Thornton

Year: 2012

Runtime: 80 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: Russia

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