Snow White

“Instead of looking, I prefer to listen,” says one character to another in cult Swiss author Robert Walser's “Snow White,” which provides the fitting source for this ground-breaking adaptation. Beginning with photographs of Walser (who spent most of his years in a mental asylum, and is best known for the influential Surrealist work Institute Benjamenta) lying dead in the alpine snow, Snow White quickly abandons image entirely, or at least the traditional version of it, and instead uses words alone to create vision. A fade to black that lasts the entire film, interspersed with sudden shots of clouds floating across a blue sky, accompany a series of actors voicing the entire story. Similar to Jarman's Blue in radical concept, Snow White embraces the question, as Manoel de Oliveira wonders in an interview about the film, “Do pictures negate the intensity of vision?” Does one see more clearly, when one has only words to see? Challenging, radical, and essential.

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