How The Live Action 'Snow White' Could Be Updated For The Modern Era

Live action adaptations of animated classics are all the rage. If you can think of an old classic Disney film, fully or even only partially animated, chances are that there's a live action update in the works. Many have premiered already, some more successfully received than others. And with live action reboots of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, and more all in the works, it came as no surprise when, in early November, Disney announced that it'd be adding Snow White to its live action reboot list. As the legendary animation studio's very first feature-length animated film, Snow White has a lasting legacy, but while it's still totally charming now, much about it feels old-fashioned. If the story is going to be remade for the new millennium, some updated changes are going to have to be made, and I, for one, have a few ideas.

The Snow White reboot is still early in the development process, but some info has been revealed. As The Hollywood Reporter details, screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, who adapted The Girl On The Train, is in talks to adapt the script and Into The Woods' Marc Platt will produce. Music writing team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who have written songs for La La Land, Trolls and the upcoming Hugh Jackman P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman, will write new songs. But that's about all the info that's known, and as far as story is concerned, I'm not sure what Disney might have planned.

There's certainly a lot they can do. As what I consider Disney's most passive princess, Snow White as a character doesn't do, feel, or say much when compared to, say, Belle of Beauty and the Beast, or the two main characters in Frozen. Essentially her one major quality is her beauty, and its from her beauty that the story's main conflict stems. Fearing her step-daughter to be more gorgeous than she, the Evil Queen sets out on an elaborate quest to destroy Snow White. The jealousy over external looks and the bickering between the two women over what amounts to superficial ideals doesn't exactly scream 2016 (or beyond), or how far women have come in terms of body positivity, nor does Snow White's passive nature reflect our modern day views of female empowerment. So what's Disney to do in a reboot? Here are my thoughts.

Make Her A Stronger, More Feminist Character


As a Disney fan and a feminist, I do have a soft spot for the old classics, like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, but they don't really hold a candle to the princesses or female characters from the '90s Disney renaissance like Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, or Mulan. Sure she's kind, and... yeah that's about it. In a remake, some new personality traits would be great. Perhaps she'll have a purpose other than daydreaming about finding a husband, some life goals (aside from the husband), some likes and dislikes, and some agency of her own. Maybe the new Snow White could take place in a different time period so that she doesn't have to ahdere to strict norms imposed on young girls, or an alternate reality in which the story's Medieval setting didn't have such societal standards. 

But Don't Make Her The Complete Opposite Of Her Former Self

Based on the 1812 fairy tale by The Brothers' Grimm, Disney's 1937 animated classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs follows the original tale pretty faithfully, so there's not much more source material from which to cull any other storylines or updates. Possibly aware of the passivity of the tale's lead character, the filmmakers behind 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman took her a complete 180 degrees into full warrior mode. In that version, Snow White wears armor, rides into battle, and deals with magic, making for a welcome change from the sweet and docile original animated version. But this new Snow White doesn't necessarily need to go from one extreme or another, the warrior to the victim or vice versa. Putting armor on a princess doesn't necessarily make for a "strong female character," and even that trope seems to have worn out its welcome. So I'd suggest making her more complex, definitely, but still a realistic human being.

Focus On the Queen

Alternatively, Disney's new live action update of Snow White might not be about Snow White at all. They could choose to go full Maleficent on the story, and make the Evil Queen its focus, shifting her from a total evil to misunderstood villain. Maleficent turned one of Disney's classic villains into a great lead character worthy of empathy, and managed to do so without alienation or vilifying of its titular princess. Charlize Theron had a pretty big role in Snow White and the Huntsman and its prequel/sequel, The Huntsman: Winter's War, and while her portrayal of the character was awesome, making the Evil Queen a powerful yet sympathetic character in a new update could be an interesting change.

Whether it's finding a happy medium between victim and warrior, or turning the focus to another character altogether, Disney's live-action reboot of the Snow White story has a lot of ways to go. Plot points like wondering who is the fairest of them all or daydreaming about true love's first kiss just feel outdated and old fashioned, so in order to make the story better suited to the ideologies of modern people, those tired elements could be replaced by some 2016 ideals. So get thinking, filmmakers, and hopefully, Snow White can be a successful and must-see update. 

Images: Disney, Giphy

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