When Pablo Berger released Blancanieves, a new silent film made in the style of 1920s cinema, many critics said that he was just riding on the coattails of The Artist. What they don’t realize is that it’s not possible to plan and produce a film in under a year, especially one that transplants the fairy tale of Snow White into the world of Spanish bullfighting. “Big budget films like this move like elephants,” Berger told Metropolis from his home in Madrid. “I wrote the script in 2004 and the first page said, ‘This is a black-and-white silent film.’ Most people laughed in my face and didn’t read it. Those who did laughed even more because they saw how expensive it would be.” But after nearly a decade, his persistence finally paid off. When The Artist became the first silent to win the Best Picture Oscar since 1929, Berger’s film was already in the can, but he admits the buzz helped prime audiences for his film. Although the director used many of the conventions of the silent age, including a square format screen, he also allowed himself modern techniques such as spitfire editing. “I didn’t want to make a silent film for ‘20s audiences, but for audiences now,” he explains. “People can process images much more quickly now. I wanted to appeal to them, but also have them experience seeing a silent film in the cinema.”
Blancanieves screens from December 7 at Shinjuku Musashinokan.
Read Don Morton’s review.