Review: A new old way to make a movie |

Review: A new old way to make a movie

One day, I directed the attention of a young teen to a vintage movie I was watching. He commented that it wasn’t a movie. How could it be if it wasn’t in color? He might as well have claimed it couldn’t be a movie if it didn’t have car chases and explosions.

I wonder how many adults think a silent movie isn’t really a movie or at least feel that such relics just point out what filmmakers did before they really figured out how to make movies.

Two years ago, “The Artist” gave both black-and-white film and silent film a boost by becoming the first such combination to win the Academy Award for Best Picture since 1929. In some ways, “The Artist” is just a parody of a black-and-white, silent film, although parody is an artistic choice as much as anything else.

This year, the film “Blancanieves” — black and white, silent – taps a more ambitious challenge than the merely entertaining triumph of “The Artist.” It’s fair to peg “Blancanieves” as homage to the creativity and style expressed in the silent era, but modern techniques and sensibilities also stir this ripe, fanciful melodrama. Regardless, it’s a well realized example of selecting from the rich array of tools in the cinematic bag.

“Blancanieves” translated means “Snow White.” Loosely mapped from classic Disney, this isn’t what you’d call a family picture — notwithstanding the fun of including seven dwarfs in the story.

A famous Spanish matador becomes quadriplegic after being gored by a bull. His daughter — Snow White — is born into sad circumstance with twists aplenty determining her life of constraint and possibility.

I carry some unfair filters into my arts and entertainment viewing, as did the young teen who thought black-and-white movies aren’t really movies. For instance, I’m one of those people who think that opera could be great if it weren’t for all that singing. “Blancanieves” has an operatic quality that works in almost every cinematic choice it makes.

See “Blancanieves.” Likely, it will sneak around your predispositions. It plays at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Nevada Theatre.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at

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