Belgium is a country of books and comics, not so much of animation. On rare occasions though, something worthwhile or interesting rises to the surface, and if anything, Blanche Neige: La Suite falls right into this category. The English translation of the title is Snow White: The Sequel, which might give you an idea about the direction this film is going. Better think again.
Don't feel too bad if you fail to recognize Picha's name. Even though he directed three feature length animation films before, they were all made a good 30 years ago. They also fall into the rather obscure category of adult-oriented comedy animation, which is a long way from anything remotely marketable these days. And yet, it didn't prevent his second feature film, Le Chaînon Manquant, from being selected for a Golden Palm in Cannes. Pretty hard to image how that came about, but such are the strange ways of artistic film festivals.
Let it be clear, Picha is not in for highbrow entertainment. Blanche Neige is pretty raunchy, ill-mannered, crude and pubescent. If such kind of humor strikes a bad nerve, it is best to stay as far away as possible from this film. This is no second Shrek, where Hollywood's morale dictates how far a film maker can go when making fun of your favored fairy tales. It seems there was no one looking over Picha's shoulder waving a reproachful finger, which shows pretty clearly in the resulting film.
The concept of Blanche Neige is pretty simple, as the story picks up right where the Brothers Grimm put down their pens. Happily ever after isn't proving all that happily after all when the prince of the enchanted kingdom starts running into all kinds of sleeping princesses. By law he is forced to kiss them awake and marry them, which leads to one big household of angry soon-to-be wives. The mastermind behind all this drama is the Good Fairy, who also wants the prince for her own pleasure. While the prince is sinking knee deep into his own private mud pool of troubles, he sends Snow White back to the Seven Dwarfs, currently employed as tyrants of a diamond mine. Add some cameos of Bimbi and a hungry ogre lusting for the meat of Snow White and you have the basic outline of the film.
Missing from the above description are the sex-infused jokes, wanking dwarfs and cursing princesses. Even though Disney is one of the few last sacred fortresses, Picha shows no mercy while treading on the fairy tales that brought fame to the Disney studios. Yet through this film, Picha's love for and knowledge of Disney shows, as many little details have been worked into this unofficial and unlikely sequel. Still, if you don't plan on tarnishing your memories of the fairytale characters Disney once brought to life so gaily and happily, don't even consider touching this film as it has the power to leave a permanent mark.
Visually Blanche Neige is colorful and attractive. The animation is not superb but fits the film, the character design is jolly and fun. Backgrounds are hardly animated but bring lots of color to the screen, making the settings looks vibrant and giving the film some extra flair. Originally the film was dubbed in French, I myself watched the British version. I'm usually not a big fan of dubs, but after going back to the French trailer again I think watching the British version was a pretty good decision after all. The British accents lend more power to the characters, adding even an extra layer of vulgarity. Especially the dwarfs sound like regular Ritchie lowlife criminals, making all the swearing and cursing even more fun to listen to.
Blanche Neige, La Suite will only appeal to a certain kind of audience. You have to be able to withstand the raunchy humor, but more importantly, you need to appreciate the straightforward way Picha screws around with his source material. The film is not exactly controversial, times have changed too much for that. Still, films like these are almost impossible to come by and are sure to raise some eyebrows. Luckily, Picha also made sure the humor is strong enough to carry the film on its own, even without all the cursing and nudity. He succeeds in balancing the film on a very thin rope hanging above a steep cliff of cheap effect, staying clear from plain nastiness and crudeness just for the sake of shock.
The film is pretty short and rightfully so. A joke can only be stretched that far, and when you start getting used to the tone of the film the fun slowly fades. Just when that begins to happen, Picha picks up the pace and starts racing towards the ending. It keeps the film from becoming dull and lets you walk away from it with a big grin on your face. Blanche Neige works as a unique experience, drawing its humor from the crude and straightforward way of tackling its sacred subject. I can image that watching a series of these films can grow boring pretty quickly, but for as long as it lasted, I had a hell of a time.