Snow White and the… White Stag? Christian Symbolism in the 2012 Snow White movie

The original Snow White myth is already full of esoteric, hermetic symbolism; written to preserve alchemical wisdom during times of persecution. So they could have left the story alone when making the 2012 movie Snow White and the Huntsman.

Instead, somebody in Hollywood decided to stuff  so full of overt, deliberate and obvious Christian symbolism that I feel like I’ve just suffered through a two hour sermon with flashy special effects.

I knew something was off in the beginning of the movie, when Snow White (Kristen Stewart) says the full Lord’s Prayer while locked away in her prison.

The evil queen (Charlize Theron) has taken over the kingdom after seducing her father, and turned the whole land to death and suffering (exactly like the first Narnia movie). She’s a witch, of course, and besides worshiping an idol (a big shiny mirror), she’s also obsessed with her looks (the sin of pride).

What she’s after is Snow White’s heart.

But Snow White escapes through the woods and ends up in a magical, always-spring meadow with 7 dwarves and a handsome hunstman (Chris Hemsworth).

That’s when things get really weird. Suddenly all the animals and fairies gather and lead Snow White towards the sunrise, and a giant tree – in front of which stands (WTF?) a huge white stag with branch-like antlers.

Yes, we’ve seen the white stag in Harry Potter, but it’s also a feature of Narnia:

“It’s him!” says one of the dwarves. “He’s blessing her!”

But just then the white stag gets shot by an arrow and – turning into butterflies – ascends into the sky.

Satan fighting for the soul of the blessed

Snow White gets tempted by her lust for her child-hood companion and eats the poisoned apple (succumbs to Sin, the temptation of the female-Satan queen).

She dies… is displayed in the tomb-like cathedral, but then gets revived by the love and suffering of the huntsman.

This is a bit confusing – when Kristen Stewart stumbles out of the church, barefoot, dressed in a white linen garment, calling on her followers to take up their swords and follow her into battle to defeat evil and avenge her Father’s cause – it’s very easy to assume she represents Jesus.

Her motivating speech talks about “we all need to light the fire in our hearts” or something like that; rhetoric that should be very familiar from evangelical churches. It’s kind of a pentecostal moment. “Let ME be your weapon!” she shouts.

But actually, I think Snow White represents each individual soul (which is exactly what the original Snow White represented – the pure soul, the fallen Sophia, which needed to be raised back up in the Logos).

Each singular soul has to wage a bloody battle, a fierce war against evil, and each individual soul needs to triumph. Explosions, armies, battles… all so that Snow White can face the queen and say “You can’t have my heart.” (Just in case you didn’t get it, the queen is actually placed within a burning fire, her skin melting off, so that you  know she represents Satan.)

The Huntsman is really Jesus, in an interesting twist. In the original Snow White, she sleeps until her Handsome Prince comes and revives her with a kiss… but in the remake, the handsome prince is the temptation that led to her ruination (= sex with hot guys is bad).

In the end of the movie, Snow White is crowned, all her loved ones are restored (one of the dwarves had died, but he comes back later). Ie, Jesus has the power to restore the dead to life – but not Satan (as was made explicit).

How to spot a Christian Movie

The unfortunate thing about Christian movies is that they keep recycling the same tired symbols. I felt like I was watching Narnia again (did they borrow all the sets and props and costumes?)

Here’s how to spot a Christian movie:

  • Bad, poorly suggestive dialogue
  • Flat characters that don’t grow (because they have no real moral qualms: right and wrong are universals
  • It’s Spring, then suddenly Winter, then suddenly Summer in the space of a few days
  • Lots of Apples and Snakes
  • There’s a big glorious call to arms and battle scene
  • There’s some strange silent meeting with a magical animal who transfers a blessing, probably in front of a big tree or the sunrise
  • There’s no justifying sense of logic or reason. Things happen because they look good, or are symbolic, but things don’t make any sense (case in point: Snow White happens to find a big nail she never saw before, then when she escapes a big white horse is just lying their waiting for her. Indeed, God provides).
  • It’s a totally unrealistic mismatch, a pastiche, a nobody cares because nobody is looking at the details. (Kristen Stewart sometimes half-asses an English accent, but often doesn’t. Charlize Theron does a passable English accent most of the time, but can’t get her “R’s” right. Chris Hemsworth speaks in a strong Scottish accent, even though he’s Australian. Couldn’t someone have said, “Hey, let’s try a little harder?”)
  • Good triumphs because it is good. Not because it has any special weapon, any actual advantage. Good wins because God is pulling all the strings. So as long as the Good Team has Faith that Good Things will happen (like the dwarves being able to open the gates in time), they will  be rewarded with miracles.

Muslims and Jezebels?

Earlier in the story, right outside the haunted forest lived a community of women who scar their faces and wear burqas, because “their ugliness is their only protection”. Probably included because it looks cool, even though why in the Hell is there this totally foreign culture living inside the same kingdom?

The moral message is “caring about your external appearance makes you easy food for the Devil. Don’t let him consume you!” It seems like the Muslims get to go to heaven also (at least their women – but all their men are off fighting) but Jesus (the huntsman) leads Snow White away from their community anyway… They mean well but they don’t have the right answer, the movie seems to say.

One final thing: the three drops of blood in the beginning and end of the movie are probably a reference to the trinity, or the 3 nails that crucified Jesus (that’s why we have 3 red lines around a candy cane, also). But it could be a reference to virginity, purity, chastity.

Kristen Stewart is able to defeat the queen (by stabbing her in the heart, against all odds, with a blade that came out of nowhere) because she is pure. And “only the pure one has the power to vanquish evil” (I forget the exact quote from the movie, except that it reminded me of the book of Revelations description of the unblemished lamb that has the power to open the book with 7 seals.)

The only thing I was totally expecting was for Snow White to smash the false idol of the magic mirror. I was sure she was going to do it. But she doesn’t.

What did you think? Am I reading too much into it? Did you like the movie?

 

  • willaimgoodnight

    once again this guy shows how bigoted he is. ask a christian if this movie is about jesus and he will say a resounding no. it has occult reference the film is made by athiestic anti-god directors none of whom are remotely religious but like the author are obsessed by the occult and themes of good and evil. the fact snow white says a prayer is enough to tur him white with fright lol. i mean come on fairy’s are christian. the white stag is what exactly jesus christ(the tought it might be turns mortifies this guy. the director who was busy behind the scenes banging the leading lady is not remotely christian. so i think its maybe its a luciferan film with christian overtones because satanism is an inversion of christianity.. I think your obseesed to the pint you are going insane. I think people like yourself(idiot religious obsessed athiest) should wonder why your so obsessed if there is no go THE LADY DOTH PROTEST TO MUCH.
    just read a bit more the huntsman an alcoholic who mourns his dead wife is a representation of Jesus in the film a man who agrees to hunt the girl down for money so she can be killed lol think i will read your review again i need a good laugh

  • Robin

    actually the stag is a pagan symbol it represents the all father male aspect of nature oden used stags to pull hes slay during the the 21st of december on the wild hunt better known now as santa clause and what we children of nature call yule and what christians call christmas blessed be.

    • Jane

      Thank you! The white stag in Snow White is a PAGAN symbol, not Christian! It represents the Horned God of the Forest…Cernunnos, Herne, etc. You really should do your research before you write!

      • sellabella

        I am so glad so many of you set the record straight! I need say nothing!

        • T

          The writer said somewhere that he was inspired by the forest god from Studio Ghibli’s Mononoke. They look _very_similar.

    • Yronimos Whately

      Come to think of it, this movie is loaded with symbolism relating to Oden, from the ravens, to the winged crown, to the white stag and white horse, to the white dress and red cloak, to being hung upside-down from a tree, to the Wild Hunt for an innocent girl, to promotional art focusing on a single eye, to black warriors, to runes, and on and on and on…. so, I take back what I said about the imagery being not so much Pagan as New Age: there’s plenty of Pagan symbolism to spare.

  • Robin

    and apples in history were used in pagan rites and stores such as Eris the goddess of discordia held an apple.

  • Robin

    u might wanna really do more research beyond abrahamic religions….just saying.

  • Robin

    in my honest opinion the movie held secret pagan symbols but knowing mass pop would not relate to pagan ideals so throwing in a few christian ideals softing the blow and the queen being evil is so wrong and in nature there is no good vs evil its not that black and white she was stolen as a child but her mother gave her the power to free her self but she got obbsessed with power like most people and was pulled into that abyss yet she had feelings and empathy

  • Robin

    and you cant blame narnia for its christian writer the writer clear took pagan legends twisted them and used them for a christian story

  • Robin

    ok i think i am done:) lol

  • Robin

    oh and the mirror has runes all around it

  • Kat

    She wlks on water in the stag scene. You missed that one

    • http://www.holyblasphemy.net Derek Murphy

      Thanks, guess I did miss it.

  • sarah

    “There’s no justifying sense of logic or reason. Things happen because they look good, or are symbolic, but things don’t make any sense (case in point: Snow White happens to find a big nail she never saw before, then when she escapes a big white horse is just lying *their* waiting for her. Indeed, God provides).”

    If you’re going to dedicate an entire site to hating on all those God believing folks, with their idiocy being your main argument, you should at least try to appear as if you have some intelligence of your own. I know it’s difficult, what with all of your precious brainpower being used to make the belief in non-belief not seem like a blatant contradiction, but it would help support your main argument if you used correct grammer while writing your articles.

  • Ammy Pearson

    You are off the mark here. Actually, most of the symbolism in this movie is pagan possibly disguised as Christian. Sounds like you hate Christianity but you ought to do some real research and find out that Christianity, especially the Catholic church was infiltrated by paganism and the ancient mystery religions.

  • Yronimos Whately

    Agreed that this film was loaded with not precisely Pagan, but rather New Age symbolism. I didn’t really pay attention until Snow White died; she didn’t come back to life – that character died, and was replaced by what the New Age refers to as a “walk-in”: an ascended, enlightened, alien spirit; “farewell, princess” and all that… the character didn’t act the same, speak the same, or even quite look the same after that. What we see from then on is a battle between the equally-matched yin-yang mirror-image forces of a “white witch” and a “black witch”, a New Age motif with its roots in the teachings of Aleistair Crowley rather than in Christianity. This was hardly a Christian film!

    • MarySuzy Perla

      Could you give me more info about this ‘walk-in’? I mean like some other spirit takes over a body when the person dies? I mean if Grandma went to the hospital is there a chance she won’t be ‘her’ when we go to pick her up? How creepy!

  • safina

    Hi,

    I think you are right and wrong in your analysis. If you knew the entertainment industry, you would know that they would not waste money telling you how great religion is.

    I will simply suggest your rewatch the movie.
    Switch the characters as follow and pay attention to the text line. They will make much more sense now….

    The evil queen: GOD, the all seeing christian, muslim, jewish god
    The white snow:; Satan.
    The dwarfs and other fellows: the ones helping Satan’s return

    Satan (kristen, the white snow) is jailed by the queen (god). She wants to eat the apple of wisdom and knowlegde and dies. Charlize Theron (the queen => god), tells her “I know things you will never know). Satan “dies” and ressuscitates.
    She calls on people to light the flame and blaze their heart (she uses fire terminology), to fight the rules of the queen, to reclaim their freedom etc…
    Satan fights God: the evil queen is much stronger than the white snow, she can anticipate all her kicks and moves. A black shadow, also stronger than the white snow’s companions, fight and is about to win. The shadow could be the messia, fighting at the end of times. Then all of the suddn, the white snow hit “god” with a hidden knife.. God seems so surprised, didnt expect it.
    The white snow bends down on her knee in front of this falling “god” (evil queen) and cries!!! Yes she cries.. satan was a fallen angel, lets not forget so he used to be close to God which he has just betrayed and killed for good in a not so direct way (vicious way)…The god fell below a huge golden ring (egyptian symbolic for god);

    And then the church bells ring: a new religion is proclaim; this is satan’s religion.
    God is dead.

    So now, it makes more sense?.. just listen to the text of the movie and it will seem very strange..

    • http://www.holyblasphemy.net Derek Murphy

      Thanks for your comments – but in your analysis, (the queen is God), then God gave Satan the apple of knowledge. Actually I agree with this. And in your analysis, Satan (snow white) is the hero, and God (the evil queen) is the villain. I also agree with this. I’m just surprised that these are the moral boundaries being shown in a popular movie, when on the surface they are opposite the current core values of religious people everywhere.

    • John

      Very Nice..It’s good to see other people seeing this theme. The same reversal is in the Batman series. Especially the one with bane. Your point is even more obvious in the newest Huntsman film. The “evil” mirror is being searched for through most of the film and drives men to murder each other much like the ring of power. The Evil Queen is now ‘one’ with the mirror. Without spoiling too much the mirror tells the queen who is going to be fairer than her and it is someone close to her. she says “you would have me do this?”. The mirror says “I simply show you what is to be. You have already decided for yourself” The ‘evil’ mirrors runes are actually spoken out and are quite profound. “The age is wicked to those who walk alone.(without Christ) When I look in the mirror I see myself; As what I may become” (with, or without God). I believe the Christ figure in films like these have a duel representation as Christ and mankind as one. Man’s ultimate failure to rise to Christ Consciousness in the eyes of God and then yes, the rise of the Anti-Christ.

  • Jean

    The three drops of blood come from the original fairytale of Snow White. Three is a magical number in perhaps the majority of classic fairytales. It seems as though you really have not done your research.