Friday, May 24, 2013


There's not much question that Queen Ravenna of SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN was the standout cinematic villainess for the year of 2012.  As I remarked in my review, Ravenna's character arc is a good deal stronger than anything given to the two heroes of the title.  As portrayed by Charlize Theron, Ravenna is essentially a "diva" role, one designed to spotlight the actress' beauty alongside the threat of its decline in the face of age-- a threat which exists both diegetically and non-diegetically.  The photographic pose above for me captures the brittle, sadly vulnerable quality of that beauty.

One curious question I didn't address in the review is the provenance of the queen's name, which most people know only as a city (and province) in Italy, and which would seem to have no ties with fairy tales in general or Snow White in particular.  It's possible the name was simply chosen on the basis of some personal association-- maybe one of the writers once lived in "Ravenna, Michigan."  But Wikipedia offers one interesting parallel, noting that Ravenna is the setting for a play entitled "The Witch," by Jacobean author Thomas Middleton.  Given the quasi-incestuous content of HUNTSMAN, Wiki's commentary points out one correspondence:

Middleton's Hecate has a son (and incestuous lover) called Firestone, who serves as the play's clown.

And just to cite an even less likely (and more comics-nerdy) assocation, a villainess named "Ravenne" appears in two Supergirl stories in ACTION COMICS #322-323 (1965).  As it happens, Ravenne, like Queen Ravenna, is something of a negative feminist icon, since Ravenna's scheme involves resuscitating such evil (and diva-like) women of history as Lady Macbeth, Mata Hari, and Lucretia Borgia.

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