An innocent young royal, a wicked stepmother, a charming prince and seven little men living in the woods—the elements of Tarsem Singh’s latest epic may seem familiar, but audiences will be surprised and delighted by new twists the visionary director has brought to an age-old tale in Mirror Mirror.
Producer Bernie Goldmann, who collaborated with producer Josh Pate and writer Melisa Wallack to develop the initial concept for Mirror Mirror, says they were inspired by a photograph depicting a live model as the fairy-tale heroine. “What we set out to do was to make a live action version of the classic fairy tale, Snow White, that had the feel, the size and the scope of an animated movie. We realized that it’s a great story that had never been explored narratively in a live-action movie.”
In looking for a director, Goldmann says Tarsem Singh was the obvious choice. “Tarsem was the perfect filmmaker to direct this film,” says Goldmann. “He knows how to enhance a story with color and light and is very comfortable with the kind of scope we wanted for this movie. There’s no one else like him.”
For Singh, who was finishing up work on the action epic Immortals for Relativity Media, this project was a chance to tackle something he had never done before: a family-friendly movie that combines action, comedy and intrigue with his signature visual splendor. “This was one of the few projects I was interested in doing,” says Singh. “It’s a totally different energy from my other films and I was deeply interested in updating a classic and eternal story.”
With Singh on board, the script began to take shape as a stunning big-screen spectacle leavened with humor and romance. Singh and Goldmann decided that the best way to start the search for a unique take on the classic tale was by returning to the original story. They discovered a wealth of options. “The story actually has existed for five or six hundred years throughout Europe, in many different countries and different versions,” says Goldmann. “We were able to incorporate what we learned from our research into the concept for our movie.”
Singh explains: “Going back and looking at the original story was a very important process. There are thousands of different variations that have developed since it was first written. These variations provided us with many inspired ideas that were later used in the film.”
In some of the early versions, the dwarfs earn their living as highway robbers. In the words of one of the film’s characters, they “steal from the rich—and keep it.” “We thought that was an interesting thing to go back to,” says Goldmann. “It gives whole other side to their characters. They’ve been marginalized by society and this is their revenge.
“In some of the stories, we also discovered a beast of sorts that lived in the woods and we decided to bring that into our story,” Goldmann continues. “Then we also expanded the role of the King and added a mystery surrounding him.”
In addition to historical incarnations of the Snow White tale, Singh plumbed his own considerable imagination for inspiration. “I knew right away that the bulk of this narrative was going to center on the relationship between the Queen, Snow White and the Prince,” he says.
Goldmann is confident the film will resonate with audiences of all ages and would like to see it take its place beside other big screen adaptations of classic tales. “Hopefully, this is a movie that will play for years as a perennial family favorite and redefine the story of Snow White.”