Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fairytale Blogathon: Meet the Charmings

Over the summer Fritzi Kramer at Movies Silently invited bloggers to partake in a Fairytale Blogathon. As a big fan of so many adventures about true love overcoming all, I couldn't wait to cover one of my favorite princess/prince relationships: The Charmings from Once Upon A Time.

When this show premiered in 2011, millions of home viewers instantly fell in love with the fairytale-centered story split between a fantasy world and a small town in Maine called Storybrooke. From the creators of Lost came a new show starring popular and favorite fairytale characters stuck in a new dimension of the real world unable to remember who they were.

Two of the main characters that caught my attention from the beginning were the Charmings - more commonly known as Snow White and Prince Charming. The show has explored the many dreamy, romantic ways some princes and princesses have met (Cinderella/Phillip, Ariel and Eric, etc) and spun their legends into charming storylines of adventure, sacrifice, and romance. Though Once Upon A Time is a Disney production, the story of Prince Charming and Snow White's relationship isn't the Walt Disney animated version most of us grew up with.

Over the span of the first season Snow White and Prince Charming meet, fall in love, (have a young daughter who they sacrifice from an evil curse), lose, and find each other. To not dive into the entire series of complicated storylines, we're going to focus more on the main similarities between the animated film and the television show, and why the latter is vastly more interesting.

True Love Meets

In the 1929 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the journey of the princess finding her true love is pretty linear. A young maiden to the Evil Queen is cast out into the forbidden forest to have her heart removed by The Hunter. Snow White's only crime is being more "fair"; skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony. Facing doubt to kill Snow White, The Hunter banishes her where she makes a sanctuary with seven gold-mining dwarves. The Prince happens upon their house by accident and immediately falls in love with her. When she is tricked by the Evil Queen to eat from a poisoned apple and lapses into an eternal sleep, he is her only hope of rescue via true love's kiss.

The Once Upon A Time version of their romance is not so straight-forward. Snow White is far from a mistreated maiden and instead grows up as a daughter of a wealthy king and a stepmother she innocently betrayed as a child. After her father passes away, and is let go by The Hunger who is ordered to take out her heart, Snow White hides out in the Enchanted Forest trying to earn enough jewels to make her get-away. The Prince and Princess meet when Snow White tries to rob his carriage. Stealing a bag of jewels, including a cherished wedding ring from his mother, he vows to find the thief and make him pay. The Prince corners the robber convinced this person is a man, and is surprised to see it is a girl - nay, woman. Knowing her true identity and threatening to turn her over to the Evil Queen, he persuades her to help him retrieve his possessions she had sold to mountain trolls.

Perhaps one of my favorite scenes of the series so far is this initial meeting between The Prince and Snow White (Season One, Episode Snow Falls). Their exchanges are flirtatiously sharp and defy how we've grown up watching fairytale romances develop through lovely yet supremely naive rose-colored glasses. Instead, they challenge each other. Snow White doesn't believe in true love stating that it's all kingdom mergers and business acquisitions. She even calls the Prince on his sarcastic behavior by calling him "Charming"; not because he's particularly nice/kind. Their adventure to retrieve Charming's trinkets and fight off Queen's henchmen and evil trolls builds a strong attraction between them. Not to mention Ginnifer Goodwin and Josh Dallas's chemistry is off the charts! They make us believe deeply in their characters' relationship is more of a partnership rather than a princess's escape from the horribly imperfect life.

Evil Intervenes

After Prince Charming and Snow White retrieve his precious jewels from the mountain trolls, their departure leaves them lingering over what could be. Charming is to be betrothed to another princess and Snow White still has to avoid being captured and killed. There is no denying their instant attraction but they must suppress confessing their feelings.

Compared to the animated film which has a finite running time and storyline to etch its way into our hearts, OUAT's relationship, trust, and endurance is tested repeatedly. True love is never without its challenges, and the Charmings have more than one obstacle that threatens to keep them apart.

A big obstacle between them is being forced not to act on their heart's desire (Season One, Episode 7:15 AM). As the big wedding approaches, Charming's father notices that his son is not acting as "happily ever after" as one would expect. He suspects that Charming is in love with another woman, and warns him to put away such fantasies of true love because his upcoming marriage will be good for the kingdom's future. But he doesn't give up hope; tracking down Snow White he implores her in a letter to meet him one evening at the castle and share her true feelings.

When she does, Charming's father discovers Snow White on the castle's grounds and captures her. Thrown into the dungeons is actually where Snow White meets one of the seven dwarves - Grumpy. When she is released it's only for Charming's father to threaten her that Charming will be killed if she tells him he loves. She is forced to hide her feelings, hurt Prince Charming, and flees to the forest with the seven dwarves.

After Snow White lies to Prince Charming about her love for him, he does not give up to her. A favorite passage shared between the couple is "no matter what happens, I will find you". Their romance is largely spent with a long road of losing and finding each other, and never giving up on hope.

Happily Ever After

Prince Charming faces several obstacles to win back Snow White; his fiance and her secret affair, his father, evil sorceresses and nymphs, and of course, the Evil Queen.

After refusing to marry his fiance, Prince Charming is captured by King George and faces execution. His life is spared by the Evil Queen, and a deal is struck, that she will kill Prince Charming by destroying her one true love: Snow White. Enter the famous poisoned apple.

Snow White is preparing to storm King George's castle with her friends Red Riding Hood, seven dwarves, and fairies, but she is intercepted by the Evil Queen. White swears she'll do whatever it takes for their feud to end, but it's not a promise to be easily kept. Tempted with an apple, the Evil Queen offers an ultimatum: if she eats the apple, she will be entombed in her own body filled with nothing but regret, but Charming will live. However, if Snow White doesn't eat the apple, then Charming will die. Snow White eats the apple, leaving Charming in his cell to feeling her soul in pain.

Even then, Charming does not give up on her. Escaping the Queen's palace with help from The Hunter once more, he tracks White down with the help of her friends to find her glass coffin guarded by the weeping dwarves.

The pilot of Once Upon A Time (Season One, Episode Once Upon A Time) actually begins with this iconic fairytale scene and slowly reveals the romance and heartache of their relationship. This is also the initiation of when the Evil Queen threatens "to destroy their happiness if it is the last thing she does". The show may open with the famous scene of true love overcoming all trope but there is a lot in the show we have to wait and explore to see how much the lovebirds genuinely conquer.

To tell the Charming's full elaborate and tangled story would probably make this post infinitely longer - which if fans of show may notice I left out the Emma/David/Mary-Margaret relationship. What sticks out most about Prince Charming and Snow White - without all the factors of the rest of the series - is that their relationship is founded in hope for each other. There is the usual "he/she completes me" element to their romance but it cannot be easily seen as hokey or naive as some of the overblown Disney Princess Propaganda can make it out to be. Charming and Snow White are in love but they challenge, support, and want the best for the other whatever their hearts' desire may be. They never lose sight of each other - making their hurdles of true love more adventurous, complex, and definitely charming.

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