Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Snow Queen, The

Finnish movie (1993). Harollfilm. Pr Päivi Hartzell. Dir Hartzell. Spfx Lauri Pitkanen, Karl von Kugelgen. Screenplay Hartzell. Based on "The Snow Queen" (1846) by Hans Christian Andersen. Starring Pirjo Bergström (The Beloved), Esko Hukkanen (The Fool), Sebastian Kaatrasalo (Kai), Tuula Nyman (The Witch), Saara Pakkasvirta (The Bandit Wife), Maria Pyykko (The Bandit Daughter), Elina Salo (The Sorceress of the North), Satu Silvo (The Snow Queen), Reijo Tuomi (Polar Bear Man), Juulia Ukkonen (The Princess), Outi Vainionkulma (Gerda), Paavo Westerberg (The Prince). 88 mins. Colour.

The children Kai and Gerda discover on the beach a music box which contains a tiny Doll ballerina and three buttons, which latter become Kai's. From here on there is ambiguity as to whether what we are seeing is Reality or a Dream of Gerda's. Unknown to the children, long ago a green stone fell from the Earth into a well. If the Snow Queen could recover it and smash it with "the Black Sword" she would own the world. But this she cannot do herself, for her hands are so cold they freeze the well's water every time she tries. So she one night recruits Kai to do the job for her, promising him that, if successful, he shall have the Crown of Darkness that will make him Ruler of the World. As they dash across the sky in a horse-drawn sleigh, she spies the Magic buttons and casts them out onto the land. The rest of the tale is of Gerda's Quest to rescue Kai, with the discovered buttons acting as Plot Coupons. At last we are restored to the beach where Gerda and Kai "again" discover the music box: this time they decide to re-bury it in the sand.

TSQ is rich in fantasy and also in visual beauty; but the English-language version is appallingly dubbed. Silvo is magnificent as the Snow Queen – a torrent of ice-white hair dominates a performance that convinces one that here is a Femme Fatale who is totally nonhuman – but Vainionkulma outshines even this. Had TSQ been made in Hollywood (or even been properly dubbed) it could be regarded as a classic of fantasy Cinema – and, indeed, of filmed Sword and Sorcery, for that is what Hartzell has made Kaatrasalo's (small) part of the plot. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.