BLANCANIEVES—"Snow White" in Spanish—is the silent black-and-white film transporting the classic Grimm Brothers' tale to 1920s Spain. In the first 15 minutes, the title character's matador father is paralyzed in a bullfight, her flamenco-dancing mother dies in labor, and, for whatever reason, her widowed dad decides that his next wife will be the most skeletal, gold-diggerly, Cruella de Vil-ish woman he can find, and the fairy-tale plot is set in motion.
Winner of best film, best actress, and eight other prizes at this year's Goya Awards, Blancanieves is billed as "a tribute to silent films," but like most silent films, it's not actually silent; there's just no spoken dialogue. The soundtrack is exhilarating and makes the film as much about rhythm—the alternately lightning fast and seductively slow clapping, wrist twirling, and cape flourishing in flamenco and bullfighting—as it is about the perseverance of a seriously unlucky young woman. Some of the film's best moments are when the camera moves to that rhythm, even when the music doesn't, when violins are playing in the background instead of guitars.
Blancanieves is also about lead actress Macarena García's eyes. It's hard to find words for these eyes without leaning on some of the clichés that have been used to describe beautiful women's eyes for ages. They are big and gentle and captivating. Roger Ebert wrote that "you cannot know the history of silent film unless you know the face of Renee Maria Falconetti," that to see her "is to look into eyes that will never leave you." If that's the case, Macarena García's eyes are the right ones to pay homage to the medium.