The Snow Witch

Director: Michelle Pettit-Mee
& Kheri Batal

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Ten minute animated short The Snow Witch (2006) was made on a home computer with "Sims 2" software, the animated "stars" of the piece being used separately in gaming.

The Snow WitchOrdinarilly such an origin to an animated film would not be even slightly worthy of attention. But this is a pretty good film that stands on its own merits. It's by no means perfect, but not inferior to many an animated film made without reliance on gaming software.

Based on the Lafcadio Hearn synoptic short story "Yuki-onna" or "The Snow Maiden" from his classic collection Kwaidan (1904). The animation is beautiful in parts, & almost looks three-dimensional, although the best visuals, which are early in the film, are frankly "borrowed" from or freely inspired by Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan (1964), which film adapted the same tale, among others recorded by Hearn.

If not for the obviousness of the visual source this might actually be regarded even more highly even though nothing could equal the beauty of live-action original.

Two woodcutters during a storm take refuge in a mountain hut. That night the beautiful snow maiden entered the hut & breathed death upon the older woodcutter. But as she bent over the young man, she is taken by his beauty, & spares his life, warning him never to speak of their having met.

The Snow WitchUnfortunately the whispering voice for Yuki is just so amateurishly done, & might've worked better to keep the film void of dialogue other than the narrator, who is affected but adequate.

A winter later, the young woodcutter met a beautiful young woman named Oyuki. They fell in love, married, had ten children, & lived very happily for many years. (The Kobayashi film well understood that ten children was moronic & reduced the number.)

This section of the story is set in a wealthy house rather than the woodcutters cottage of Kobayashi's film or Hearn's story. Having borrowed the art design from the Kobayashi movie for the first part of The Snow Witch, the animators should've stuck to that, as there's no way a guy selling bundles of sticks in the village could live in a house suitable for a daimyo lord.

An additional fault is how unutterably Caucausian the characters faces are. In any case, many years later, the woodcutter seeing his wife's face blanched white in evening firelight, mentions that he once dreamed of meeting a snow-woman on the mountain.

As he'd been warned never to speak of her or she'd kill him, the glamour of their perfect union is broken, & Oyuki angrily rises up menacingly. She is once again Yuki Onna the Snow Woman, capable of murder. Before she leaves him forever, she spares his life once more, only for the sake of their undepicted but absurdly numerous children.

It's a good cartoon, but comes nowhere near the beauty of Kobayhashi's film. And while it imrpessed me somewhat, I had no desire to check out the many other Britannica Dreams "Sims" productions which from the advverts alone all look exactly alike, exactly as if generated, ahem, by a gaming program that eradicates any hope of individual originality. Still, for a random discovery of this oddball category of amateur filmmaking, I lit on a nice enough example.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

[ Film Home ] - [ Film Reviews Index ]
[ Where to Send DVDs for Review ] - [ Paghat's Giftshop ]