Saturday, 16 August 2008

Biancaneve e i sette nani / Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Such an innocent title for what is, in fact, a hardcore porn film from Joe D'Amato associate Luca Damiano / Franco Lo Cascio.

The opening sequence intercuts serving girl Snow White's comparatively exploration of her own body with the wicked queen having one of her regular sessions with her servants.

These sexual numbers, the first with two women and the second with four men, take us to the 15 minute mark.

Snow White's sexual awakening

At this point then wicked queen discovers from the magic mirror that she is no longer the most beautiful in the land and thus sends her assassin to kill Snow White.

The wicked queen

Smitten by her beauty and casually exposed pudenda, he finds himself unable to complete the task and thus lets her flee into the woods, where she finds the seven dwarves' cottage.

Some hours pass and eventually Snow White goes to bed, whereupon she masturbates and falls asleep.

Next we're introduced to the Prince, who is under pressure from his father to take a wife and produce a heir for the throne. While he and his cousin happily have sex, she's relucant to have a child, leaving the Price to search elsewhere...

Next the seven dwarves make their appearance and, after a brief discussion, decide to let Snow White stay.

“I don't know if I'll be able to repay you for your kindness,” she says.

“Yes, yes,” they reply, with their lascivious grins spelling out what's coming soon...

For a porn film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs features surprisingly decent direction, performances and production values, with the bright colours and Disney-style costume worn by Snow White giving the whole film something of a playful, live-action cartoon feel, and the odd unexpected touch like some Evil Dead style camera work when Snow White is lost in the woods alongside all the more routine moan, groan and grind action.

But perhaps this shouldn't really be such a surprise. After all, Damiano started his career as a regular filmmaker, including a long period as assistant to no less than Fernando Di Leo, and seems, much like the better-known D'Amato to have made the shift into porn production very much as a business decision whilst retaining a commitment to producing as high quality a product as he could. (While he and Damiano often co-directed, D'Amato shot second unit on the film.)

A glance at his filmography also reveals that Damiano was something of a specialist in producing porn versions of well-known characters and (hi)stories, with his other 1995 entries including Hamlet X, The Erotic Adventures of Marco Polo and Decameron Tales I and II.

The last two titles are particularly significant insofar as they indicate a longer and more continuous history that goes back to the 1970s decamerotics – including D'Amato's Canterbury No. 2 - nuove storie d'amore del '300 – and saw the fragmentation of the market into soft- and hardcore forms, the increasing dominance of the latter and the corresponding emergence of more specialised filmmakers, performers and audiences.

It's the last factor, that the film would have been watched by its target audience in the home rather than the movie theatre, that perhaps also accounts for another of its differences from earlier filone forms.

While spaghetti westerns, gialli and so on also combined narrative with spectacle, with the shootout or stalk and slash scene performing a function analogous to the sexual number, these set pieces were usually shorter in duration, with the films themselves running a tighter, more commercial 80 to 95 minutes. Here by contrast there's the understanding that no one is really interested in anything except the sex scenes – no-one except the odd weirdo like yours truly, that is – with the result that more such material is inherently better. (D'Amato: “Unfortunately hardcore doesn't have room for a plot, they're just a series of fuckings.”)

Three faces of Snow White, with my deliberately avoiding shots of further down her body that would otherwise provide more context.

The emergence of the porn ghetto also seems to have unfortunately led Ludmilla Antonova, who plays Snow White with a winning combination of fresh-faced innocence and enthusiastic sexiness, absolutely nowhere except a few appearances in the likes of World Sex Tour 4: Budapest.

Two decades earlier its easy to imagine that simply by undressing she could have been an Edwige Fenech level star or even a decade earlier at least have had a mainstream career in the manner of Michela Miti in the earlier, fumetti-inspired sex comedy all'italiana version of the story, Biancaneve.

Another film that comes to mind here is the porn / musical version of Alice in Wonderland from 1976. Made at a post-porno chic point where the division between the porn and mainstream film industries was not completely entrenched, its female lead, Kristine DeBell, found her mainstream career suffering as a consequence of her X-rated debut.

One area where Snow White suffers by comparison with Alice and Biancaneve its relative lack of subtext. Simply put, the suck and fuck action leaves little room for much else and, indeed, arguably renders any notion of the what the original story is 'really' about in psychosexual terms pretty much redundant, inasmuch as Snow White's sexual initiation is explicit rather than implicit.

While Alice in Wonderland is somewhat similar – a hardcore film without sex scenes is something of an oxymoron, after all, unless we split hairs and define it as mediumcore – the progression in Alice's character is clearer along with their mythological and psychoanalytic functions.

Two areas where Snow White's limited budget are apparent are the special effects, which are none too special, and its soundtrack, which consists of a number of repetetive synthesised themes in which the limitations of the instrument and / or its performers in sounding like actual strings, brass and so forth are particularly evident. (D'Amato fans may also think of the surreal looped dialogue snippet in Caligula II that plays over the orgy scene, again and again.)

Finally it should be noted that, somewhat contrary to my deliberate obfuscation and evasion above, there is not the expected dwarf orgy, with only one of the sex scenes featuring a single dwarf performer. If this provides a further indication that the film was aiming at a mainstream audience rather than a specialist fetish one, it also indicates something of the filmmakers' hard-headed business sense if we consider that 15 years earlier D'Amato was experimenting with trangressive sex and horror combinations. The potential was undoubtedly there, all the more so since some of the seven dwarves were actually played by women but, for better or worse depending on your own position on such exploitative / subversive possibilities, it was not used to the fullest.

To sum up, not a film I could ever see myself watching particularly often nor recommend except for curiosity value, but nevertheless interesting and thought-provoking enough, almost in spite of itself.

[This was another Cinemageddon acquisition; there's another review of the film at]


Stephen Grimes said...

"Canterbury No. 2 - nuove storie d'amore del '300"(Eng.Tales of Canterbury) was made by Scottish director John Shadow who was at one time married to Eurostarlet Ewa Aulin who also starred in his "Microscopic Subway to Oblivion" 3 years earlier,seems to be alot of confusion about this director because of the dodgy info on IMDB.Great film though,the opening credits sequence with the cast starring into the camera as it pans around the table is superb.

D'amato's 2 'Decameroti' are also worth checking out though i've only ever seen these in Italian,been looking for the English versions for awhile now.

K H Brown said...

Thanks for the amendment - John Shadow just looked like it could be a D'Amato pseudonym, though I should have checked against the list of his credits in AKA Joe D'Amato as more likely to be correct than the IMDB, especially since I was reading the interview in it for a quote on hardcore and got a little bit of background on Damiano from it.



Anonymous said...

That is the best film I have ever seen in my life.

Flynn said...

Hey, thanks for the interesting article on a film few would venture talking about at all! I recently stumbled across this movie and just fell in love with Ludmilla Antonova as Snow White. She's not only sexy but quite engaging. Really, really wish she had done more. As you point out, there's not enough experimentation or perhaps madness to make this a truly great adult film (when is there going to be one of these Snow White adult films that has a sex scene between the Queen and Snow White?! Come on!) but it's an interesting one all the same. Thank you once again.

Anonymous said...

"Finally it should be noted that, somewhat contrary to my deliberate obfuscation and evasion above, there is not the expected dwarf orgy, with only one of the sex scenes featuring a single dwarf performer."

I'm unsure which version of this film you saw, but there is certainly a massive dwarf orgy; complete with prosthetic penises, apparent intoxication, and deep shame in the actor's eyes. It's really what makes the movie into a total train wreck you would think it should be going into it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, can anyone advice me where can i get to download the full version of the film ?

Anonymous said...

yes go to:

a friend