The new film from Spanish writer/director Pablo Berger is a silent, black-and-white film so witty, riveting, and drop-dead gorgeous that moviegoers may forget to notice that they can't hear the dialogue. Astutely, Berger has chosen to wrap his experiment around a tale everyone knows: the perils of that sweet beauty, Snow White. Here, she is Carmen (Sofia Oria), born in 1920s Seville to a mother who dies in childbirth. After the death of her grandmother, Carmen is sent to live with the paralyzed bullfighter father (Daniel Giménez Cacho) she's never met, as well as his new wife and former nurse (Maribel Verdú) — the very measure of a wicked stepmother. Eventually, of course, there will be dwarfs, but Berger's seven lugs are bullfighters, not miners, and one of them (Sergio Dorado) looks at Carmen (now played by Macarena Garcia) the way a prince looks at his princess. Don't expect Berger'sSnow White
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to play out like Grimm's tale or Disney's masterpiece. In the hardscrabble reality of the flesh-and-blood real world, living happily ever after, the filmmaker suggests, is complicated stuff.