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Queen of Fables - The Story of Grimhilde 白雪皇后の故事

Updated: Mar 20


Grimhilde, The Evil Queen, also known as the Wicked Queen or just the Queen, is a fictional character who appears in Walt Disney Productions' first animated feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and a villain character in the extended Disney's Snow White franchise. She is based on the Evil Queen character from the German fairy tale "Snow White".

In the film, similar to the Brothers Grimm story it is based on, the Evil Queen is cold, cruel, and extremely vain, owning a magic mirror, and obsessively desiring to remain the "fairest in the land". She becomes madly envious over the beauty of her stepdaughter, Princess Snow White, as well as the attentions of the Prince from another land; such love triangle element is one of Disney's changes to the story. This leads her to plot the death of Snow White and ultimately on the path to her own demise, which in the film is indirectly caused by the Seven Dwarfs. The film's version of the Queen character uses her dark magic powers to actually transform herself into an old woman instead of just taking a disguise like in the Grimms' story; this appearance of hers is commonly referred to as the Wicked Witch or alternatively as the Old Hag or just the Witch in the stepmother's disguised form. The Queen dies in the film, but lives on in a variety of non-canonical Disney works.

This version of the fairy tale character has been very well received by film critics and the public, and is considered one of Disney's most iconic and menacing villains.

In another land, far away, many, many years ago, about the time of fairy tales of castles, knights, fair maidens, romance, magic and witches, a mysterious and icily beautiful woman with magical powers (a 1938 promotional brochure suggests that she is able to work her witchcraft having sold "herself body and soul to the bad spirits" of Germany's Harz mountains) has gained her royal position by marrying the widowed King, giving her rule over his kingdom before he died. "From that time on the cruel Queen ruled all alone, her every word was law, and all trembled in mortal fear of her anger." The vain Queen owned a magical mirror with which she could look upon whatever she wished. The Magic Mirror shows a haunted, smokey face of her familiar demon which replies to the Queen's requests. She regularly asks the mirror who is the fairest in the realm ("Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?" which is often misquoted as "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all"), and the mirror would always reply that she is. The Queen has magical power only over her own domain, which is the castle.

One day, however, the mirror tells her that there is a new fairest woman in the land, her 14-year-old stepdaughter, Princess Snow White. She became obsessively jealous of the princess' emerging beauty, therefore turning her into a scullery maid in her own home. After observing the handsome Prince from another kingdom singing a love song to Snow White, the proud Queen falls in a jealous rage. She commands her faithful Huntsman, Humbert, to take the princess deep into the forest and kill her. He is also ordered to bring back her heart in a box to prove that he had done so. But Humbert cannot bear to kill the young princess upon realizing that she is impervious to harm, so he tells Snow White of the Queen's plot and tells her to run away and never to come back. To escape the penalty, he comes back with a pig's heart and gives it to the Queen. When she questions her mirror, it again replies that Snow White is the fairest in the land, and that she is living at the cottage of the Seven Dwarfs, revealing that the box contains the heart of a pig. The Dwarfs are fearful of the Queen's black magic but decide to take in Snow White anyway.

Furious that Humbert tricked her, the Queen decides that first Snow White shall die by her own hand and at any cost. She goes down the dungeon to her secret room where she practices her dark magic, complete with a pet raven that "knows all her secrets," and in desperation uses her spellbook and cauldron to mix a potion that transforms her into a hag. Her beauty is shrouded in ugliness and age, though presumably reversible. She then conjures a poison apple, which will cause "the Sleeping Death", and proceeds to leave the castle via a moat boat. She is sure that no one would know or perform the counter-curse to her spell, and believes the Dwarfs would bury her rival alive, thinking her dead. The Queen comes to the cottage, followed by two vicious vultures, and finds Snow White baking a pie for Grumpy the dwarf. Somehow Snow White's animal friends realize that the old hag is the Queen. After an unsuccessful attempt to warn Snow White by attacking the Queen, they go to warn the Dwarfs of the Queen's arrival. The Queen tricks the princess into letting her inside the cottage and eating the bewitched apple, telling her that it is a magic wishing apple. Snow White takes a bite and falls to the floor, apparently dead.

The Queen rejoices in her victory, but is soon discovered by the angry Seven Dwarfs, who grab pickaxes and chase her deep into the forest as a great storm begins. She climbs up into the mountains, where she gets trapped upon a precipice that overlooks a seemingly bottomless canyon. She tries to push down a large boulder to crush the approaching Dwarfs. Before she can do so, a lightning bolt strikes between her and the boulder, destroying the precipice and sending the Queen (along with the boulder) down the cliff to her death, screaming while she falls to the jagged rocks below. As the Dwarfs look wide-eyed over the cliff's edge, they cannot see her, but the vultures descend into the chasm. The Queen's dark reign is over, and her castle is then taken over by the revived Snow White and the Prince who broke the spell. (A 1936 pre-release Good Housekeeping novelization by Dorothy Ann Blank, a member of the film's story team, affirms that the Queen in fact dies: "Far below, in a chasm as dark as her own wicked soul, lay the body of the hateful Queen.")


This is Italian cosplayer Cristina Cotta's rendition of the iconic Queen. The character is truly stunning in its Venetian edition. Cristina made all of her own costumes. As with most of my travel photos, this one is done in 100% natural lighting only, on the busy streets of Venice...


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