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Animation / Hófehér

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Snow White with a dark twist

Hófehér is a Hungarian animated film created by Pannonia Film Studio in 1983. It's a bizarre, dark, satirical film based on the tale of Snow White, taking some cues from the Disney adaptation.

Once upon a time in a kingdom far away, a Queen wishes for a child with "hair white like snow and eyes red like blood". But before she could give birth, she gets poisoned by her evil handmaiden Arrogancia, who then proceeds to marry and then murder the senile King too. On Arrogancia's request (to create a cover story that the Queen died in childbirth), the castle's Mad Scientist creates an Artificial Human to become the royal heir. The child, named Hófehér (Snow White) due to her white hair, is abandoned by Arrogancia and gets raised by the castle's blacksmith.

Hófehér grows into a large, incredibly strong, but kind-hearted woman. But when the near-sighted prince of the neighboring kingdom accidentally proposes to her, the jealous Arrogancia hires a huntsman to take Hófehér to the forest and kill her. The strong girl escapes from the huntsman and meets seven xenophobic, misogynistic dwarfs who reluctantly accept her to their home. The clumsy Hófehér wrecks the dwarfs' house, and the dwarfs ask Arrogancia to help them get rid of her.

The film is noted for its bizarre, adult-oriented humor - which is much funnier if you actually lived in the Communist Bloc. It is considered a Cult Classic in Hungary.

The film has examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: Hófehér bakes an apple pie which Arrogancia tastes, and seemingly dies from it. She turns out to be alive.
  • Alternate Species Counterpart: The dwarfs share character designs, voice actors and some personality traits with seven human characters.
    • Vasárnap (Sunday) is the King: the oldest dwarf and The Leader, with a Hair-Trigger Temper and a hatred for women.
    • Szombat (Saturday) is the Professor: a smart dwarf who is jealous of Vasárnap's position and wants to take advantage of Hófehér staying with them.
    • Péntek (Friday) is the Duke: an unfriendly dwarf who wants to get rid of Hófehér.
    • Csütörtök (Thursday) is the chef: a chubby, cheerful dwarf.
    • Szerda (Wednesday) is the huntsman: a lecherous dwarf who hits on Hófehér.
    • Kedd (Tuesday) is the blacksmith: a bulky, friendly but not too bright dwarf.
    • Hétfő (Monday) is Prince Alfonz: a childish, naive dwarf who likes Hófehér a little more than the others.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The Professor has green skin fitting for his toad-like appearance, whereas the Queen has purplish-blue skin.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: The Professor shows an apple to Hófehér, and then tells her that if she kisses his elbow, she can have a bite of it. We then hear him screaming "Not my elbow, the apple!"
  • Artificial Human: Hófehér was created by the Professor from a chicken egg.
  • Bald of Evil: Arrogancia has no hair, but she covers her baldness under a balaclava (similar to the Evil Queen's hood in the Disney movie). The Professor gives her hair implants at the makeover near the end of the film.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Arrogancia gets to marry Prince Alfonz and become an empress as she planned.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted. The only character who can be called beautiful is Arrogancia, rotten to the core, whereas the only nice character, Hófehér, is a big and unattractive woman.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The film ends on a very cynical note with Prince Alfonz dismissing Hófehér and marrying the beautiful but evil Arrogancia instead. Even this cannot break Hófehér's heart - but learning that the dwarfs betrayed her to Arrogancia does. But then, to soften the Downer Ending, the dwarfs get a change of heart, comfort her and let her live with them.
  • Black Comedy: The film basically runs on this kind of humor.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: The King throws his chickens out of the castle window to carry the good news of the birth of his heir, believing they are messenger pigeons.
  • Black Widow: Arrogancia seduces and murders the King.
  • Blind and the Beast: Prince Alfonz is near-sighted and infatuated with the ugly Hófehér. When his eyes get cured he immediately abandons her, falling for the beautiful but evil Arrogancia instead.
  • Blind Mistake: The near-sighted Prince Alfonz is prone to this.
  • Butt-Monkey: It seems the entire world is against poor Hófehér. It doesn't seem to break her. Her incredible strength also helps.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Hófehér's already immense strength increases from the hard work she has to do in the castle.
  • Children Are Innocent: Hófehér is the youngest character, and the only one that's not mean and cynical.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Arrogancia plots with both the Professor and Szatiro the huntsman to gain more power, but backstabs both of them when they succeed.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The King; for a start, he believes that his chickens are pigeons, and eats grass for dinner.
  • Crapsack World: Every character in the setting is either evil and manipulative or completely insane. Hófehér is the only one that's kindhearted, but she's also hopelessly naive.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: The entire kingdom has about a few dozen citizens. It is heavily implied early in the movie that the rest has been executed for various reasons. The shortage becomes a serious problem when they realize they don't have an army to invade the neighboring kingdom.
  • Darker and Edgier: A darker, more cynical take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Also much darker than most works by Pannonia Film Studio (except, maybe, for Cat City).
  • Death by Childbirth: Hófehér is specifically created by the Professor to serve as a cover story that the Queen died while giving birth to her.
  • Disney Death: Arrogancia seems to die from Hófehér's apple pie. The Professor reveals she's just allergic to baking powder and resurrects her with some vinegar.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Hófehér is incredibly strong, constantly causing accidents and ultimately wrecking the dwarfs' house.
  • Evil Genius: The Professor is a Mad Scientist and one of the smartest people in the castle, plotting with Arrogancia to gain more power.
  • Explosive Breeder: One of the queens in the opening montage has six babies. When pricking her finger, instead of wishing for a child, she just exclaims "Oh my god, not another kid!"
  • Fantastic Racism: Dwarfs hate humans, or as they call them, "giants".
  • Fetish: The Professor gets an odd satisfaction from being kissed... on the elbow. It becomes downright disturbing when he asks Hófehér - who is still a child at that point - to do it for him.
  • Fingore: In the opening montage, several queens prick their fingers with a needle and wish for a child. One of them stabs the needle right through her finger, with blood spraying out.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: A dark, cynical parody of the tale of Snow White.
  • Gentle Giant: Hófehér is by far the largest person in the kingdom, but she's also the most kindhearted. She has her mean moments though, such as kicking the huntsman in the butt for getting the floor dirty.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Arrogancia is a parody of the Evil Queen from the original fairy tale, and just as evil as her original counterpart.
  • Gossipy Hens: Rezonancia and Prevencia, the two servants.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The King can easily lose his cool for various reasons, including: having a daughter, eating meat, but most prominently, pointing out to him that his pigeons are actually chickens. Vasárnap, his dwarf counterpart, has a similarly bad temper.
  • Heir Club for Men: The King gets offended that his heir is a girl rather than a boy.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: The dwarfs, especially Vasárnap and Péntek, cannot stand women, and Szombat also believes they are only good for keeping the house clean.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Hófehér serves some tea with rum to the dwarfs, who all get very drunk and show extreme emotions.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Dwarfs are very mean to Hófehér all the way, but when she finally breaks down crying, they comfort her and accept her to their house.
  • King of Beasts: The King's name, "Leo the Lion-smell", is a nod to this trope (while also a reference to "Richard the Lionheart").
  • The Klutz: Hófehér wrecks the dwarfs' house when trying to clean it.
  • The Leader: Vasárnap, the oldest dwarf, is also their leader.
  • Lethal Chef: Hófehér is a terrible cook (which is also a sign of her being unfeminine); she burns the eggs she cooks for the dwarfs, and then accidentally poisons Arrogancia with an apple pie.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The King's fate. Upon eating a big, meaty dinner, complete with a chicken gut cake for dessert, he literally explodes from it, with his remains scattered over the corridor.
  • Mad Scientist: The Professor performs highly dangerous experiments in the dungeons of the royal castle.
  • Master of Illusion: The Professor employs practical effects to make the impression that he's a powerful sorcerer. He pretends to open the door with a spell when it's actually a rope tied to his back, and hides a talking parrot behind a regular mirror to pass it as a Magic Mirror, among others.
  • Meaningful Name: Hófehér has snow white hair; Arrogancia, the wicked queen, is an arrogant woman; Szatiro, the huntsman is a pervert ("szatír" is a Hungarian expression for a sex offender).
  • Men Can't Keep House: Subverted. The dwarfs initially discuss that it's good to have a woman in the house because she will be good at cleaning - but a gigantic woman who's also The Klutz is much worse at cleaning than the dwarfs are.
  • Narcissist: One trait Arrogancia shares with the original Evil Queen is her vanity.
  • Plot Allergy: Arrogancia is allergic to baking powder, which makes her faint (and seemingly die) from Hófehér's apple pie.
  • The Pollyanna: The naive, innocent Hófehér doesn't seem to mind how to the world treats her like garbage, at least until the very end when she learns the dwarfs betrayed her to Arrogancia.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Inverted. The red-eyed albino Hófehér is the only kindhearted woman in a Crapsack World.
  • Revenge Is a Dish Best Served: Arrogancia poisons the King by feeding him a cake baked from chicken guts. Specifically, the guts of his favorite chicken.
  • Royally Screwed Up: The King is a scatterbrained old man. The Queen is an emotionless, apathetic woman. And both get murdered by an evil handmaiden who takes over the kingdom.
  • Russian Reversal: In this version, Hófehér (accidentally) poisons the wicked queen.
  • Sanity Ball: Arrogancia and the Professor constantly toss it to each other.
  • Scatterbrained Senior: Whatever sanity the King had when he was younger, he lost it with old age.
  • Shaped Like Itself: One of the queens in the opening montage wishes for a child with "blood red like blood".
  • Social Climber: Arrogancia starts out as a mere lady-in-waiting to the Queen. She improves her social status by murdering the Queen and marrying the King, then murdering the King as well to become the ruler of the country. She doesn't stop there, as she intends to marry the prince of the neighboring kingdom to become an empress.
  • Straw Vegetarian: The King is a scrawny, pale old man who eats grass and flowers. When Arrogancia force-feeds him a sausage, he immediately develops an addiction to meat. The sudden switch in diet is what kills him.
  • Super-Strength: Hófehér, as a little girl, breaks the blacksmith's anvil with a single hit with a mallet. The Professor mentions that it's due to the yeast he added to the chicken egg when creating her. The hard work she's forced to do further increases her strength.
  • Theme Naming: The seven dwarfs are named after the days of the week. The names also indicate their ages, Sunday being the oldest and Monday being the youngest. When they let Hófehér stay with them as a honorary dwarf, one of them suggests she should be renamed "Egész Héten" ("Whole Week") to keep the theme.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: At the end of the film, the dwarfs forgive Hófehér and let her stay in their house.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Arrogancia tends to reward those who help her by dismissal, humiliation and threats of execution, as both Szatiro and the Professor find out.
  • World of Jerkass: Everyone in this story, apart from Hófehér, is very mean-spirited, if not downright sociopathic.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: One of the dwarfs starts singing the song "Heigh-Ho" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs only to be told by another to shut up because the song is copyrighted.