It’s time to kick off this challenge with a one of the classics. So without further ado, here’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…
Once Upon a Time…
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the very first full-length animated feature film released
by Walt Disney Pictures, based on the Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale of the same name. It wasn’t even just a first for Walt Disney, it was the world’s first full-length animated feature film. Many in the film industry didn’t believe Snow White could be a commercial success because there was this opinion that animations were only for children. Walt Disney believed differently, in fact he was prepared to gamble his entire studio on the success of Snow White– a gamble which would pay off and make Snow White one of the most successful animated films in history. As a side note, the film would eventually cost $1.5 million to make, which back in the 1930s was a lot of money (and it still is!). Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937 at the Carthay Circle Theater where it received a standing ovation from the audience, proving its critics wrong. Since 1938, the film has been re-released in cinemas numerous times and in 1989 it was selected to be preserved in America’s National Film Registry, securing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ place in cinematic history.
Memories From My Childhood:
From what I can recall, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first Disney film I had ever seen. For some reason my grandparents (on my mother’s side) thought I really liked this film, so every Saturday when I went to see them, they would put the VHS (video for you young ‘uns which was before the days of DVDs, god I feel old…) of the film on. Every single Saturday. Until I was about eight. Yet despite the continuous viewings of this film, I only have vague memories of it. I remember the Heigh Ho song and that was the only song I liked in the film. There was the evil queen’s transformation, which freaked me out and the iconic apple biting scene. As you can see, I have quite the blank slate, which should make my most recent viewing interesting…
My Impressions Today:
So the film starts off with credits. All of the credits. Which is usual compared to today’s standards, where the credits are at the end of the film, but I suppose it does mean that the audience can’t walk out on credits. We then move onto the iconic fairy tale book opening, which I completely forgot about but came back to me as I watched the film. This actually quickly filled in the back story allowing us to move onto the main story, where we meet the villain- the Evil Queen (I’m capitalizing her title because didn’t give her a name and I felt bad for her…). Who as I found out, is actually really evil. I mean, her first words in the film are addressing the mirror as, ‘Slave in the mirror’. Slave in the Mirror?! I feel we missed out on an interesting side story there.. Anyways, the Evil Queen does the whole Magic Mirror thing and finds out that Snow White has beaten her in the beauty competition and she is not happy about it.
Speaking of Snow White, we are now introduced to the First Princess, while she is doing a good Cinderella impression: cleaning and singing to animals the song ‘I’m Wishing’. Now I’m going to get this out of the way, I didn’t like Snow White. She is a very passive character, who is more than happy keeping a house clean for a group of dwarfs. That’s her character in a nutshell. Oh and she believes in love at first sight. Enter the Prince, singing ‘One Song’, who apparently instantly loves Snow White but for some reason just leaves. Wow, courting in the medieval era was intense.
Now the Evil Queen sees this exchange which doesn’t make Snow White her favourite
person. In fact, the Evil Queen someones her Huntsman and tells him to take Snow White
into the forest to pick flowers and to kill her. A little extreme but I suppose it certainly resolves the whole fairest of them all issue (I told you the Evil Queen was really evil). So the Huntsman takes Snow White in the forest and tries (and fails) to kill her. He explains to Snow White that the Evil Queen wants her dead and tells her to run away. This moves us to the most creepy and in some parts scary scene in the film, which I clearly blocked out in my childhood memories.
As Snow White runs into the forest, the forest changes and becomes more horrifying: logs in a river turn into crocodiles and trees turn into monsters. Combined with the music, this is actually one of the films best scenes and certainly portrays Snow White’s terror very well. However, Snow White quickly overcomes her fear with a song- seriously, I think this girl thinks that singing will solve all of life’s problems. Eventually the animals show her a cottage, which she decides to clean up while, you guessed it, singing another song. To be honest, while I do like some of Disney’s songs, I am not a fan of Snow White’s songs but I will admit that the songs, while numerous, are actually mercifully short. There is one song I do like, which introduces us to the dwarfs, ‘Heigh Ho’. Seriously, that song is incredibly catchy and has stuck in my head since watching the film.
Now something I’ve noticed while watching Snow White is that the dwarfs sole purpose in this film is to be comedic relief, like when they investigate who is in their house or washing up for dinner. This does sometimes get a little tedious but it is a welcome change to Snow White’s continual singing. Although the dwarfs give her break by singing a song about cleaning. I know, I’m not sure how I managed to forget that either…
So while Snow White seems to be having a good time, the Evil Queen is not. She finds out that she has been tricked by the Huntsman and decides if she wants the job done, she might as well do it herself. It turns out she has a secret lair in the castle, which is filled with skulls, a raven and books on poison and the black magic- you know all the sort of things you would expect to see in a children’s film. Anyways, the Evil Queen decides to trick Snow White by disguising herself as an old woman- I’m not quite sure how the Evil Queen will win the beauty competition now, maybe she’s thinking of the principle of the matter. The transformation scene is another of the film’s highlights, completely hitting the tone of the scene perfectly with creepy sound effects and very colourful art design.
While the Evil Queen is having a productive evening, Snow White and the dwarfs are have a great time dancing to the song, quite aptly called ‘The Silly Song’. Let’s just say, this dance goes on for way to long but eventually the dwarfs decide that Snow White should be entertaining them with a story. So what does Snow White do? She sings a song. I get the impression singing is one of the only talents Snow White has. After singing ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ the gang decides to go to bed.
Now the final part of the film really speeds along, dwarfs go to work; Snow White meets
the Evil Queen/old crone; animals run to warn dwarfs who race to save her but are too late as she bite the apple. To be fair the build up and tension to the apple biting scene did make the scene more dramatic. But the film doesn’t slow down, as the dwarfs chase the Evil Queen, who in one final act of evilness tries to kill them with a large boulder. What a villain! In the end she has die,, and she does so by falling off the cliff with a high pitch screech.
The film takes a very sad tone, showing the dwarfs mourning Snow White’s apparent demise. The film then shifts again by giving us some text explain what has happened in the following months, moving the plot to the final scene, where we finally see the Prince again (who else forgot about this guy?). Apparently it has taken him the entire film to find Snow White and could only find her once she was comatose. He finally kisses her and Snow White awakens, who then proceeds to kiss everyone else to the reprise of ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’. Snow White and the Prince ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
And They All Lived Happily Ever After…
I actually enjoyed watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It wasn’t as simplistic as I expected it to be and I was surprised to see how much I had actually forgotten. I’ll admit that I still don’t like Snow White as a character, as I find her very one dimensional and way too obsessed with singing.but at least she is not just a plot device, like the Prince. The songs haven’t won me over, although ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’ certainly grows on you and ‘Heigh Ho’ is very catchy. One thing that did surprise me was how much I liked the Evil Queen. She has the most personality out of all of the characters in the film and throughout the film we see how evil she really is. It is just a shame she doesn’t get a villain’s song. Its also a little surprising how she overlooked amongst the other villains in the Disney universe.Overall the film does have a good balance comedic scenes and terrifying moments, setting a high standard for the animated films that were to follow.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has certainly given the challenge a good start and I can definitely see why it is considered a classic.
- I’m Wishing performed by Snow White.
- One Song performed by the Prince.
- With a Smile and a Song performed by Snow White.
- Whistle While You Work performed by Snow White.
- Heigh-Ho performed by the Dwarfs.
- Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum (The Dwarfs’ Washing Song) performed by the Dwarfs.
- The Dwarfs’ Yodel Song (The Silly Song) performed by the Dwarfs.
- Some Day My Prince Will Come performed by Snow White.
- Heigh-Ho (Reprise) performed by the Dwarfs.
- One Song (Reprise) performed by the Prince and the Chorus.
- Some Day My Prince Will Come (Reprise) performed by the Chorus.
A Fun Fact To Depart On…
Between 1938 and 1940 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the highest grossing film at the box office in American cinematic history. It would only be knocked off the top spot in 1940 by Gone With the Wind.
So that was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Next week, I shall be wishing on a star with Pinocchio…
I used two websites for the making of this post the Disney wikia and the Snow White wikipedia pages. All pictures were found on the Snow White IMDB page, apart from the featured image which came from theodysseyonline.com