Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs {1937}

{Animated Disney Film #1 of 52}

Yesterday marked the beginning of my attempt to watch all of the major, theatrically released Disney animated films. Of course, it started with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs...a film I've been watching since I was very young.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated film ever, basically. Before it was released, the media was super skeptical and called it "Disney's folly." How ironic is that? It was a risk, definitely, but look at what its success brought about: the massive monster that is the Disney empire. :) While watching it, I was trying to think about it in a historical context. The late 30s...films like Wife vs. Secretary, You Can't Take It With You, and The Adventures of Robin Hood were being released (give or take a year or two)...the movies were full of Shirley Temple, Clark Gable, and platinum blonde Jean Harlow.

Okay, first of all, I can see why audiences were so impressed with Snow White. Not only was it significant because it was a 90 minute film instead of a short, but it's just a beautiful, clever, fun movie. In a documentary in the special features, they talk about how Walt Disney wanted it to not only be funny, but to have heart and to include joy and sadness that the audience could really connect with. Well, I think he succeeded with all of that.

I cannot wrap my head around all of the work that went into animation like this, and I'm blown away by it all. Even crazier is the fact that this is their first big attempt, and they did it so well. I love the beautiful scenic shots, like the ones of the cottage. They look so perfect anyway, but when you look even closer, you see the little creek shimmering realistically. And I love how Snow White's hair is just the slightest bit blurred around the edges (I just noticed that this time. Not sure if it's intentional or not, but I like it :).

I'm personally not too crazy about operatic style singing, and Snow White's voice almost veers a little too far in that direction for my taste. But her singing voice is perfectly 30s, you know? She's not supposed to sound like Mandy Moore (not that I have anything against her! She's perfect as Rapunzel). And I do love the songs in this film.

Snow White reminds me so much of Shirley Temple. I wonder if the animators were inspired by her? I've seen pictures and video of her at the premiere (arm in arm with a couple of costumed dwarfs, nonetheless! :), but I'm not sure if there's a bigger connection there. Snow White's speaking voice and so many of her mannerisms are so Shirley Temple-ish.

A couple of comments about other characters...the Evil Queen: fairest of them all? I don't think so. Not in that outfit. :) {With that awful black-looking thing that covers her hair! What are those called?} I do see some 30s Hollywood starlet influences in her, though: her Bette Davis eyes and those skinny, severely shaped eyebrows. Also, I'm glad that Disney has improved on their princes over the years...this one (unnamed) has kind of a feminine-looking face. :)

I had forgotten how funny this movie can be. I love how Doc is constantly getting words and phrases mixed up..."Look at our stable! Er...table!" And please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks Seven Brides for Seven Brothers majorly borrows from Snow White. There are so many similarities there: the new lady in the house making the seven (!) brothers/dwarfs wash up and learn table manners. Though Snow White is far too sweet and smiley to ever turn the table over in frustration like Milly does. :)

There are certain parts of this movie that I remember so vividly and that bring back memories of watching it as a kid. I remember how scary Snow White's run through the forest was when the branches were reaching out to get her. I remember loving how the woodland creatures helped her clean up the cottage- like when one of the squirrels uses his tail as a bottle brush. :) And I clearly remember the awful looking texture of the Evil Queen's potion...I can remember imagining how bad it must have smelled because it looked so creepy. :)

So...I'm really bad at writing reviews. :) This is how most of my Disney film posts will be, I'm afraid...sort of rambling and nostalgic. Until I get to one I haven't seen before, anyway! Hope you guys don't mind. I'll be back within the next week or two with my thoughts on Pinocchio!

Until next time,


  1. Ah-ha! And thus begins Kristin's animated-Disney-movie-marathon. ;)

  2. Yay! Watching all the (theatrically-released) Disney videos is a goal of mine, as well! I want to see them all in order, which is slowing me down a bit.

    I love this film! It is absolutely fabulous for being the first full-length animated film AND being all hand drawn (no short cuts back then!) and in the thirties. I have a big soft spot for 30's films, and this is no exception.

    Would love if you would post about each Disney film after you see it! =]

    1. 30s films really are special, aren't they? :)

      I'm going to try my best to post about each one after I watch it! We'll see.

  3. Well said -- I love that you are considering this film in the context of the 1930s...I think that is SO important. :)

  4. I love Snow White! Where did you find the movie?

    1. I own the DVD- I bought it last year (or maybe the year before?) when it was released from the vault. :)

  5. Excellent review! I enjoyed the way you compared it a bit to 30s live action films, because that's totally what I do. Still waiting for this film to come in at the library so I can watch and review it.
    Oh, and I think the black thing the Evil Queen wears is called a wimple...but I could be wrong. And I agree - with that scowl on her face all the time, she's no prize. ;)


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