The first, and by far most memorable full-length animated feature from the Disney Studios, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" may have been superseded technically by many of the films that followed it. But its simple story of a charming little princess saved from the evil deeds of her wicked step-mother, the queen, by a group of seven adorable dwarfs made history when it was first released in December, 1937 and has since become an incomparable screen classic. Written by
The famous sequence where the dwarves race back to the cottage to save Snow White is filled with continuity errors:
if you pause the film just when the turtle is passed for the last time, you can see Sleepy is mounted on a stag. However, for the rest of the film he is mounted on a doe. - Bashful is originally in front of Sneezy, yet for the rest of the chase the order is mysteriously reversed. - In another scene, just before Snow White bites the apple, Sleepy and Sneezy are seen on the deer, while Bashful is riding another deer by himself (Sleepy and Bashful have been switched). - In one scene, the whole order of the dwarves is changed (Dopey riding a stag, Sneezy sitting alone on a doe...)
Slave in the magic mirror, come from the farthest space, through wind and darkness I summon thee. Speak! Let me see thy face.
What wouldst thou know, my Queen?
Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?
Famed is thy beauty, Majesty. But hold, a lovely maid I see. Rags cannot hide her gentle grace. Alas, she is more fair than thee.
Alas for her! Reveal her name.
Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow.
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Unusual for a film of this era, the words "THE END" never appear on screen. See more »
There isn't much that hasn't already been said about "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", Walt Disney's first feature length animated film. Suffice it to say that it not only fulfilled the studio's hopes beyond their wildest dreams, it made possible the Disney films that followed it. From the famous Grimm fairy tale about a beautiful princess who flees her jealous stepmother and finds refuge with seven friendly dwarfs, Walt Disney created a cinematic milestone. At the time the film was in production until the day it was released, rival producers were supposedly referring to it as "Disney's Folly".Although this myth has been recently debunked in film historian JB. Kaufman's magnificent new book (''The Fairest One Of All:The Making Of Walt Disney's Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs''Weldon Owen/Disney Press, 2012)it's true that only after it's huge success, did fellow movie makers attempt their own full-length cartoon features. Upon it's debut, at Hollywood's Carthay Circle theater, (December 21, 1937)the film was embraced both by critics and audiences, grossing many times it's then record (for an animated film) $1.5 million budget. Eight successful reissues have kept the movie in the public consciousness now for over six decades, during which time the field of animation has grown by leaps and bounds. Still. despite the cinematic advances and the passage of time, "Snow White" stands alone. While the classic story is but a framework for the film (a fact which troubled me for years), "Snow White" can be fully enjoyed for the pioneer it truly is.
Along with a splendid cast of voices headed by Adriana Caselotti (Snow White) Harry Stockwell (father of Guy and Dean, as the Prince) and Lucille La Verne (The Queen), there are songs which can truly be called timeless: "Whistle While You Work", "Heigh Ho", "Some Day My Prince Will Come", etc.). Much time and effort went toward developing the characters of the Seven Dwarfs and giving each a distinct personality (absent in the original story) which went a long way in making audiences care for Snow White's plight. Interestingly enough, although the fairy tale was toned down considerably to make it more "family friendly", the overzealous way in which the film makers transformed the Wicked Queen into a hideous hag at the climax was the subject of an incredible amount of controversy at the time. In fact, it was under a partial ban in England which made it off-limits to children under 16 years of age! Nevertheless, it was the recipient of a special Academy Award in 1938.
To go on about the impact made by the film would be redundant. It simply must be seen to be appreciated. In 2001, it was released on DVD as the first of Disney's "Platinum Editions". And many months before it was in stores, there was great speculation about the content. All the anticipation was justified when the DVD finally arrived. Critics and consumers were overwhelmed (just like the audiences back in 1937) with both the content and the painstaking restoration (beyond that done for it's 50th anniversary reissue) and made it THE DVD for the subsequent holiday season. Without going into detail, it looks as if it were made yesterday, and sounds better than a film of this vintage could ever be expected to. But the streamlining has not diminished it's charm--only accentuated it. And when you think (before you are drawn into the story, and you ARE) that "Snow White", unlike today's computer-drawn animated features was entirely done by hand, that makes it even more of a miracle.In one scene, when Snow White is scrubbing the steps of the Castle, and pours water from a bucket on them, the effect is remarkable-and that one, near the beginning, is just one small sample of the film's artistry.Back to the DVD. Instead of listing the already well publicized bonus features, let me say that this "Platinum Edition" is like a self-contained history of the film, with hours worth of delights the most astounding being a pieced-together commentary by Walt Disney himself. Out of print for years, it is well worth the effort and expense to find. And although Disney made it a point to announce that they planned to go even further with their subsequent "Platinum Editions", they have yet to top this one. And I doubt they ever will. Incidentally, this year marks the film's 75th anniversary, and I can think of no better way to celebrate this movie milestone than picking up Professor Kaufman's beautiful new books The second volume '' Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs:The Art And Creation Of Walt Disney's Classic Animated film''is also published by Weldon Owen/Disney Press.It's a very extensive and fully detailed catalog of the ''Snow White'' exhibition,(currently at the Walt Disney museum in San Francisco,California).Here, the emphasis is more on the beautiful art as well as rough sketches and background paintings. Along with it's companion book ''The Fairest One Of All'' it will educate and enchant anyone who cares about the history of Film, Disney Animation and especially ''Snow White'' They are, without a doubt,the definitive tributes to a Timeless Classic, and together, they make perfect souveniers for both the film's 75th Anniversary and and a once in a lifetime event.
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