Friday, August 24, 2012

Snow White


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Producer: Walt Disney
Starring: The Disney animation team

When one mentions films that were game changers, one would be remiss to leave this film off the list. Despite the fact that it is not the strongest film Disney ever made, its place in film history is indisputable. People laughed at Walt Disney when he said he could get audiences to sit through a feature length animated film. They thought he was nuts. And yet, on its release in 1937, audiences went nuts for Snow White, cementing Disney’s place in the pantheon of epic movie studios.

The film opens with what has now become the classic Disney shot of the overly ornate book with the ridiculously fancy font and the first few lines of the classic fairy tale. It then cuts to the animated castle, and the world of the fairy tale is established.

What struck me most when rewatching this for the first time in at least two decades was the animation. While the animation for Snow White herself wasn’t perfect (it’s a little jittery and lacks an expected smoothness), the animation in many other parts of the film is downright impressive. There are fire effects and water effects and smoke effects and rain effects that could be used to teach master classes in how to animate. The backgrounds are rich and elegant and downright gorgeous. Perhaps most impressive of all are the characters of the dwarves and their woodland friends. One gets the sense that the animators responsible for making the film were given a free license to do whatever crazy nonsense they wanted to, and the creativity that resulted from this freedom is truly impressive. This was not simply a live action movie told through illustrations. The animators make it a point to do things with their characters that are simply not possible to do in a live action film. This results in very satisfying animation; the animation is put to the best possible use. Take the scene where the dwarves and Snow White dance at night – tremendously creative. The scene where the Evil Queen transforms into the old hag is downright impressive. And the intercutting in the climactic sequences between the dwarves and the Evil Queen is very effective.


While the technical advances made with this movie are unrivaled, the plot is a little flimsy, especially in comparison to later Disney fare. The Evil Queen is a tremendously strong villain and easily the most interesting thing going on in the film, but she suffers from lack of screen time. The movie lags in the middle, when it is introducing Snow White to the seven dwarves, and doesn’t pick up again until the Evil Queen re-enters the plot. Apparently every single Disney Princess stereotype was established in this film, as Snow White is the most ridiculously inept princess ever, constantly followed by woodland creatures doing her every bidding. Finally, there is the most useless Prince in the world, who makes an appearance very early on, then does nothing for the rest of the film, yet is still considered a hero because Snow White can only be saved “by true love’s first kiss.” So the dude sees Snow White, then kisses her later when he thinks she’s dead, and for this, is celebrated. What?!?!?


Despite the flaws in the plot, it is simply impossible to deny that had it not been for Snow White and its effects, an entire genre of filmmaking would not have been established. Again, while it itself is not a perfect film, the animation in Snow White is still impressive, and it brought forth to the world the concept of the Disney fairy tale, a theme upon which an entire commercial empire was built. It is worthwhile to revisit the progenitor of this empire.

Plus the songs are still really catchy.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10


  1. Here is a plot change for you:
    Snow White has been working hard to get Grumpy to like her and in the end he gives in, he does love her. So when Snow White lies poisoned it is Grumpy who steps up and gives he the kiss of true love and they live happily ever after with lots of cute little grumpy princes.
    Great review!

    1. I'd love to see Disney make THAT movie!!

  2. Random interesting trivia about the animation in Snow White: they reused the exact same frames in Robin Hood, but painted Maid Marian's figure over Snow White's. This youtube video shows that, plus the same thing happening in The Aristocats and Jungle Book!

  3. Hey, it's a tough job to be a prince. In addition to kissing random girls, sometimes you have to dance around naked in a Vegas hotel suite, too.