Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Synopsis:

The Brothers Grimm’s 1812 immortal fairy tale, which revolves around a princess, an evil witch and seven dwarfs, gets the royal treatment from Walt Disney.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”

Disney’s first feature-length animated film is no masterpiece, but this is an impressive achievement nevertheless. As a kid, I could never muster up much enthusiasm for it, but I’m slowly becoming a fan of this beloved film. The movie looks great and the constant inter-cutting between various storylines is handled well.

So much has been written about this groundbreaking work that I’m not sure I can add anything new to what has already been said.

As we all know, it was a “do or die” project for Disney, who poured all his money and resources into this ambitious production. Halfway through filming Disney ran out of money and an emergency bank loan allowed him to finish it. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a huge hit with audiences and established Disney as one of the most powerful and influential players in Hollywood. More than eight decades later, the movie looks pretty good against today’s standards.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a little on the slow side, but the depth of the backgrounds is splendid. The transformation sequence is a visual treat. The Seven Dwarfs — fun and likable — are great too.

Being the first means that there are some things that work better than others. For example, the human characters are drawn a bit too crudely. The exception is the Evil Queen — she’s one of Disney’s best creations. And Disney really goes to town during the film’s smashing climax — there is a richness in color that is still impressive.

The songs and music (courtesy of Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, and Paul J. Smith) are extraordinarily good. “Heigh Ho” and “Whistle While You Work” tend to stay with you (I can’t explain why none of the songs received a nod from the Academy). Subsequent productions proved that Disney was a fast learner — he used the earnings from the film to push for better writing and better animation.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has plenty of elements that will delight kids and adults alike. I liked the fact that Disney didn’t shy away from the dark ingredients of the Grimms’ original story. There are some very effective moments of horror. I much prefer films like Pinocchio and Dumbo, but this movie was a great start. It’s an imaginative production that has stood the test of time. Color, 93 minutes, Not Rated.

One response to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

  1. Pingback: Revisiting Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) | Christina Wehner·

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