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?”
Walt Disney’s first feature-length animated film isn’t his best, but it’s 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 production. The movie looks great and the constant intercutting between various storylines is handled beautifully.
As every Disney fan knows, it was a “do or die” project for Disney, who poured all his resources into this ambitious production. Halfway through the shooting, Disney ran out of money and an emergency bank loan allowed him to finish it.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was an enormous box office hit, 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.
In all truthfulness, this colorful production is a little on the slow side, but the depth of the backgrounds is splendid. There are lots of eye-popping visual moments. The Seven Dwarfs — amusing and very 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 really 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. Disney didn’t shy away from the dark ingredients of the Grimms’ original story. There are some effective moments of horror. While I much prefer films like Disney’s Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942), I believe that this is a highly creative production that has stood the test of time. Color, 93 minutes, Not Rated.