The Brothers Grimm’s 1812 immortal fairy tale gets the royal treatment from Walt Disney.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Disney’s first feature-length animated film is no storytelling masterpiece, but it is an impressive achievement nevertheless. As a kid, I could never muster up enough enthusiasm for it. But I’m slowly becoming a fan of this beloved classic film. The movie looks great and the constant inter-cutting between the characters’ stories is handled very well — the montage is reminiscence of D. W. Griffith’s silent masterpieces Birth of a Nation and Intolerance.
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 the filming he ran out of money and an emergency bank loan allowed him to finish it. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became a box-office sensation and established Disney as one of the most powerful, and influential players in Hollywood. More than seven decades later, it looks pretty good against today’s standards.
It’s a little on the slow side, but the depth of the backgrounds is splendid. 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. The transformation sequence is a visual treat. The Seven Dwarfs are great too. Disney really goes to town during the film’s smashing climax. There is a richness in color that is still impressive.
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.
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 much prefer films like Pinocchio, Dumbo and Bambi, but this movie was a great start. Color, 93 minutes, Not Rated.