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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Topic Started: Mar 7 2015, 11:06 AM (289 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) Dir. David Hand (and a bunch of other guys)

Wonderful World of Walt Disney #01

This is another film that I think is taken for granted; it's actually one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a marvel of creative filmmaking. When you look at the importance and popularity of animated films today, you can draw that back in a straight line directly to this one movie, dubbed "Disney's Folly" during production. I don't think Walt Disney ever made a better film; everything he did during the 1930s seems to have been a warmup for this, his first feature-length production.

And you know, as I prepared to write this review, I kept thinking, "I wish I could put this in the Fantasy area of the Balcony; it belongs there more than it does in the Cartoon area. Disney used animation as a way of bringing the fantasy to life." Finally I realized that I can pretty much do anything I want to 'round here, and Snow White fits better over here.

The story is thin (and familiar); the evil stepmother, Queen of someplace or other, hates her beautiful step-daughter and so orders a huntsman to take her out in the woods, kill her, and bring back her heart in box. The huntsman can't do it (although he has no problem doing it to a pig) and so he leaves her in the woods, where she finds a very dirty li'l house with seven tiny beds that turn out to belong to a half-dozen-plus-one pack of diamond miners who are Little People. (They're not sure why they mine diamonds, and just toss 'em in a big vault, which they carefully lock but then leave the key hanging next to the door.) The evil queen discovers the huntsman's ruse (that magic mirror really is a buttinsky), transforms herself into an old hag, and brings along a poisoned apple. Prince Charming arrives too late to save her: or does he?

Actually, the film is a series of set pieces (which could be worked on by different animators) but that doesn't work to the film's detriment. Sequences in which Snow White is lost and frightened in the woods (are those LOGS or CROCODILES?!) and where the queen becomes the hag are way, way more frightening than anything that had been showed in American horror films to that time. The dwarfs - given names and personalities to match - hold their own, and actually while Snow White herself is pretty and kind of feisty (moreso than some people would have you believe these days) Charming is rather dull. Some of the visual gags are clever (I like the noses popping up over the beds) and the songs were instant classics, including Some Day My Prince Will Come, Heigh-Ho, and Whistle While You Work.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Grumpy: "All women is poison! They're full of wicked wiles!"
Bashful: "What are wicked wiles?"
Grumpy: "I dunno! But I'm agin 'em!"

I'm sure you all know what Walt went through to make this thing; years of effort, numerous deleted sequences, enormous expense as the budget kept ballooning; and the consensus that audiences wouldn't sit still for a 90 min. cartoon. Man, was he focused: he knew what he wanted and he trusted his instincts and in the end, he delivered a film that was a masterpiece, that was loved by audiences then, and that has been embraced by every generation since.

I've got a lot of books on the making of this, and virtually every page, every cel, every pencil test is a work of art. The Blu-ray is phenomenal, with a wealth of bonus material and a few additional Disney short cartoons. Fantasia is probably my favorite Disney film, but this is the one I admire most. It's the fairest one of all.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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JazzGuyy
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While this movie certainly looks beautiful and revolutionized the status of the animated cartoon, I have never been the fan that many are. The movie has always seemed to me to have about 20 minutes of story line which is then padded out to feature length. It just doesn't flow for me. Caselotti's singing has always left me cold too.
TANSTAAFL!
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Frank Hale
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A lot of Disney's animated work strikes me that way, although I would probably use the terms rambling and uninvolving rather than padded.

However, I think Snow White is one of the better ones, and the animation itself is nothing short of astonishing, which makes up for a lot. And I enjoy the music more than usual in Disney. The songs and orchestrations are pleasant, and the whole thing has a nice 30's feel.

We might note that Snow White was briefly the all-time box-office champ until Gone With the Wind a couple of years later.

I was happy to see the original credits restored on the Blu-Ray (although it unfortunately, like all Disney BD's, seems to take about 2 hours to load.)
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CliffClaven
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Meanwhile, Disney World put in a fancier version of the Snow White ride . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpWjGLxgW8s

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Laughing Gravy
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Well, I'm happy to report a nice-sized crowd at the Crest tonight for Snow White, most with kids, and many of the kids seemed four or five, that range. They enjoyed it, got very hushed at the climax, and one little girl a few rows ahead of me sang along with one of the songs. Awwwe!

The big thing about watching it in a crowded theatre: the jokes! All of the sight gags got laughs, from the bit where they use the turtle's belly as a washboard for laundry to Sneezy blowing Dopey through the ceiling (in fact, Sneezy was one of the hits of the night - way to go, Billy Gilbert).

Great fun.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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