Originally a Brothers Grimm tale, this 1937 adaptation marks Disney’s first animated feature film. A beautiful princess by the name of Snow White is the envy of her wickedly vain stepmother (the queen). Fleeing for her life, Snow White stumbles across seven dwarves who help her make her way back home.
So it begins! Welcome to the very first of our Disney classics reviews and where better to start than the beginning. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs kicks us off, and can you believe this film is over 80 years old? We knew that working our way through the classic could be a real challenge given the difference in quality between the animation of the early films and the animation we’re used to now, but to be honest I was pleasantly surprised.
It seems that, despite my concerns, Snow White is still not a bad watch at all. The story, although not as fully fleshed out by today’s standards, is both interesting and a tad on the bizarre side; magic mirrors, potions that turn you into an old witch ( I’ll get to that in a minute) and an army of mischievous woodland creatures which enjoy cleaning little cottages, all come together in a strange harmony.
There’s certainly some great moments that make Snow White the classic we know and love, the first of which comes when Snow White is told of the Queen’s plot to kill her and proceeds to flee into the forest. As she runs deeper and deeper in, aimless and petrified, the trees become monstrous creatures with wicked faces, giving us a strong and somewhat realistic insight into the fear that Snow White would’ve been feeling.
The Dwarfs are what really make the film what is it, and so they should if they’re in the title I suppose. They’re calamitous, goofy, a tad arrogant, but most of all, their songs are fantastic! Truly the strongest parts of the film are the classic Hi-Ho! and the washing up song;Buddle-uddle-um-Tdum.
Snow White’s songs are where I feel the film starts to struggle. Whether it be limitations of the times or just the the style that Disney was going for, when White sings there’s always this strange reverb that makes prolonged listening rather painful. Another element I struggled to comprehend was the Queen’s plan to kill Snow White. She comes up with the ‘ingenious’ idea to turn herself into a creepy old witch and poison Snow White with a dodgy apple. During the potion making process, the Queen calls upon lightening, yes literal lightening, to zap the vial with some sort of hocus pocus. If she can call upon lightening, you know, at will, then my not cut out the middleman and just zap Snow White. Bang. Problem solved.
Other than the rather abrupt ending, Snow White still stands up today as a strong animated feature and a solid film. What a great start to Disney’s feature length animations.