Anthony's Film Review
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Walt Disney's first feature-length animated film is truly a timeless classic...
When it comes to Walt Disney, I like to describe him in three ways: a great animator, a visionary pioneer, and an artistic genius. You could certainly see this if you watch any animated film from the Disney studio. But if you really want to understand and appreciate Mr. Disney, you have to delve into his early life and career. I did this by visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California. One of the exhibits there was dedicated to the making of his first-ever feature-length animated film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. When I saw the things on display, like conceptual sketches, colored background panels, individual frames for animated characters, and even the color palette for the paints used, I couldn't help but be in awe about Disney's efforts to break new ground.
I finally got around to seeing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with the knowledge I gained from that museum visit. Watching the film was as inspiring as learning about its making. Simply put, the film is just beautiful to look at. The moving pictures are stunning, the colors are vivid, and the characters come alive. Snow White was groundbreaking back in the 1930s, with animation that was feature length and more marvelous than any animation that came before it. It's just amazing.
The story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is, like the original story from the Brothers Grimm, a fairy tale. Snow White is a beautiful maiden whose wicked stepmother, the Queen, is jealous of her beauty. The Queen dresses Snow White in rags and makes her do menial labor. But one day, the Queen wishes to kill Snow White in order to maintain her throne and not let it pass down to Snow White. The young maiden escapes with her life and ends up taking shelter in a cottage owned by seven dwarfs: Sleepy, Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful, and Doc. (If you can't remember all these seven names by heart, don't worry. Plenty of people have trouble with them.)
While the movie does have a plot, it's simple at best. You can easily sum up the story from beginning to end in just a short paragraph. That doesn't mean the movie is boring. If anything, the film spends plenty of time making certain scenes interesting, including Snow White cleaning the dwarfs' house and the dwarfs slowly discovering the cleanliness of the house before seeing Snow White sleeping in some of their beds. (Remember, the dwarfs are short, so the much taller Snow White has to lie down with her body on top of several beds at once.) And let's not forget the two scenes late in the film that no one will forget: the poison apple and the kiss from a handsome prince.
As the first full-length Disney animated film, Snow White established some elements that would become familiar parts of the formula characterizing many Disney animated films. You have the beautiful princess and the handsome prince. You have some element of fantasy, whether it is drawn from classic folklore or involves anthropomorphic animals. Then there's the music. In Snow White, the maiden is singing "Whistle While You Work" while cleaning the dwarfs' cottage while the dwarfs are singing "Heigh-Ho" while going to or from work. Even many decades after the original release of this film, many people recognize these songs.
So what can I say? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a great film for its technical breakthroughs and artistic mastery. It's visually pleasing, emotionally appealing, and heartwarmingly funny. My only regret is that I never saw this film as a little boy. It was probably because I didn't have too many opportunities to watch movies growing up, or maybe it's because I thought it seemed too "girly" for a child like me. In any event, I finally got around to seeing it, and I now join the many people who consider Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to be a timeless groundbreaking classic, among both animated films and films in general.
For more information about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, visit the Internet Movie Database.