Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Directed by David Hand and like, 5 sequence directors
Written by
(number 147)

The first ever full length animated movie, made by Walt Disney in three years – his wife and his brother both tried to talk him out of attempting it, and it was commonly referred to as ‘Disney’s Folly’ but he managed it and it won a special Academy award for innovation.

I watched this with Anna who had seen it probably only once a long time ago. We were both impressed with the quality of the animation. The movements are very fluid and pretty.

The story is very simple and close to the original Grimm bothers one, a charming princess is threatened by the wicked queen who is jealous of her beauty but the woodsman can’t go through with it and spares her. From then there’s a scary sequence of being lost in the woods and then she makes friends with all the cute animals of the forest and sings all sorts of songs. Anna does point out that Snow’s behaviour is a little crazy – she lets herself into the dwarves’s house, cleans it, then disbelieves them when they say they’ve already washed for dinner. She’s condescending to them, but I can kind of see where she’s coming from given the state of their house when she finds it. I’m not saying I endorse breaking into people’s houses to clean though… it would be nice if you could charm the forest animals to do cleaning for you though, don’t you think?

It’s amazing, watching this again how much it’s inspired more recent films. Leaving aside the animation that followed this innovative start, just look at the different interpretations of fairy tales that followed. La Belle et la Bete owes stylistic decisions to the design of this film, and most of the following Disney musicals start with an ‘I want’ song like Snow White sings down the wishing well. Also it made me really want to watch Enchanted because there’s so much homage to this in that film.

One thing I did notice is that it shows Snow White praying. This is such a very old movie now that I suppose it would have been normal at the time but I can’t think of a single other Disney movie which references God or religion. I’ve always found the lines around Church in the Muppet Christmas Carol quite awkward because they talk around a bible story without saying Jesus or God.

Does it make me love the people? Snow White seems very over the top now, all wide eyed innocence and walking around like she’s dancing, her hands up in the air like Anne Hathaway in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. But you still get involved in her story and there was definitely feeling from both me and Anna.

Bechdel test: The wicked queen talks to Snow White to tempt her into eating the poison apple… however the queen is not actually named, she’s Queen or Witch. What do we think? I think it kind of squeaks through but it’s definitely debatable.

Best line:
Grumpy: Angel, ha! She’s a female! And all females is poison! They’re full of wicked wiles!
Bashful: What are wicked wiles?
Grumpy: I don’t know, but I’m agin’ ’em.

State of Mind: It’s a classic, but it’s not necessarily one you need to watch a lot.

1 thought on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)”

  1. In terms of this influencing other movies, what really struck me was rewatching it after learning that it was Dario Argento’s prime inspiration when making Suspiria. There are a number of direct allusions, some of them quite gruesome (eg the Huntsman being sent to cut out Snow White’s heart – let’s just say the equivalent character in Suspiria isn’t as reticent).


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