Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): Some thoughts

Snow White is #49 on the AFI list. It’s there because it was, as you probably know, the first feature-length animated movie. We’d seen it as kids, naturally, and I actually saw it again in the theater when it was re-released at some point in the 90s. Either way, it had been a while. I’m not going to review it, but just throw out some of the things we noticed/thought about while watching it.

  • How come I never noticed that it’s “dwarfs”? Shouldn’t it be “dwarves”? Huh.
  • The animation, when you consider that the thing was made in 1937, is really, really nice and well-done. Obviously not up to snuff with today’s technology, but the detail is quite clear, usually.
  • We noticed that the animals have a much more infantile/cartoonish look than their more modern counterparts, ie. in Sleeping Beauty and so forth.
  • Snow White still has possibly the most annoying voice of any cartoon, ever.
  • Most of the dialogue is in rhyme, particularly if it’s leading up to a musical number!
  • Prince Charming kinda looks like a girl. Clearly, they got better at the princes later on.
  • They really drag some scenes out, which I find unnecessary, given that the queen actually makes three separate attempts on Snow White’s life (in the story), and they only use the last, “successful” one for the movie. That’s kinda lame.
  • Keep your eyes peeled (should you watch this again for any reason) for a moment of racial stereotyping about half-way through.

Overall, still not my favorite Disney classic, but part of what’s cool about watching movies within the context of the AFI list is trying to pay attention to and appreciate those aspects of the film that make it important. The animation and sound quality (obviously re-mastered at this point, but still) are really quite extraordinary when you consider the year, and the fact that sound in movies (“talkies, etc.) was only about a decade old in 1937. It was interesting to me how various aspects of the animated characters themselves seemed to mirror the fact that Disney animation was in its infancy, with pretty much “everyone” except the Evil Stepmother (and other “evil” counterparts) looking very wide-eyed and baby-faced.  I think that watching Snow White somewhat critically will make re-watching everything that came after a more interesting experience. ‘Cause the kid’s movies are just around the corner, folks. Oh boy.


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