Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (…Dwarves?). We watched Disney’s “The Diamond Edition” for whatever that is worth. It was a two disc edition that we’re not entirely sure why a second disc was justified. The extras were interesting but relatively sparse. Considering sixty years of marriage is a Diamond Anniversary, presumably that is the genesis of the coinage and not the fact that the box contains diamonds. Or scratch-repelling DVDs. Or special features of any value… Criterion, we realize you spoil us when you simply add your name and no fancy qualifiers.
This is the first film of it’s kind ever produced for the mass-market – a ninety minute animated feature. “It not only permanently established Disney as one of the foremost studios in the world but also advanced the state of animation to such a degree that it wasn’t until the advent of computer animation that anyone arguably pushed the form further” (Schneider). Essentially, that sums this Brothers Grimm tale up – an animated film that destroyed the boundaries of animation and set the bar high for any attempt at it for the next hundred years (which we haven’t even seen yet… it is that revolutionary). Part children’s entertainment, part universal human story, Snow White is not only the beginning – it’s the apex.
This was the first feature film I ever saw in a movie theater. I was terrified of the Evil Queen/Hag. Having not seen it for about 28 years, it exceeded my expectations. While this movie was in production, the vast majority of the public mocked the idea of a feature-length animated movie. The film received a standing ovation on opening night and became a huge success.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is also the first movie to have its own soundtrack and established the concept of a musical soundtrack to accompany a movie. The music in this movie quickly establishes the tone. I am especially a fan of the ominous foreshadowing happening in the score as the Queen discovers Snow White is not dead.
Disney encouraged his team to view several films while creating Snow White, most notably Romeo and Juliet. This influence is obvious during the glass coffin scene with the Prince and Snow White.
The success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs led the way to several other Disney classics, including Dumbo and Pichnoccio (also on our list). It is definitely worth a watch for the music and art, or to experience the very first film to inspire an entire genre of full feature length animated movies.
To be honest, I am not really looking forward to any of the Disney films on this list. Some of them are dated, simple, and not as great as they are made out to be as they both under and overestimate the emotional sensibilities of their audience. They want to be everything to all people, and in doing that they reuse a lot of tropes that are Disney-specific and use sentimentality, music, and effective striking images to manipulate and evoke emotions from the audience over, and over, and over again. Just a quick glance at youtube will show studies of how they do it, where they do it, and even when specific elements of films are reused (sometimes literally)
That said, this is a seminal film as it is the first commercial risk taken with animation in a feature length that was to make or break Disney as an artist and businessman. He succeeded, and this became one of the greatest films of all time, not only because of what he did that no one had ever done before but because it is actually well executed.
Personally, I thought it dragged in places and the story made little sense… But man, does the artwork completely slaughter. There are so many beautiful images and gorgeous scenes and little details that make this a truly important work of art. There has been little since, at the volume that this is, that can compare in quality and overall scope. During this viewing, my main focus was the artwork.