top of page

The Media Man Reviews: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves


Welcome media fans everywhere, and you're here for a VERY special occasion...


IT'S DISNEY'S 100TH ANNIVERSARY!!!!!!!!!



Yep, that day is finally here everybody. Happy 100th Anniversary Disney, and we're here to celebrate by reviewing the movie that started it all. How appropriate I review Disney's first animated movie for their 100th birthday? That movie of course...is Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.


Released in 1937, Snow White was the move that changed EVERYTHING. Not only was it a critical and financial hit and became Walt Disney's most beloved project he ever created, but this was the movie that made animation mainstream and proved that animation was more than just simple cartoons. Animation was an artform that could be used to create movies the same way that live actors and set-pieces could and this movie showed that audiences would indeed watch more than seven minutes of a cartoon after all. The animation industry changed forever after this film's release and remains a massively popular and profitable industry with many more animated movies still being made to this day. It paved the way for all the other animation studios that came afterwards including DreamWorks, Pixar, Illumination, Blue Sky, Studio Ghibli and much more. If this film hadn't been a hit, I guarantee that those studios would never have existed. The animation industry owes it to this film for where it is today.


And to think at the time, everybody but Walt Disney himself was convinced it would fail with the press even labelling it as "Disney's folly". Even Walt's own wife tried to talk him out of it! And yet he proved everybody wrong and gave us this legendary movie that is still being talked about in the history books for what an impact it had on cinema and the entertainment industry as a whole!


So for Disney's 100th birthday, why not review the one that started it all for the company? It seems perfect if you ask me. So is Snow White deserving of its legendary status? Or is its historical impact the ONLY thing worth noting about it? Let's review and find out...


Section 1: The Story


I don't even need to bother explaining the story as everyone knows it at this point. A princess named Snow White meets seven little men and tries to avoid being killed by her wicked stepmother. It's as simple as it gets and is as true to the fairy tale as you can imagine. And yet it also makes some improvements to the original story such as making it so Snow White only falls for the poison apple trick with the laces and poison comb tricks being dropped entirely and it was THIS adaptation that introduced the concept of the dwarves having individual names and personalities so all future adaptations have this to thank for paving the way for the dwarves being more invidivual.


Snow White is one of those movies where it's the art of simplicity. The story is very simple with not much in terms of depth or character growth with Grumpy being the only one who really has an arc and if you really look at this story, it's mostly just the characters doing stuff like working in the mine, cleaning the cottage, having fun together and washing before dinner. And yet all of that just adds to the movie's overall charm. It's just a simple fun story with nothing overly complicated about it. But that's not to say the movie is just simple fun with nothing else to it, oh no. As any Disney fan will tell you, this movie can be an emotional roller coaster at times. This movie can make you laugh, make you cry, feel scared or feel romantic and it hits those emotions so effectively whether it's Snow White's run through the forest emphasizing how scary this is for her or the dwarfs dancing with Snow White showing what a good time everyone is having or especially when the dwarfs think Snow White is dead and are sobbing as hard as the audience is as they're watching. This is what I mean about it being the art of simplicity: this pretty simple story that doesn't have a whole lot going on still manages to hit you with a variety of emotions and it plays them all so effectively.


It's also worth noting that this movie started a lot of the common tropes found in Disney movies even to this day. A romance story? Check. Absent parents? Check. Comedic side-characters? Check. Scary scenes? Check. A sad scene? Check. The villain falling to their death? Check. The Fake-Out Death? Check. A happy ending for the protagonists? Checkmate! Most of the Disney formula started off here and it's easy to see why they became so common in Disney films going forward since they not only started off well here, but Snow White used them all so effectively. While some of these tropes may cause people to sigh and roll their eyes because of how overused they are, back then it was all new so these tropes are easier to accept as this was Disney's first full-length feature.


As for the story, despite its simplicity, I still find it a very charming story regardless. It's just such a fun time watching these characters just doing things together for it gives us some insight into their lives and they make it fun with how the animators make it happen. We see that Snow White is a hard-worker and is kind (albeit to a fault), we see the dwarves are hard-workers in the mines who like to add a bit of fun to what they do and we get to see them have a whole scene of just having a jolly song and dance together. Like I say, it's not exactly the most epic story ever with a lot of deep complex lore behind it and tonnes of depth to the characters, yet it's still so enjoyable. Sometimes all you need is your cast in a standard setting doing things together to give the audience a fun time.


As is typical for an early Disney film, this film does still have its dark moments from time-to-time to show that even in a fairy tale world, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. The Wicked Queen is a ruthless and sinister villain who is NOT played for laughs whatsoever with her jealousy and hate towards Snow White driving her to murderous tendencies, the Magic Mirror is given a creepy edge to it, Snow White's run through the forest is played for scares and even the queen's death is pretty dark when you consider that she not only plummeted off a cliff, but a boulder likely fell on top of her and crushed her to death while the vultures come down to likely feed on her remains! These scenes never feel they're going too far and they do add a little bit of grit to the story to give it an extra edge for the audience so the story isn't too overly saccharine and there can be an actual danger level to make the story more exciting. Even when those moments come in, it never feels like tonal whiplash for they balance out the more light-hearted moments well so the story can be enjoyable for everyone.


So yeah, Disney did a great job on the story of their first ever movie, right? Absolutely. But no story is perfect and with this being their first, it's not going to be perfect right off the bat. First of all, the Wicked Queen's an idiot. He tells the huntsman to bring back Snow White's heart after killing her. Big shocker, the huntsman was able to easily fake that and the Magic Mirror had to tell her she's been played. Why didn't she say "bring back her head" instead? THAT would be more conclusive evidence and it would be much harder to fake! The huntsman likely would've done it if he wasn't able to fake something like that so she only made things harder for herself with her idiocy!


And as everybody on planet Earth has pointed out, yes, the romance is poorly developed. That wasn't Disney's fault though. At the time the movie was being made, the animators weren't quite skilled enough at drawing realistic human males so the Prince was too tough to animate for long periods at a time. Thus, his screen time had to be cut down despite there being plans to give him more to do. It couldn't be helped so it's unfair to use this as a criticism against the movie, hence why I'm not going to do so. Still, this problem with production means the romance aspect couldn't be utilized to its fullest and thus the relationship between Snow White and the Prince sadly had to be underdeveloped.


And this may depend on the viewer, but I imagine some may find the movie a bit too saccharine and overly cutesy for their tastes. I'm OK with it since I enjoy those kinds of things, but I understand wholeheartedly why some viewers may not get into it as much.


As is, this was a fine first attempt from Disney and it's easy to see why it paid off so well. Walt and his team worked hard to make this story work and even to this day, it's still massively charming and enjoyable from beginning to end, even if it may not hold up to Disney's later works. A simple story with a bit of extra effort added can still go a long way as we see here...


Section 2: The Characters


These are some of Disney's most iconic characters, and for good reason too.


Let's start with the titular princess herself, Snow White (voiced by Adriana Caselotti). Snow White is a character whom I feel is unfairly looked down upon by viewers. Yes she might be too much of a softy and is kind to a fault so she can come off as naïve but consider the fact she's still pretty young and has likely lived a sheltered upbringing because of her stepmother making her a servant in the castle so chances are, she's not very well educated. No wonder she's as naïve as she is! Yet I feel Snow White is an example we can all follow. She's treated harshly by her stepmother and has gone through a scary moment in her life where she was about to be killed by the huntsman and then went through a scary forest that left her feeling afraid and alone...yet despite all that, she retains her sunny demeanour and remains ever sweet and kind to those around her. Personally, anyone who can go through a tough life and still remain nice is someone who shows TRUE strength and Snow White is a much stronger character than she's given credit for. Remember, she got a whole load of animals and seven little men to do her bidding so she's clearly not that weak! XD We can all look up to her as an example of how we shouldn't let our experiences drag us down and we should remain kind to others in spite of the harsh world we live in. She should be considered inspiring, not degrading in my eyes.


Snow White maybe the protagonist but as everyone, even Walt himself, knows, the dwarves are the true stars of the show. We have Doc (voiced by Roy Atwell, Grumpy (voiced by Pinto Colvig), Sleepy (also voiced by Pinto Colvig), Happy (voiced by Otis Harlan), Sneezy (voiced Billy Gilbert), Bashful (voiced by Scotty Matthraw) and Dopey (who is mute but his vocal effects are provided by Eddie Collins). The dwarves were given an upgrade from the original fairy tale as they actually HAVE names and personalities instead of all being the same character and naturally that made them more memorable for the viewers. While the dwarves only really have their single character trait and that's about it, Grumpy is the one everyone knows and loves because he's the only one who really undergoes any development in the movie. He's the most resentful towards Snow White being there, yet even he begins to grow fond of her as time goes by. And come the climax, HE is the one leading the charge against the queen rather than Doc. Yes, the dwarf who resented Snow White the most is the first one to take action in saving her. That guy came a long way in a short span of time and bless him for it. ^^ Still, the dwarves are all a fun bunch of characters and they're a hoot every time they're onscreen, being responsible for most of the hilarious comedy in the movie. True show stealers indeed.


And next we have the villain of the movie, the Wicked Queen (voiced by Lucille La Verne). She is the first in Disney's iconic library of villains and sadly, she's a bad first impression. And I don't mean that in the evil sense. Not only is her motivation just extremely petty, but as mentioned above she's kind of a moron. Again, telling the huntsman to bring back Snow White's head would've been more conclusive evidence and much harder to fake for the huntsman and if she told him to do that, then he likely would've done it and she could've avoided her own fate later on. As is, she still has that dignified yet creepy air to her that makes her at least come off as menacing and like you don't want to cross paths with her and with her magical powers, she works well as a cunning temptress that actually ends up getting Snow White to eat the poisoned apple. Had it not been for the dwarves' unwillingness to bury Snow White, she would've won even if she ended up dead at the end! So yeah, not the best Disney villain ever but at least she worked well in some areas.


Her Magic Mirror (voiced by Moroni Olsen) is a fascinating mysterious character. With its creepy drama mask-like face and propensity for speaking in rhyme, it has this creepy yet mystical air to its scenes and its presence digs up some interesting questions like what exactly IS it and how did the Queen get it? Those unanswered questions just make it more mysterious, and in turn more interesting as a result. It does make you wonder about its origins, doesn't it...?


There's also the huntsman (voiced by Stuart Buchanan). I find him the most sympathetic character besides Snow White. The poor guy clearly has a high opinion of Snow White for he's outright HORRIFIED at the prospect of murdering her and even with his life at stake should he fail, he still can't do it! One can only hope he managed to keep his life and that he's living happily somewhere with the knowledge he didn't kill Snow White in the end and the Wicked Queen won't be after him anytime soon. His time was brief, but he's very memorable nonetheless.


And finally, there's the Prince (voiced by Harry Stockwell). Sadly, as mentioned before, his screen time had to be cut down because he was too hard to animate and thus he couldn't have had the time he needed to be more fleshed out and develop the romance with him and Snow White further. He still deserves credit for saving her life, even if it is rather awkward for him to come up and essentially kiss what he and the dwarves thought was a corpse...

The characters are all rather simple and easy to describe, but that doesn't mean they're not very memorable or charming regardless. If anything, it only made them easier to remember and it's easy to see how they became animation icons for not just Disney, but for animation as a whole...


Section 3: The Animation


And now for the interesting part, the animation that proved it could be used to make more than simple, goofy cartoons. At the time, that's all animation was really used for and while this wasn't the first ever animated film to be made (that honour belongs to a couple of lost films and The Adventures of Prince Achmed), this was the first ever cel-animated movie as those previous ones mentioned were stop-motion. And needless to say, it's no wonder 2-D animated movies became the norm for so many decades after this movie until 3-D animation replaced it in the 2000's. This animation is over 86 years old and it still looks amazing even now!


There are some parts that haven't aged all that well like how the rotoscoping on Snow White can make her look a little uncanny at times and she rather sharply contrasts against the more cartoonish looking dwarves and sometimes you'll have animals in the background that are just frozen stiff and don't move an inch like the Prince's horse when he arrives to see Snow White in the coffin but aside from those issues, the animation still holds up extremely well in my eyes.


First of all, the character designs are well-done, occasional uncanny looks from Snow White aside, and are instantly recognizable for their iconic outfits and appearances. You have Snow White's iconic blue and yellow dress, the dwarves with their colour-coded outfits and individual designs to make each of them easily identifiable and even the Wicked Queen's huge purple robes and large black cape capture the eye whenever she's onscreen. Her old hag disguise is no slouch in the design department either, looking unsettling at times which only further emphasizes what an ugly transformation the Queen has undergone to make the disguise work. Everyone knows these characters and everyone recognizes them for how distinctive and easily identifiable they are, which shows the animators did well in making them easy to remember.


The character animation is great too. You have Snow White, the Prince, the Wicked Queen and the Huntsman whom are animated more realistically like actual people while the dwarves have the more cartoony expressions and movements to emphasize their comedic nature. They even have the three-fingered hands of classic cartoons while the humans have all four fingers. And of course, the animation on the cast is very expressive too with some devious scowls from the Wicked Queen, the wicked grins her disguised form often sports, the dwarves displaying their individual personalities, the grim looking Magic Mirror face and much more. You can tell so easily how the characters are feeling at any given time throughout the story with how expressive the animation is. Even the animals are very expressive despite being animated more realistically. And yet like the dwarves, the animals too have their more cartoony movements such as when they're helping to clean the cottage or dancing with the music during the Silly Song.


All this leads to what I love about the animation here: how much it takes advantage of the fact it's animated. Many of these scenes are the animators just showing off what they can do given animation has no limits to what you can do with some cool looking designs going off in the scenery (I especially love the Queen's peacock designed throne), the animals showing how they can use their tails and such to clean around the house, the design of the dwarves' instruments they play and the Wicked Queen's transformation looking suitably trippy and unpleasant. Animation isn't some genre to pander to kids after all, it's a medium to make movies and a form of art, and this movie emphasizes that fact beautifully. They really went all out to show what can be done with animation and it looks fantastic.


The animation also reflects the mood of the scene very well too, thus showing how animation can be used to trigger emotions in people. You have a lot of bright and sunny colours during the more quiet moments, the run through the forest is practically pitch black in the background with only Snow White and the trees visible and the trees are shown in unsettling lights and angles to make them look creepier, the climax is dark and grey with rain falling to make the scene look more intense and the scene with the dwarves crying for Snow White has sombre lighting with the dwarves all breaking down over their beloved princess. Even the candles in that scene are drawn with melting wax, almost making it look as if they're crying as well. The emotional moments are as effective as they are because of the animation that went into them, and it's why they stand out so much to viewers even after all this time.


The animation may be dated in some areas, but for a first outing for a full-length animated feature, it was a GREAT first impression for what was to come and it's no wonder that "Disney's folly" as it was called at the time ended up paying off and making the movie such a hit. With animation as beautiful as this, this was only a taster of what was to come in the following years for animated films...


Section 4: The Songs


This movie also started another common trope in Disney films going forward: the musical aspect.


I wouldn't say these songs are the best Disney songs ever, but they're still a fun time regardless and it started off what would be a grand tradition for many Disney musicals in the future.


We have "I'm Wishing" where Snow White sings about the Wishing Well and how she wishes for her true love to find her. Then the Prince shows up and follows up on that with "One Song". Both are pretty short and don't have a lot of lyrics to them but they set up the romance between them nicely.


Next we have "With A Smile And A Song" which is used to lift her spirits up after her scary run through the forest. She performs it with the animals and it certainly helps in cheering her up after that intense moment. It's not the most memorable song in the movie for me but it's a welcome breather after the previous scene.


And then we have my personal favourite, "Whistle While You Work". It's a catchy tune and it sure makes house-cleaning look fun. XD Not only do I enjoy listening to it, but I feel it's where some of the most fun animation takes place as we see the animals clean the cottage with Snow White.


Next we have the most famous and memorable song in the movie and probably a favourite for most fans out there: "Heigh-Ho". It's another song with not a lot of lyrics and a repetitive chorus, and yet it's so infectious and you can't help but sing to it. I guarantee everyone of us has suddenly started going "Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to work we go" for no real reason at least once in our lives. XD


Next we have the washing song in where it's not much of a song but is more like musical accompaniment to the dwarves washing their faces and hands. It didn't need to be a musical number but it did make this scene more fun by being one so I don't mind it as it is.


And then there's "The Silly Song" in where it's a yodelling tune that's a fun and catchy song just right for a scene with Snow White and her new friends just having fun together. Once again, we get a lot of the film's comedy and funny animations going off here to make this musical number even more enjoyable and it's quite fun to watch.


After that, Snow White gives us "Someday My Prince Will Come", another short but memorable tune that is all about wishing and hoping for your true love to come some day. It's another tune that practically everybody knows and for good reason as it fits the romantic side of Snow White and the title itself even sounds very fairy-tale, which fits with this story being based on a fairy tale.


The main problem the songs have is that they're often pretty short and have repetitive lyrics but that doesn't stop them being memorable and a fun listen to whenever the movie is playing. Everyone knows these tunes and for good reason as they're hard to forget after you've heard them...


Overall


Snow White definitely isn't among the best Disney films ever, but it's easy to see why it's such a legendary movie all the same. The story is simple yet effective, the comedy is hilarious, the emotional aspect is very strong, the characters are full of charm, the animation is amazing and the songs unforgettable. This is a movie that isn't just a movie, but a legendary piece of animation history and ANY animation fan owes it to themselves to watch it at least once in their lives. If you want to see where Disney started out, check this movie out and you'll be in for a fun little time capsule of this legendary studio's humble beginnings...


And that's it for this review. Hope you enjoyed it and I'd love to hear your thoughts down below. Do you like Snow White? Do you not like it? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments. Join me again later in the week as I conclude my 100 facts about Disney countdown. See you then media fans!


And once again Disney: Happy Anniversary. May you continue to make dreams come true for another 100 years...


HAPPY 100TH ANNIVERSARY DISNEY

34 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentario


What else can be said. It's a classic. Sure, there are some iffy moments but that is just becaue Snow white is the first. The first disney movie. But despite everything it is still impressive what they did, it still looks great despite the limitations at the time.


And I can say you really summed up Snow White as a character, in that she is stronger then people give credit for.


The Dwarves were great and hilarious characters. Also Grumpy was first tsundere in western animations XD And Dopey was my fav as a kid.


I love all the songs. I have also whistled the tune 'whistled while you work', while I do housework at various points in my life.…

Me gusta
bottom of page