Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Director(s): William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce & Ben Sharpsteen
Starring: Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Harry Stockwell, Roy Atwell, Pinto Colvig, Otis Harlan, Scotty Mattraw, Billy Gilbert, Eddie Collins, Moroni Olsen & Stuart Buchanan
Released by: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
In Disney’s first feature-length animated production, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs tells the timeless tale of pure and innocent Snow White who fears for her life when her vile stepmother the Queen, seeks to eliminate her from becoming the fairest in the land. In order to evade capture, Snow White falls in the kind company of seven mining dwarfs who open their hearts to the young girl. Falling for a charming prince and combatting the evil Queen, love conquers all in this seminal classic.
Garnering worldwide acclaim for his Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies short subjects, forward-thinking Walt Disney was determined to push his studio’s abilities further into uncharted territories. Developed over an astounding four year period and predicted by many skeptics to be “Disney’s Folly”, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would cost the thriving studio nearly $1.5 million on a project with unproven potential. Inspired by Disney’s earliest cinematic encounters, the risky fairy tale adaptation would prompt Disney to mortgage his house and disregard the concerns of his wife Lillian and brother Roy in order to fully realize his vision. Exploring new possibilities in the realm of animation and pushing his artists to the challenge of creating convincingly human characters, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became a daily struggle with its completion being the embodiment of groundbreaking artistry.
Simplifying its narrative and dazzling viewers with its storybook opening into the Queen’s lair, achieved by the newly created multiplane camera system, sets a fantastical tone ensuring a journey of indubitable beauty. From its awe-inspiring backgrounds to the scope of the Queen’s castle and the quaint comforts of the dwarfs cottage, the animated debut feature equally serves as a moving piece of high art as it does a compelling tale. As Disney’s inaugural princess, Snow White is the definition of purity with her jovial spirit and harmonious singing of “I’m Wishing” melting the hearts of viewers. Memorably joined by the colorful personalities of the short statured miners, the seven dwarfs, whether digging for diamonds and whistling while they work or questioning the benefits of washing up before mealtime, comprise the film’s many adorable sight gags. In addition to Snow White’s scary dash through the forest, the Queen and her wicked ways deliver other such effectively dark sequences including, the infamous apple eating moment cementing the evildoers cold heart while, Snow White’s courageous love interest, the Prince, feels noticeably one-dimensional in a production bursting with unforgettable characters. Spellbinding in all its gorgeous technicolor and sending audiences through a gamut of emotions, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs remains Disney’s unprecedented achievement that captured the hearts of millions nearly eight decades ago with its magic still firmly intact. Nearly perfect (Disney’s sophomore effort, Pinocchio, being his true masterpiece), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an artistic marvel that will forever stand the test of time.
Repurposing its gorgeous transfer from the previously available Diamond Edition, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1080p, sporting a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Free of any age-related scuffs or other such damage, Disney’s first fairy tale exudes perfection with bright colors leaping off the screen and handsome detail allowing viewers to further appreciate the glorious backgrounds. In addition, black levels found in the Queen’s cape, the mischievous vultures and Snow White’s dash through the dreary forest are exceptionally inky. Although no alterations are detected from its previous release, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can appropriately be filed under the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” category. Furthermore, DisneyView is once again included to optionally view the film with Toby Bluth’s (The Tigger Movie) artwork replacing the vertical black bars. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, dialogue is prominently positioned with no distortion on hand. Music is richly soothing while, the film’s climatic finale succeeds in drumming up appropriate excitement.
Newly included special features contain, In Walt’s Words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (4:22), culled from archive recording interviews from 1956, Iconography (7:16) finds modern artists discussing the impact of the film’s long-lasting imagery and powerful symbolism. In addition, @DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney’s First Princess (5:16) hosts Animator Mark Henn (Pocahontas), Art Directors Michael Giaimo (Frozen), Bill Schwab (Wreck-It Ralph) and Lorelay Bové (Big Hero 6) on the evolution of the film’s titular character and its striking design choices that continue to influence today, The Fairest Facts of Them All: All 7 Things You May Not Know About Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (4:37) hosted by Sofia Carson of Disney’s Descendants, Snow White in Seventy Seconds (1:12), Alternate Sequence: The Prince Meets Snow White (3:39) and Disney’s First Feature: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (33:15) serving as an extended version of a previously available featurette conclude the release’s latest offerings. Meanwhile, vintage supplements include, an Audio Commentary with Roy E. Disney and Historian John Canemaker with recordings by Walt Disney, Bringing Snow White to Life (11:35), Hyperion Studios Tour (30:36), Decoding the Exposure Sheet (6:49), Story Meetings: The Dwarfs (5:51), Story Meetings: The Huntsman (3:55), Deleted Scene: Soup Eating Sequence (6:28) and Animation Voice Talent (6:20). Finally, Sneak Peeks at Disney Movie Rewards (0:20), The Disney Store (0:32), Disney Parks (0:32), Zootopia (1:38) and The Good Dinosaur (1:38) are included with a DVD edition of the release and, for the first time ever, a Digital HD Code.
Appropriately kickstarting Disney’s new Signature Collection, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the defining tale that gave immediate acceptance to the animated feature. Magical, frightening and heartwarming, the endearing classic not only stands as one of the mediums finest achievements but, also one of cinema’s most prized efforts. Boasting its same spectacular presentation from its 2009 Diamond Edition release, newly included supplements join a plethora of vintage content for a satisfyingly packed high-def sophomore outing. Mirror, mirror on the wall, Disney appreciators and lovers of all cinema should not fathom being without Disney’s essential first feature.
Available February 2nd from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs can be purchased via Amazon.com and other fine retailers.