What a start to this journey through Disney Animation! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an amazing first offering from Disney! Beautiful backdrops, emotions ranging from love to horror, laughter to tears, excellent music, and much more. It is humbling too, to realize, as Dave Smith writes in Disney A to Z (as quoted in Wikipedia):
It was the first full-length cel-animated feature in motion picture history, as well as the first animated feature film produced in America, the first produced in full color, the first to be produced by Walt Disney, and the first in the Walt Disney Animated Classics canon.
This is a film of firsts, and not one to be forgotten. What is great, is that it's not remembered for simply being first, but for actually being a great film. I can't even tell you how many times I watched this film as a kid, and yet, watching it the other night was almost like watching a brand new film. It was a weird experience, which I'm sure will happen repeatedly along the way.
[caption id="attachment_1039" align="aligncenter" width="570"] Innocence in the Real World[/caption]
What stuck out most to me, was how little happened in this film. I don't think when I watched it as a kid I realized how few plot points there were. I mean you start at the castle, have a scene of her going to the cottage, you see the dwarfs, you see them all interact, the queen comes, the queen dies, and Snow White is revived. All of this stretched over 85 minutes or so. It certainly felt slow, but it is nothing I won't forgive for being the first animated feature, and I'm sure there was much debate over how much to put in the film and what the audience would endure.
As far as the film itself, it was a very intriguing tale of innocence facing the real world. You have the princess Snow White (hint: I think the name clues us in to the innocence), who must face the frightening realities of life. All she knows is how to clean, since that is all that her stepmother would allow her to do, and when she gets to the cottage, she immediately starts to clean. She naïvely assumes that she will be able to take care of "children," and lives as if the queen will never find her. In many ways, her innocence is a blessing, as we are able to see in her interactions with the dwarves and the jollity she is able to bring to their lives.
[caption id="attachment_1042" align="aligncenter" width="390"] What happened to her search for beauty?[/caption]
However, she certainly does not conquer the world with her innocence. The film shows her naïvety in her inability to recognize the queen with the apple. Her guard is finally dropped when she is tempted with the wish of being able to wish for her true love, the handsome prince. If the prince was not in love with her, she would be asleep forever because of her foolishness. She is thrust into the world without every really growing up.
Even the queen doesn't seem to have a lot of depth. Her sole motivation is to be the fairest in the land. She is so monomaniacal towards this end that she is even willing to kill her stepdaughter to make it so. She is certainly a frightening character for a "children's" film, summoning spirits in her mirror and casting black magic.
[caption id="attachment_1040" align="aligncenter" width="570"] Love's First Kiss[/caption]
All in all, however, this is certainly a strong film, and I can understand why I was drawn to watch it again and again. It has the ability to make you laugh and love the characters, and the ability to display strong and terrifying images that will last in your memory. I was struck by how often it was the frightening parts I remembered best. It's a film about innocence growing up, and I look forward to seeing how these films mature as we progress as well.