Movie Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Title: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Release Date: December 21, 1937
Director: David Hand (supervising), William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, and Ben Sharpsteen
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions

The first full-length animated feature in color is noted for its technical innovation and it still impresses 83 years later.  Sequences such as Snow White running through a “haunted” forest and the Evil Queen transforming herself into an old woman are still awe-inspiring in their detail and fluidity.  Then there are  extended scenes like the dwarfs dancing and the dwarfs snoring that add nothing to the plot but are just plain fun in their exploration of animation.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever watched the movie before, but after seeing it I don’t think I have watched more than a few segments. I am familiar with the story and the songs because when I was a kid I attended a stage performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Radio City Music Hall.  This was well before Disney began producing Broadway musicals on the regular.

There’s a lot more dwarfs and a lot less Snow White than I expected, which is for the best because the dwarfs provide a lot of the entertainment and joy of animation.  And I never would’ve guessed that Grumpy gets the biggest character arc. Honestly, I found myself liking Grumpy a lot. There are also all those woodland creatures who mysteriously decide to help out Snow White.  They’re all great character studies of different kinds of animals, and what they look like performing things that are not animal-like.

One weird thing about the movie is that the faces of Snow White, the Prince, and the Evil Queen appear to be more “realistic” human faces like you find in the serious soap opera newspaper comic strips.  This makes them look odd alongside the more cartoonish faces of all the other characters. I don’t think any Disney movie animated human faces in that style again, although I suppose I’ll find out for sure as I work my way through the Disney movies.

Rating: ****1/2

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