Saturday, January 26, 2013

January Blind Spot: Snow White and Seven Dwarfs(1937)

One of the reasons why I wanted to take part in Blind Spot series this year, off course besides filling up those damn blanks in my film viewings, was I wanted to get a little out of my comfort zone and write about different types of movies. This was a good way of forcing this onto myself. But these aren't just any movies that I selected on whim. All of them are to be considered essential viewing for any serious movie-buff. Since special occasions demand special treatment, I also decided to go with something different than usual plain review. So, now I had 12 movies chosen, special format in the form of Q&A drawn out. All I needed to do was actually watch a movie and write. Believe me, nothing is that simple. Being the very first movie in this series, I wanted to choose it carefully and make it something that almost nobody will have any question calling it a classic, an essential. I went up and down my list, trying to finalize the one. At one point, I thought none of them seems like a right fit while at another, they all looked like indisputable classics. However after some deliberation, I was convinced there wouldn't be a better place to start then Snow White and Seven Dwarfs(1937).
First and foremost, what makes this a Blind Spot movie? In other words, why did I think of this film as essential?
If this is not to be considered an essential, I don't know what is. This was the FIRST and probably the most memorable full-length animated feature made by Disney Studios. Period. What more reason does anyone who has ever seen an animated movie need? This movie gave a different genre all together to the film industry. Being such a legendary movie that has carved out quite a niche for itself, I was more than eager to scratch this off my list and hopefully like it as well. And it was Adolf Hitler's favourite movie. So, there is that too.
So, what is the story about?
Now that is a redundant question, isn't it? Who doesn't know Snow White's story? Funny thing is, one of the thing that made this interesting for me is over the last year or so, we have seen so many different versions of this same story. Some on big screen, some on TV, some spin-offs and what not. I wanted to see what is the actual normal version of it, the Fairy tale version because after having seen all the different versions, I was starting to doubt what the original story was myself. At least I got that here. Simple and straight forward story of charming little princess saved by the seven little dwarves from the evil deeds of her step-mother. Now their execution of story, with the occasional singing and dancing etc., felt very play-like. I have never actually seen it myself but this is exactly how I imagine a Broadway play will be like.

What did I think of it? What did I like the most about it and what didn't I like?
I was thoroughly impressed by the way it looked because it was absolutely gorgeous. I guess, I wasn't expecting first ever movie made to be that beautiful. I had so many screen caps taken, I had very hard time deciding which ones to choose for this post and which ones to discard. It is a fairy tale story and with all the goofiness of the dwarves and woodland creatures involved, it is obvious that it was very much made for kids. It does get darker in parts but then again, keeping their target audience in mind, we never see any violence on the screen. It is mostly implied that something bad just happened. I believe targeting for the kid's market would've allowed them to keep the story straight forward and concentrate more on making animations much more detail-oriented and hence real as well which should have been point of emphasis more than anything else. But I guess you can look at it from either way. It also makes it, well, very straight forward and hence kinda bland. 

But then again, I am discounting the fact that this is Snow White. So, it isn't like anyone who watches it wouldn't know what is going to happen next. So, I guess, my point is Walt Disney and Co. must have deliberately chosen the well-known story so that they can concentrate on making animations rather than writing a story to animate. It might have helped him from marketing point of view but I think the idea of letting the animations take the front seat to everything else was an admirable thing to do.

After having seen it, do I agree with it's 'essential' status? and why?
Not only do I just agree with the 'Essential' label, I really believe that it will remain so for many many more years to come as a reminder that this is how it all started. Given the fact that this was first attempt at making an animated feature film, there was no hint of that anywhere in the movie. In fact their attention to the detail was something that really impressed me e.g. first time when Snow White peeks through the window into the dwarves' house, you can see the tiny dot her nose would make on that glass. Apparently, there was a little concern over if animators can make these characters look human since no one had much of a practice with that before and was one of the reasons why Prince's characters is used bare minimum in the movie. To make that point, Disney and his animators made sure that all the human characters in the story i.e Snow White, The Queen and even Prince and Huntsman for whatever little time they are on screen, will have the dramatic bearing  as that of an actor in live action movie. To add to this dramatic response, Huntsman was particularly made ferocious, dwarves were made to look dismal carrying Snow white - something that the cartoons that time were not known to be capable of.

If we are talking about the quality animation, even 75 years after its release and with all the advances in the technology now a days, I think Snow White still holds up really great. Me falling in love with the look of this movie also reiterated the fact that I love 2D animations way more than 3D. 3D animations may look more clear, crisp, there is something in those hand drawn animations that make them look much more personal, much more relatable. One of the main reasons, why I always prefer Studio Ghibli over Pixar.

Does it open few new doors for me? Does this inspire to watch any other movies?
I am sure there are many people who will not believe that I had never seen such a classic. I am sure they will wonder, what did I do as a kid? Don't worry, I off course knew the story. I just never got around to this movie. But what I am about to say might astonish everyone even more. Not only that I JUST saw Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, I think this was my first Disney classic. I am pretty sure I have not seen any of them, I am not even sure what movies exactly constitute as Disney classics. Now with the success of this, I think that door is open for me. I am even looking for suggestions, if you have any.


  1. Glad you liked the look of the film. I agree it's essential and should remain so. Actually, I think this and Toy Story are the landmarks for animation, as far as history is concerned.

    Disney classics you could start with: Pinocchio, Dumbo, Cinderella, Fantasia, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmations, and Lady and the Tramp.

    1. Certainly. I have to agree about Toy Story too. Thanks for the recommendation. I will try to get hold of some of them.

  2. It's great that you enjoyed Snow White so much. The story behind the making of the movie is almost as interesting as the film itself. It nearly bankrupted the studio and took years to complete, and most thought Walt Disney was out of his mind. The attention to detail and willingness to take a chance make this one of the great animated films of all time. It's been too long since I've seen it.

    1. I am glad to have it scratched of my "To Watch" list.
      It is certainly a great story. I did my research before this post but I am still learning new things every day about this.

  3. Wow - Talk about starting the series with a bang!

    This was one of the very very first films I ever saw in a theatre. My grandfather took me when I was still very small, and I was instantly smitten with this beautiful, colourful, sometimes terrifying tale. I'm also proud to say that none of it frightened me - which is odd considering how little backbone I'd have as a tween.

    The thing I love about it - and many of the classic Disneys - is how unafraid they are of being scary. Walt believed that kids were capable of handling so much that we now shelter them from, and amusingly he ended up scaring an awful lot of kids in the process!

    As for going through more of WD's films - here's where I'd go, in chronological order:

    THE JUNGLE BOOK (Walt's last one)

    1. Welcome to out Humble Abode, Mr. McNeil !! :)

      Well, I was aiming to make a splash. I could not think of anything better. Obviously, I don't have much exposure but you are right about this movie. It does go dark and it could be scary for its 'Target Audience' but I guess, it wouldn't have been classic even after so many years if they played it too safe.

      Thanks for the recommendations as well. The Lion King is another animation in the series for me. So, I will get there. I will try to get hold of some others as well.


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