Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Article #1275 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-10-2004
Posting Date: 2-7-2005
Featuring the voices of Roy Atwell, Stuart Buchanan, Adriana Caselotti

Snow White flees from the castle of the evil queen who wishes to have her murdered, and takes refuge in a cottage inhabited by seven dwarfs.

It’s now been almost seventy years since this movie first hit the screens, and since then we’ve seen so many full-length animated features that it may be a little difficult to appreciate just how daring and audacious this movie was. I recently read a history of animation called “Hollywood Cartoons”, and one thing that impressed me was the sheer amount of work that went into the making of this movie. The challenges were daunting; two of the challenges were that they had to find a way to extend the style and pacing of animation to make it succeed for the length of a movie and they had to perfect the animation of realistic human characters. One can only wonder how the history of animation would have changed had they failed; instead, it succeeds beautifully. Watching it now, I can still marvel. I love the many effects using water in the movie (the various scenes in which we see characters reflected in the water, the scene where we see Snow White from the vantage point of the bottom of a well, the washing scene and the rain during the chase of the witch), and I can only imagine the amount of work this must have taken.

I could go on and on about the magic of this movie, but instead I’ll just mention that I saw this movie as a child, and three scenes stuck in my memory. I remember the terrifying moment when the huntsman is about to kill Snow White, but can’t bring himself to do it, and instead urges her to make her escape in the forest. I also remember the frantic chase of the witch by the dwarfs in the rain. However, the one single moment that etched itself most deeply in my memory was a simple one; it was that vision of the skeleton in the dungeon reaching out for a pitcher of water that remains just out of reach. It was wonderful to see that these scenes still had the same impact after all these years.

P.S. This musing is dedicated to Frank Thomas. In a sad coincidence, the day of my viewing of this movie was the day that his death was announced. He was one of the inner circle of Disney animators known as the “nine old men”, and he was responsible for the animation of the dwarfs. His career spanned many years, and it was wonderful to discover that he even did some voice work in another of my very favorite animated features, THE IRON GIANT. Goodbye, Frank; this one is for you.


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