Walt Disney’s first feature length cartoon is a delightful piece of entertainment. It proves that a movie can hold the attention of viewers of every age. Snow White has some pretty intense moments – like when she runs screaming through the forest after learning that her stepmom wants her dead. And the scene where the Queen disguises herself as a hag to tempt Snow White with an apple is pure nightmare fuel.
The classic fairy tale gets the animated treatment. It was Disney’s first feature length cel animation film and it set the bar high for future movies. Snow White is the story of a beautiful princess whose beauty pushes her narcissistic stepmother over the edge and she orders her death. She escapes into the woods and stumbles upon a cottage where she meets seven dwarf miners who take her in, cook for her, clean for her, etc.
She soon finds herself falling for one of the dwarfs, Grumpy. They have great chemistry together and they make a fun couple. Snow White’s wicked stepmother finally gets her comeuppance in this movie. She’s a vampish brunt with homicidal intentions. She also shines when she’s manipulating the Huntsman to torture Snow White and she delivers a satisfying death scene. The Queen’s outward appearance does match her inner villainess.
At a time when animation was still a painstaking frame by frame activity, Disney’s vision was to fill every inch of the screen with life. This was a cineb movie that would be as much about the world of Snow White and her friends as it was about her.
The result is a sugary sweet fairy tale that has become a staple of childhoods around the world. But there is also a macabre side to the movie; the Queen’s obsession with her own looks and her desire for immortality (the poison apple) gives the film a dark edge.
The characters are generally well animated although the Prince and Snow White could be a little more 3 dimensional (although she does spend half the movie with her eyes closed!). There is also a bit of a creepy sequence in the woods when Snow White runs screaming from everything that moves (including tree branches and logs) after being sent into the wilderness by her Huntsman.
A few songs from Snow White will stay with you forever, especially the rousing Heigh-Ho. This song is just as fun to whistle as it is to watch the dwarves march through the forest with their funny little hats and broomsticks. It is a classic in every sense of the word.
The film also has some very frightening scenes, particularly when Snow White is in a psychedelic dark forest and the Evil Queen is tempting her with a poisoned apple. Her terror is perfectly conveyed in a repeated crescendo of orchestral terror that reaches deafening heights before suddenly dissipating as she faints.
The movie is also filled with charming ballads like the aforementioned Heigh-Ho and the elopement number Some Day My Prince Will Come. Of course Snow White and the dwarves have their own merry little tunes to sing as well. The entire soundtrack is marvelous and one of Disney’s finest.
As is the case with a lot of Disney’s work, the characters are all full of life and personality. Snow White is the embodiment of girlish sweetness and kindness, she loves the animals that share her forest home. Her handsome prince is a roving nobleman with some pretty sweet pipes. He loves her so much that he’s willing to run off into the dark forests of Germany and Austria to find her.
The dwarfs are surly, cynical, sullen and masculine. Yet, they are also loving and protective. They are the best friends one could ever ask for. They have a huge amount of chemistry as a group. Grumpy gets the best character arc as he starts out being a surly bully and slowly warms up to Snow White.
The Evil Queen is a vampish brunet with homicidal tendencies and she’s quite the villain. The scene where she tries to tempt Snow White with the apple is one of Disney’s scariest moments.