Discussing Disney - Snow White, the Fairest One of All?
I bet when you think of the Evil Queen asking who is the fairest one of all, you hear her say “Mirror, Mirror on the wall.” In fact, she says “Magic Mirror on the wall.”
I recently just watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (the Disney movie) for the first time of my recollection. It is possible that I saw it as a child, but I don’t actually remember watching it. Of course, I was already familiar with the story (I would say it’s in the literature/media canon), and I have seen many other takes on the character and story. I have seen the television show Once Upon a Time (one of the protagonists is Snow White); I have seen television shows that feature episodes referencing or about Snow White (Happily Ever After and Suite Life On Deck come to mind); I have read the Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer which includes Snow White; I have seen the television movie Descendants which includes Snow White and the Evil Queen. I’m sure there are plenty of other references in all forms of media. In other words, I was already well-aware of the story.
In case you don’t know the story or you could use a refresher, here’s a quick synopsis (with spoilers). Snow White is a young princess who has been forced to live like a servant by the Evil Queen, her stepmother, who is vain and jealous of Snow’s beauty. The Evil Queen orders for Snow to be killed, but the Huntsman is unable to carry out the deed and allows Snow to run away. She stumbled upon a cottage in the woods inhabited by seven dwarfs. They allow her to stay with them. When the Evil Queen finds out that Snow White is still alive, she takes matters into her own hands and uses magic to disguise herself as an old woman. As the old woman, the Evil Queen offers Snow a poisoned apple which causes Snow to enter "sleeping death." The Evil Queen then falls off a cliff and is crushed by a boulder. Snow White is laid to rest in a glass coffin. Eventually, her Prince Charming comes and awakens her with true love’s kiss. They live happily ever after.
Thoughts and Impressions
First off, Snow White is very naïve (which I know is one her primary characteristics), but it frustrates me when she takes a bite of the apple. She knows that the Queen wants her dead, and the Dwarfs warn her not to trust anyone. Again, I realize that she is young and naïve, but it just seems like common sense. Second, I know that in the original fairy tale, there is a significant age difference between Snow White and Prince Charming, but I’d like to ignore that and believe that in Disney’s version they are closer in age and Snow White is slightly older. Third, I’ve seen things on the Internet pointing out that Prince Charming literally kisses a dead girl, but here’s my take. Yes, the Prince and Snow only met the one time in the movie, but we can call that love at first sight. Yes, the Prince thinks Snow is dead when he kisses her but (1) I feel like a lot of characters in fiction kiss someone they love after said person has died, so it’s not too bizarre in concept; and (2) the Evil Queen’s spell book explicitly stated that the curse could be broken with true love’s kiss, so it’s possible that the Prince somehow found out about this. Maybe I’m giving credit where credit isn’t deserved, but I like to enjoy children’s movies and give them the benefit of the doubt. Even though I don’t remember this movie from my own childhood, I still feel obligated to defend it.
Moving on, I was familiar with some (not all) of the songs. I recognized “Heigh-Ho” and “Some Day My Prince Will Come.” After watching it, I really could not tell you what other songs there were. They just didn’t stick. I was surprised by the fact that there were long stretches of the movie without much dialogue which primarily focused on actions by the characters (particularly the Dwarfs and animals). Watching the forest animals clean reminded me of the movie Enchanted (a Disney movie which, now that I think of it, heavily alludes to Snow White and makes social commentary on the idea of “happily ever after”) when Amy Adams’s character sings “Happy Working Song” while she and the animals clean the apartment. The Dwarfs attempting to clean seemed even more relatable in the current time.
Anyway, it was different from other Disney movies. I know, this was the first full-length movie by Disney and Walt Disney Studios continued to produce movies after Walt died, so it’s only natural for the style to change. I guess it just wasn’t what I expected. The plot is rather basic, without many (if any) subplots. There isn’t really any character growth (except maybe Grumpy finally coming around to liking Snow White). I was surprised to realize that it is 83 minutes because it seems like the entire plot could have happened in about 15 minutes. I know, then when would the songs come in and when would Walt have the chance to show off the amazing animation skills at the time? And I’m fine with it being a full-feature movie. It just surprised me to know that the movie had enough substance to fill that time. Also, don’t get me wrong: I do recognize the feat accomplished by Walt Disney and his crew. It was an impressive job, and it opened a whole new world of opportunities. Not only were animation and the movie industry changed forever, but also this fairy tale became widely regarded and inspired new takes on the story.
I particularly like versions of Snow White that dig deeper into the Evil Queen because she is (obviously) the villain, but there are so many questions! Where did the Magic Mirror come from? Is there more to her hatred of Snow White other than beauty? How did she become queen? I really enjoy three-dimensional villains with whom you can find similarities because it helps to humanize these characters. I also think it can be humbling to know that anyone can be a villain and anyone can be a hero. It’s all a matter of perspective and looking beyond the cliché black-and-white.
Alright, I know I touched on a lot of random topics that concern Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s not all that cohesive, but I did enjoy writing down my thoughts about it. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and recognize it as a classic (both in terms of Disney movies and in the movie industry). I’m hoping to use my Disney+ membership to go through and watch all of the animated Disney and Disney-Pixar movies (I still haven’t decided about mixed movies such as Mary Poppins and Enchanted that are partially animated and partially live action) and then review them. We’ll see if I follow through with that!