Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs</strong> (1937)

(First-through-fiftieth viewings, Toddler-watching, In French, On Blu-Ray, February 2014) How strange is it that I still hadn’t seen Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs until now. Or have I? The problem with a long-lived pop-culture reference such as this one is how I may have watched it a dozen times during childhood and forgotten all about it. I’m certainly catching up, though, because watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a toddler means watching it on a continuous loop, skipping over the credits, the legendarily scary forest sequence, the witch scenes and the violent end climax. What’s left, though, is more than enough: fantastic animal animation sequences dense in detail and charm; toe-tapping musical numbers (“Whistle While You Work” and “Heigh-Ho” are classics, of course, but I like “Bluddle-uddle-um-dum” and “The Silly Song” a lot.) While my daughter is busy singing and dancing, I’m left to reflect upon how, even by 1937, Walt Disney had hit upon the magic formula that would inform animated features all the way to 2014 and beyond: The use of animation to portray things impossible to shoot in real life (in this case, most notably, the dozen of animals in intricate gags), the necessity of strong showcase sequences, the blend of animation and song, the prototype of the Disney heroine… it’s all there, predating everything we think is modern. As a result, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs still feels incredibly modern, especially within its standout sequences: I defy any modern CGI creation to do better than the sequence in which Snow White and the animals clean up house. When my daughter goes to sleep, it’s time to watch the astonishingly expressionist forest sequence and be amazed at the fact that it’s in a kid’s movie. The one thing that doesn’t quite work, and may reveal much about the fragile production of this first Disney feature film, is the rushed ending, dispensing with about five more minutes of animation through a quick narration of on-screen text: the kind of shortcut that no filmmaker in their right minds would now attempt without self-consciousness. Still, even without a few flaws, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs remains an impressive film –no wonder it remains a crown jewel of Disney studios even nearly eighty years later.

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