Thursday, December 17, 2009

Walt Disney Animation Studios Part 1: Snow White

It's no lie, I believe that Walt Disney World is one of the greatest places. In my recent visit (August 2009), my friend over at Eric-Jost.Blogspot, decided he wanted to go back and enjoy the Disney "Classics" (as the mid-90's marketing team called their VHS releases). Well, he's inspired me to do the same.

So here's Part 1 of this multi-part retrospective of Walt Disney Animation Studios' endeavors (mostly in production order, save for a few not available on DVD).

Some background info (compiled from Wikipedia and imdb and my own knowledge of the movie).

Official Title: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Release: December 21, 1937
Running Time: 83 minutes
Estimated Cost: $1,488,422.74 (1937) ($22,360,450.79 adjusted for inflation 2009)
Estimated Revenue: First Theatrical Release $66,596,803 (1937) ($988,490,962.11 adjusted for inflation 2008)
Overall Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Plot Summary:
Snow White lives a happy life at her palace with the step mother (The Evil Queen). One day her life is turned upside down when she sees a prince (The Prince) and falls madly in love with him. But the best laid plans; when the Evil Queen asks her magic mirror about the fairest woman in the world, the mirror tells her Snow White is the most beautiful person in the world. So Snow White is forced to run for her life; she stumbles upon the tiny home of 7 dwarfs. They take her in and care for her; that is until the Evil Queen discovers Snow White is not dead and transforms herself into a old beggar woman and convinces Snow to eat from a poisoned apple. The dwarfs mistake her magiked sleep for death and entomb her, when who should appear but The Prince, whose kiss of true love revives Snow White. The Evil Queen is presumed dead when a rock - meant to kill the dwarfs - rolls onto her.

Songs: Someday my Prince will come; High-Ho; Whistle While You Work; along with several incidental songs.

"Someday my prince will come" will become a staple theme of 'princess' movies of Walt's time.

The songs in the movie was simplistic and really did not move the plot along like later movies produced by Disney animation. But considering that this a groundbreaking movie in a new medium, I'll give it some slack. The background music did however add to the feel of the movie to help the audience clearly follow the plot.

Plot Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Overly simplistic by today's standards; this plot was character driven, spending many of the 87 minutes with just how Snow reacts to new things. Although, some of her reactions are amazing (just remember the scary scene in the forest!)

Animation Rating: 2 out of 5

Again, it was new, but it was still overly simplistic. The faces of Snow and Prince were under drawn and almost unable to emote (due to the artist actually just tracing film strips of actors portraying the characters. Some artists, the one who worked on the Evil Queen, refused to do this, and when you re-watch this movie, notice how much more natural she can emote.) The dwarfs are also more lively and animated

Again though, props to the art department though, for the forest scene and the beautiful backdrops.

The Test of Time:

With MANY theatrical releases, I would say that this film has stood the test of time. Or was it just Disney pushing it down our throats and their cleaver "Disney Vault" to hide home releases for years at a time. Or was it the insane "Princess" that began sometime in the onset of the aughts (2000's).

Snow White's moral might not stand the test of time though. A woman is helpless without a man ("Someday my Prince will come"). She can't seem to take care of herself at all. Grant it, she is some young child (I guess between 12 and 16).

One of my biggest problems with this movie was that the Prince and the Evil Queen never get names! Walt was able to come up with creative names for 7 goofy dwarfs, but can't give two major characters names! As a child growing up, although I related to Snow, I really wanted to know more about the Prince. But just like Lady Macbeth, he was never given a name, and although he plays such a major role in the movie, he seems to live on the back burner (looking forward to getting back up to Peter Pan when we have a "Hero" instead of a "Princess")

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