Sitting down to watch our first movie together, I thought I had a rough mental sketch of how Snow White would go: It’d be about an hour and a half long, Snow White would be the pristine queen of the forest, meet the dwarfs, anger the queen, dance, sing, and give the prince a kiss. Classic! I knew I was missing a substantial amount in what I remembered, but I never guessed that I had let so much of this movie drop out of my memory. Time to start again – first in a long series of Disney movies with me and Dréa.
Right off the bat, a note from Walt Disney in the opening credits was a surprise. In hindsight, with so many parks, products, movies, and memories behind Disney, it’s almost quaint to think that they were in a position to thank everyone for watching their animations. The “Once Upon A Time” opening book felt like a Star Wars crawl – ‘A long time ago in a wooded glen far, far away, Snow White was picking flowers. The Queen of the realm watched from afar…’
It’s so bizarre to watch the first Disney film, with the most recent developments in animation tech brought to bear with Pixar and Disney’s newest movies. I swear, I could see this individual frames, and it kinda took me out of the action. Is that even a fair criticism to level at animation from an era where people lived through the Great Depression? This is cutting-edge for its time, and it still shows in the care they put into every drawing. Every frame is a painting.
Snow White and the Awful Hike, more like. I imagine the animators came in once on a very rainy day, and put their experiences onto the cells.
You just know Dopey’s going to mess something up as soon as he comes onto the screen, but it’s a slow burn.
Nevermind that! He slams the door while everyone’s quiet, searching for the intruder, and the dwarfs react like so many elephants before a mouse. I love how it never cuts to Snow White herself and stays with the dwarfs to show their perspective. It makes it feel like a mini PG-rated horror movie. So much tension…
Now that everyone gets to know each other, Snow White sets in on roasting the dwarfs on their characteristics. Which isn’t hard, to be fair, when you’re literally named Grumpy. What were his dwarf parents thinking?
The movie starts to drag a bit with the dwarfs washing up for dinner. Feels a bit like a Tolkien book, lingering over every part of the process – this is taking longer than the opening exposition. The wash bin has had more screen time than the prince so far!
The mountainside chase scene and the dwarfs crossing the log were the only 2 concrete “scenes” that I remember from watching this however long ago. Plus the dwarfs dancing with Snow White in their home. It’s fun to latch onto a long-lost memory like these and go “oh, I know this!” Following the lightning strike and the witch’s fall, the vultures circling was sincerely eerie. Nothing but quiet as they coast down on silent wings.
Skip ahead, Prince Charming has had less development than a turtle, but here he is — Mr. Reliable. Snow White’s eyes flutter open, and she sees this man she’s met once before standing over her with a half smile. She takes it all in stride though and goes to make Grumpy blush with a kiss. Best character arc in the movie, IMO, that surly short miner. Now the Prince and his partner get to ride off into their storybook elysian sunset, evil vanquished, and the grace of goodwill spreading throughout the land. No word on who will succeed the queen (Sneezy?).
Final thoughts: Not only did it feel like a storybook, it literally opened with one as a framing device! I felt more like a historian watching this than I did feeling engaged or entertained. Looking forward to the movies to come.