Today marks the first entry in a 53-part series of reviews of every animated feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Two reviews will be posted every week until we finish. We’re excited to share our opinion of some of the greatest films of all time!
Disney Animation Review – 1/53: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Ryan Dosier – Last night I watched Walt Disney’s 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If you don’t know, Snow White was the first animated feature film ever produced, Disney or otherwise.
So there’s your history lesson. The film itself is a product of a bygone era which is almost entirely unable to connect in modern times. From her very first scene, Snow White is as obnoxious as Jar-Jar Binks and Councilman Jamm combined. (Yes, I did just reference Star Wars and Parks and Recreation while reviewing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.) In fact, Snow White is barely a character. She is a device with zero motivation, no faults, and absolutely nothing interesting about her. In a world where we have dynamic characters like Rapunzel, Jessie the cowgirl, and Merida, it’s even more jarring to watch the ultra-pathetic Snow White prance about.
Thankfully, substance finally comes to the film about 20 minutes in with the introduction of the Seven Dwarfs, who are instantly and infinitely more interesting than Snow White. Grumpy, Dopey, and Doc are particularly fun characters with humorous quirks and quips. Grumpy is perhaps the most broadly drawn (pun intended) of the Dwarfs, but they are all fun in doses. In fact, the only scenes in the film that I legitimately enjoy are the Dwarf’s mining scene and the Dwarf’s party scene. They’re fun, silly, energetic, and showcase the beautiful animation of Disney’s team of expert animators better than any other scenes in the film.
Then there’s the Evil Queen. The first Disney villain is interesting but lacks the depth and quirk of a truly great villain. She is nothing but pure vanity, greed, and hate. Maybe her character could have developed into something better if she had more screen time. The Evil Queen is briefly present in the first few minutes, then disappears until 45 minutes in. It’s bizarre and you completely forget she’s a threat. Although, by the end of the film, I did find myself more interested in the Evil Queen as a character because she exhibited flaws and interesting character traits.
Unfortunately, Snow White keeps hitting with drawback after drawback. The voice acting is distinctly unremarkable. There is no character whose voice adds depth or Disney magic, a la Jiminy Cricket or Aladdin‘s Genie. The most interesting thing I noticed on this viewing is just how painfully long sequences in the film last. The sequence of the Dwarfs discovering Snow White in their home lasts an incredibly long time and plays out like one of Disney’s “Silly Symphonies” shorts. It certainly stands out in today’s fast-paced film world. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is odd.
All in all, Walt Disney’s first feature film is obviously a labor of love by Disney and his unmatched team of animators. The animation is beautiful, the colors are vibrant, and the layouts are some of the best. If only the story department would have been up to par with the rest of the crew, it could have been so much better. But still, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs deserves to go down in history as one of the most important animated films of all time because of what it brought about, not because of what it is.
And hey, it’s still an infinitely better movie than Snow White and the Huntsman.
The Mickey Mindset, firstname.lastname@example.org