Disney Movies: Snow White

So I decided to do a thing: watch all the wholesome, animated Disney movies in their respective orders and critique them. We shall see if I can offend anyone. I suppose it would be a mark in history if I didn’t.

As an English Literature student about to get her B.A., I understand a thing or two about plots and characters. However, for this wee project of mine, I will be focusing on four key things: Story consistency, character development, animation style and music, and plot coherence. So — number une:


Snow white

Just a background — Snow White was released in 1937 when Walt Disney was still alive and when credits happened at the beginning of movies. This movie is vintage; one straight from the vaults. It is also based roughly off the original Grimms’ version of Snow White. I say ‘roughly’ because, let’s face it, they do seem to change the main premise.

However, I was pleasantly surprised with how I felt about this movie. Apparently I had watched it a lot as a child. That and Cinderella, among a few others. But I couldn’t remember really anything about it except that I had been terrified of the forest scene and that there was ‘some dumb love’ in it. But — I actually quite liked it upon watching it again. It left me feeling light and happy on the inside, in fact. I didn’t even question it — for once.


Disney’s Snow White is quite consistent. Correct: Beyond consistent. All Snow White wants is her prince and she makes that very clear in the beginning when she calls into her wishing well. And all the evil queen wants is to be the most beautiful, which is also made clear from the beginning. We do not see these things change in the slightest. When Snow White makes a wish or sings a song about a wish or talks to others about wishes, it is always the same one. When it is the Queen’s turn on camera, all we seem to see is her bitching about little Snow. Its consistency is as fluid and predictable as an original fairy tale, but that was one of the things I liked about it.


Okay, here’s where things fall a tad. So yes, we decided the consistency is just like a fairy tale story. Well – so are the characters’ development. Or lack thereof, so to speak. Though all the characters have rather interesting moments of hilarity and surprise — like when the evil queen is cackling around as an old lady, kicking cobwebby, empty water pitchers at skeletons and laughing herself hoarse at the idea of Snow White being buried alive and when the dwarfs gang up on Grumpy to get him to wash up, there is still a lack of progression among the characters. Snow stays her innocent, high-pitched and overly-kind self, the Prince starts and remains as the dialogue-less, singing man of apparent charm, while the Queen is and always will be the ghastly, haggardly self that she dies as. Perhaps the most development in that sense is actually with the Queen. At least — her story line contains the most irony. The dwarfs, I think, are also quite developed, though they don’t change too much either. Besides their obvious names, they all also have distinct personalities that don’t really relate to their names, except Grumpy’s of course. Doc, for example, can’t seem to stop stammering and confusing words around, which just seems to be his thing. Snow is perhaps the only one who never changes, but I actually think Disney does that on purpose. So! With all of this in mind, perhaps the lack of true character development actually works well for this story. And — they all get what they want, don’t they? For the most part, anyway.


Here, I was definitely surprised. And oddly mesmerized. I found the animation intriguing and hard to look away from. Even in the beginning, when it was VERY easy to tell how old it was, it was also clear how amazing it was for its time! The purposeful detail to the dwarfs, opposed to the lack thereof to Snow White, the Prince and even the Queen, was a rather interesting and surely purposeful paradox. The latter all had smaller and quainter features that barely distinguished them from each other. The dwarfs, on the other hand, all had very large noses, long eyelashes, plump cheeks and a vast array of expressions. Snow’s only real specific character animation was her sweet, crinkled smile that, I’ll admit, was well done. But everything about her was small. Her eyes, her mouth, her body. She was even young, I do believe, not more than 13 it would appear. The Prince was very small-featured as well. Even the Queen, when she looked like herself, anyway. The music, of course, was the most vintage. Its old-timey tunes only seemed to lighten my heart and remind me of some of the other older Disneys, like Bambi. The music was just right – not a tough too much and not a touch too little. Though Snow’s songs were a bit much because she was so high-pitched. But that was all in her character, it would seem.


This movie was made to be a fairy tale. Though lacking really any kind of depth or philosophical meaning, it contained a solid and firm fairy-tale-esk hold on morality. Be kind. Preserve innocence. Dream on. Capture beauty. Listen to women of the house. Don’t talk to strangers — and most definitely don’t eat their ultra-red apples. Be careful what you wish for. Be patient and good. And all of these are quite obvious to find and see. Actually, there’s really no finding needed. Most of them are right out in the open. In fact, the plot is so fairy tale that we don’t even really need anything explained. Setting, character connections and even relevance are all thrown out the window — but the movie works anyway. Because its fairy-tale-esk-ness is established right from the beginning with the opening of the book, everything we see here is believable, cute, and even a touch fun. I was definitely invested in the workings of the story.


What do you think?