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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs(1937)
The fairy tale of Snow White, a beautiful young maiden cast into a deep sleep by her evil step-mother, but rescued from the dark magic spell through the love of handsome Prince Charming.
The first animated full color sound motion picture.
For more about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray release, see the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray Review
Starring: Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Stuart Buchanan (I), Roy Atwell, Pinto Colvig, Otis Harlan
Directors: William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen
» See full cast & crew
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray Review
Disney rolls out a striking Blu carpet for its first animated feature film...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 29, 2009
It's impossible to dig into Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs without first mentioning its enormous influence on modern animation and filmmaking as a whole. More than the first animated feature, more than a stunning testament to its artists' craft and talent, more than an incarnation of resurgent hope in Depression-era America, the film is an icon in the industry; an icon that birthed the Disney empire, instantly established animation as a legitimate artform and respected genre, and paved the road for every Pixar powerhouse and traditionally animated feature since. But like Citizen Kane and many other innovative monoliths, the film itself is arguably less impressive than the role it's played in cinematic history. While its artistry is still undeniably magnificent, its characters are endearing animated archetypes, and its story is still able to capture the imagination of young and old minds alike, Snow White doesn't resonate as readily as it did in the 20th Century. It remains an influential classic, sure, but one that has evolved into a different sort of classic than it was seventy, thirty, even ten years ago.
Most everyone knows the story of Snow White, even those who've never had the opportunity to actually watch it. It's become as much a part of our cultural consciousness as The Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life, Jaws, and Star Wars. Based on a 19th century Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs tells the tale of a young maiden (voiced by Adriana Caselotti) who's so beautiful that she inadvertently invites the wrath and hatred of her stepmother (Lucille La Verne), an evil queen with a penchant for dark magic. After fleeing her stepmother's kingdom, Snow White stumbles upon the woodland cottage of seven diminutive men -- Sleepy (Pinto Colvig), Sneezy (Billy Gilbert), Happy (Otis Harlan), Bashful (Scotty Mattraw), Grumpy (Colvig as well), Dopey (Eddie Collins), and Doc (Roy Atwell) -- who agree to take her in. Before long, they become enchanted with their new guest. She cooks, cleans, and gives them everything a mother would, if they had one. Unfortunately, her stepmother learns the girl is still alive. After disguising herself as a decrepit crone and tricking Snow White into eating a poisonous apple, the girl lies dead. However, the dutiful devotion of her dwarfen hosts and the arrival of a Prince (Harry Stockwell) may just help the slumbering girl escape her eternal sleep.
You have to hand it to Walt Disney. Not only did Snow White solidify his position as a creative and entrepreneurial genius of his day, it represented the culmination of his team's lead, paint, and tears. Surpassing the moviegoing public's every expectation, Disney produced an unequivocal hit; one that has continually blessed his successors in the seventy-two years since. You can see its animators' souls shining through every scene, you can see the faces of the men who brought it to life in every grumpy scowl and dopey expression that graces the screen, you can even see its father's confidence in every emotional encounter and joyous eruption of song. At a time when advisors worried such colorful animation would blind audiences, Disney infused his picture with bold reds and blues (even though he relented a bit and toned down his palette). As critics and cynics predicted the failure of a feature-length animated film, Uncle Walt saw the potential in its form. When money was tough to come by, he sold investors on his vision, opening the door for subsequent features and the parade of soon-to-be masterpieces that would follow. Even today, despite unimaginable strides in computer animation, Snow White stands as a staggering accomplishment. The hours, months, and years that went into its production dances across every frame; Disney's late nights, Sweatbox screenings, and drive for perfection flutter into view as gracefully as the songbirds that land on Snow White's shoulders.
But as astonishing an achievement as the film is, several elements have prevented it from aging as well as other timeless animated entries in the studio's canon. Though the Dwarfs remain some of Disney's most indelible characters, Snow White herself is, sorry to say, a tad grating. As memorable as the film's songs are, as engaging as its playful conversations may be, Caselotti's sometimes-shrill vibrato pierces the air like an icepick to the brain. More often than not, it's bearable -- particularly since it fits in well with the vocal theatrics that dominated the '30s and '40s -- but I can't help but wince a bit every time Caselotti attempts to a crack my glasses. Likewise, while the story is magical and its developments as unforgettable as they come, the film's pacing is quite slow, especially by modern standards. The Dwarfs and the Queen, as well as supporting characters like the Magic Mirror (Moroni Olsen) and the Huntsman (Stuart Buchanan), keep things plowing along nicely, but the title character is a constant killjoy. All of that being said, every issue that haunts Snow White is a minor one simply because each one is a product of the era, rather than a fundamental problem with the film. Yes, Snow White's personality is a relic of a bygone age, and yes, her dependence on every man with a winning smile or a fearsome pickaxe offends modern sensibilities, but to hold such things against Disney's film, beyond personal preference, is fairly narrow-minded.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs hasn't stood every test of time, but it has withstood every test that matters. As an early cinematic marvel, it readily reveals its creators' commitment and skill, trotting out a slew of innovative firsts that have inspired every animated film since. As a beloved classic, it still has the power to entertain and entrance, leaving my son as wide-eyed as it left me when I was four... as wide-eyed as it left my parents when they were the same age. As a triumph in filmmaking, it stands as a towering milestone in Walt Disney's sterling career; a near-perfect storm of storytelling, artistry, design, and craftsmanship. As a mesmerizing, heartfelt passion project, it pulses with the enthusiasm of all those who helped make it a reality. Personal nitpicks aside, Snow White isn't just the first animated Disney film, it's one of its strongest. It may be showing some wrinkles, but if its recent restoration proves anything, it will be around for a long, long time, filling young eyes with wonder and old hearts with nostalgia for generations to come.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray, Video Quality
While upgraded video quality will always be a boon in my book, the thing I love most about the advent of high definition home video is the incentive it provides studios to revisit, restore, and reinvigorate their catalog classics. Disney, arguably more than any other studio (Warner being the biggest exception), has taken such potential to heart, digging into their vault and remastering films that, even five years ago, no one would have dreamed could ever look so good. Arriving just seven months after the studio's stunning restoration of Pinocchio, Snow White earns the same high-quality, high-dollar overhaul, granting new life to the 1937 animated wonder that started it all. Presented with an incredible 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer, the Blu-ray edition of the film is a sight to behold. Colors are bold and rewarding, black levels are deep and inky, and contrast, in spite of some wavering attributable to the original animation cells, is strong and stunning. Detail is equally exceptional, revealing every stroke of its painters' brushes, every stutter in the lineart, and every errant flick of its artists' pens. Sharpness is dependent on the source itself -- several shots are soft by today's animation standards -- but a quick comparison to previous DVD releases of the film showcases the staggering improvements the image has undergone. While Snow White was already considered a handcrafted masterpiece of its day, this Blu-ray revival makes it clear that craftsmanship and sheer artistic passion can leave just as lasting an impression in 2009 as it did seventy-two years ago.
On the technical front, Snow White's transfer doesn't exhibit any significant artifacting, banding, aliasing, or distracting digital tampering. The image is clean and satisfying, offering stable lines and uncluttered fills in each and every scene. Unfortunately, I did catch two minor -- exceedingly minor -- anomalies: a bit of intermittent ringing (which I admit may be a product of the original animation cells rather than edge enhancement) and some nearly negligible mosquito noise (for the most noticeable example of this oddity, study the lineart on the forest animals shortly before they attack the old crone). That being said, both issues are so trivial that I almost feel ridiculous even mentioning them. I can't imagine Snow White will ever look better than it does here. The Blu-ray transfer offers fans a magnificent resurrection of a timeless classic and a fittingly meticulous, undeniably loving restoration of its every weary frame. Kudos, Disney.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Snow White also receives a remarkable audio restoration in the form of an impressive 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track; one that captures the tone and tenor of the film's recordings and gives its original mix a notably authentic facelift. Disney pays the utmost respect to the film's sonic roots, relegating the LFE channel to a support role and granting the rear speakers more subtle responsibilities. While it results in more subdued low-end output and less obvious soundfield immersion, anything more would inject artificiality into Disney's faithful presentation. Voices are clear and intelligible, the musical score is rich and robust, and the songs sound better than ever. Directionality is limited but pans are smooth, creating a front-heavy but effective experience. There are sequences that pack an unexpected punch -- primarily those that occur during a third-act thunder storm and subsequent chase scene -- but anyone expecting a roaring revelation will be sorely (and thankfully) disappointed. Cinephiles, however, will be quite pleased with Disney's oh-so-proficient track, noting the audible nuances the lossless remix uncovers at every turn. As an added bonus, the studio has also included a restored version of the film's original mono track (albeit via a 192kbps Dolby Digital mix), meaning fans will be able to hear Snow White as it was first heard. Both tracks represent an altogether commendable effort sure to leave listeners with a smile.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The studio's passion for Snow White is just as evident in the 3-Disc Blu-ray edition's supplemental package. It not only offers fans a wealth of exclusive features, including a captivating interactive tour of the production, it presents the majority of its content in gorgeous high definition. The only downside? A variety of notable features from the 2001 2-Disc Special Edition DVD are missing. Namely, more abandoned sequences, storyboard to screen comparisons, a 40-minute documentary hosted by Angela Lansbury, and other video and audio extras. Yes, packing the additional content into this set would have probably required a fourth disc, and yes, it would have injected some repetition into the package, but retaining the 2001 DVD's features would have eliminated any need to hang onto previous releases of the film. Still, despite this relatively slight oversight, Disney continues to prove it's one of the studios to beat when it comes to the overall quality, value, and replayability of a classic catalog release.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The 3-disc Blu-ray edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a near-definitive release of the animated film that started it all. Its gorgeous restoration is simply the beginning. What follows is a glorious video transfer, a fit and faithful DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, and a mammoth collection of special features. Sure, some supplemental content was left behind on the 2001 Special Edition DVD, but that shouldn't prevent any animation enthusiast, Disney fan, or classic cinephile from nabbing this release post haste. I can't imagine anyone -- aside from the dark-hearted stepmothers among you -- will be disappointed or underwhelmed by this fantastic, top-notch release.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Other Editions
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - October 6th - October 6, 2009
For Disney, the animated classic 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' represents many firsts. It was not only the company's first animated feature, but also the first commercially successful animated feature ever released. Today, it achieves another first as the first ...
• Snow White Blu-ray Drops to $9.99 with Promo Code - October 5, 2009
We know that many of you have already taken advantage of the amazing Amazon 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' Blu-ray deal, but also realize that even at that ridiculously low price, some were hesitant. To those holding back, be aware that Amazon has dropped ...
• Deal Alert: $10 off Snow White BD at Amazon (Update 2) - September 24, 2009
Amazon is currently offering a $10 discount off the purchase of the Blu-ray of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. Just input the promotional code "snowhite" (only one W) at checkout. If used on the combo edition with Blu- ray packaging, this brings the final ...
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