Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day One - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Released: February 4, 1938
Director: David Hand (Supervising)
Formats Released: VHS, Two DVD Editions, Blu-Ray
Format Watched: DVD included in Blu-Ray Edition
Watched with: My dog Woody
Snacks: Microwave popcorn and a Cherry Coke Zero

Of course, I had to start with Snow White there just was not other choice. This is the movie that started it all. This would be like talking about Personal Computers without mentioning the first Macintosh, Color movies without Wizard of Oz or sci-fi movies without The Matrix.

I could only imagine what it was like to see this movie in 1938. When you think about the accomplishment that it is, it is now still mind blowing. I read in a book about Snow White that it was the largest collaborative art project ever, but the book was from 1994 and that may have changed. I think that over 700 people were involved in this project and it took like 5 years to make.

My Thoughts on the film:

It's been a while since I've really watched it, I watched the Blu-Ray a month or two ago but I didn't really watch the movie. I sat down today and just watched it, no computer, no chatting with my wife, I just watched the movie. I have to say that as a movie it is pretty amazing. It is compact story telling. With a running time of around 83 minutes they manage to pack a lot of movie in there. There is nothing extra, no throw away scenes, everything there has a purpose and it works.

There are only 11 non animal characters in the movie and three of them don't really have names, the Queen, the Huntsman and the Prince. He is commonly called Prince Charming now, but he is never called that in the movie. At one point Snow White talks about a prince who is charming but that's it.

I love soundtracks to films so I always make a point of really listening and the soundtrack to this movie is really good. The songs are classics and not much needs to be said about them but the incidental score is great as well. If you listen, there is really less than 4 minutes in the movie that does not have music in it. It is constantly there and it really helps get the emotions of the movie across to the audience.

Favorite part of movie:

I don't know if I have a favorite part of the movie but I do have a couple favorite bits of animation. First is when the dwarfs are fighting over the pillow and it pops showering the feathers all over. You can pretty much pick out the details of every feather! Considering that the feathers are on the screen for about 2 seconds, at 24 cels a second that is some serious work. The other scene is the end showing the castle in the clouds. It's just iconic and it sets the stage for pretty much every princess movie since.

Things I never noticed before:

-Snow White is wearing wooden clogs as she cleans the steps in the beginning.
-Snow White runs through the woods in high heels.
-During the dance sequence with the dwarfs, Dopey holds a cymbal that Snow White kicks which he wears like a Chinese hat and squints his eyes as he slides off the screen.
-At the end, Snow White rides side saddle.

Final thoughts:

Over all it's a work of art. Almost all of the backgrounds are watercolor on white paper. There are very few errors in the film. The multi-plane camera is amazing, especially in the forest scene. It's made an impact on my Disney collection without my even knowing it.

Before watching the film I did some reading up on the film and there was a ton of information out there. Both Wikipedia and IMDB are crammed with facts and trivia. I have two books about the movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: An Art in its Making from 1994, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs & the Making of the Classic film which is undated but from the 1990's. I don't remember buying these books or how they got in my collection but they are there.

Watching the film I did have some comments like, why is she wearing heels while picking flowers, that she is basically breaking into and trespassing in the dwarfs house, the scene with Dopey and the cymbal is mildly racist, and stuff like that, but that doesn't really matter. I firmly believe that you cannot use the filter of the 2000's when looking at a movie from the 1930's, you just have to accept it for what it is and either enjoy it or not. I chose to enjoy it and I am glad it is in my collection.

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