Skip to main content

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

A Disney Tale: A young princess narrowly avoids death on the command of her evil stepmother.  She shacks up with a group of mining dwarves but the stepmother finds her and puts her to sleep with a poisoned apple.  The dwarves put her inside a glass coffin until a prince comes and kisses her, releasing her from the spell to live happily ever after.

Disney Heroine: Snow White is the first Disney princess, but having viewed this around the same time as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (my daughter is going through a Disney Princess phase) I would argue that those princesses are what we think of when we talk about Disney Princesses.  Cinderella and Aurora are twee and feminine, but Snow takes it to the extreme.  She is far too twee for my tastes, talking to the animals, cleaning and cooking for the dwarves and fawning over the first man she sets eyes on.  I'm also not sure how old she is supposed to be.  Apparently she is supposed to be 14  which is an increase from the original fairy tale where she is around 7, an age deemed too young for the story's plot.  Quite why 14 is a more acceptable age for a young girl to go off with the first man she meets (and hardly exchanges two words with) I'll never know.  Even 16 would be pushing it.  Snow White's problem, as the presenter of Mousterpiece Cinema (a Disney film podcast) points out, is that she is completely passive throughout.  She never seems to consider the Queen's threat seriously beyond her initial freak out in the forest and, at the beginning of the story, doesn't seem even slightly bothered that she has been demoted to a servant in her own castle!  Watching these films with my 2 year old daughter has really made me think about the role models being presented by the Disney princesses.  Snow White is an appalling role model for young girls.  She is a servant in her own castle; she goes off with the first man who shows an interest in her and she spends her spare time cooking and cleaning for a group of lazy, self-centred men.

Disney Hero: The Prince is pretty much a minor character.  He appears briefly at the beginning and end of the film.  He seems rather opportunistic, climbing over the castle wall and almost accosting Snow White.  He then disappears and then at the end of the film is apparently searching for Snow White and finds her glass coffin  Weirdo that he is he decides to kiss the (supposedly) year long dead Snow White and then, when she miraculously revives, takes her away to his castle in the clouds (or at least that is how the final scene is painted).  The Prince has the good looks needed to be a Disney Prince (along with Charming, Philip, Eric etc) but has no character and even less purpose other than take Snow White away to whatever life he has planned for her.

Disney Villain: The Evil Queen of Snow White is iconic.  As Disney villains go she is one of the top tier but this seems mostly to do with her presence in the first full length film.  In the film she actually has very little to do and only ever seems concerned with her status as 'the fairest of them all'.  Once Upon a Time, the TV series based on the Disney versions of fairytales (and other legends and folklore) has the Evil Queen at the centre of their series and she is a superb character.  The animated version has some good scenes, but ultimately fails to make much of an impact - she doesn't even get a song!  There are a couple of odd story decisions.  We never get to see how she became Queen in the first place (she is Snow's stepmother after all) or where the King has gone, or how she is able to put Snow White into the position of a servant.  Also, we never see her reaction to the discovery that the Hunstman lied to her about killing Snow.  Her character is redeemed partly with the chilling sequences where she transforms into the old hag and her killing of Snow White.  Quite why she would choose a spell with a get out clause rather than permanent death is beyond me.  Seeing how easily she gets close to Snow, it would have been simple for her to do away with her completely.

The Huntsman also fits, partly into this category, working for the Queen as he does.  He only features in two scene though, one where he takes the Queen's order to kill Snow and then when he attempts and fails to go through with the plan.  As such, he has very little impact on the overall story.

Disney Sidekicks: The Seven Dwarfs are 7 of the most iconic Disney sidekicks/comedy characters.  They're 7 personalities - Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful, Sleepy and Doc are ingrained in Western culture.  No other production is allowed to use those seven names (ABC's Once Upon a Time being Disney-linked is, of course, allowed) which means pantomimes often have seven not quite Disney names.  They are, by their nature, one-dimensional with Sneezy, Bashful and Sleepy being little more than three repeated gags.  Happy is practically non-existent and the only inching towards 2 dimensions comes with Dopey, Doc and most notably, Grumpy.  Although horrendously misogynistic (to the point where he actually mutters 'Women!') Grumpy is the only character in the whole film who seems to go on some sort of emotional journey - begrudging Snow's presence, resisting her motherly instruction but finally grieving over her death and shedding a tear for the girl.  Dopey provides plenty of comic relief and is genuinely amusing.

Disney Creatures: The grand tradition of cute Disney animals is here from the very beginning of the Disney canon.  Numerous woodland creatures meet Snow White in the woods, lead her to the dwarf's cottage and help her tidy up.  There are actually loads of them and they contribute significantly to the plot in that they rush to warn the Dwarfs that the Queen is with Snow White and carry them back to the cottage to save her.  There is also a cute tortoise who is always a few minutes behind the other animals and spends a lot of the time spinning around in his shell.

Disney Magic: The Magic Mirror is a quite chilling creation.  It's sickly green face emerging from the massive mirror with blank eyes and a deep, ominous voice, does lend a grandness to the scenes with the Queen.  It is one of the stronger elements of the film.  The Queen's transformation and poisoned apple spells are also creepily animated.

Disney Lands: Snow White is a German fairytale, although the setting for the film is fairly generic and undefined, beyond being European in some way.  The castle is impressive, particularly the Queen's secret lair.  The scene where she emerges from under the castle via a river in the fog is very atmospheric.  The forest is, at first, presented as horrific in a particularly scary sequence, and then becomes soft and cuddly with the arrival of the animals.  The Dwarfs cottage is a beautifully drawn setting with intricate carvings and lovely details throughout.  Grumpy's pipe organ is wonderful.  The Dwarf mine and rocky cliff side where the Queen dies are suitably atmospheric for their brief appearances.

Disney Songs: I'm not a fan of the songs in Snow White.  Heigh Ho is catchy enough and the Silly Song is fun, but not particularly classic in the way that later 'comedy' songs are.  Unfortunately, the lion's share of the songs are sung by Snow White who has a horribly high-pitched voice.  This is certainly evocative of the era when many musicals seemed to have female singers with this strange high-pitched whine but I can never get along with it.  It doesn't help that her songs aren't great.  Someday my Prince will come is okay but I'm not sure it would ever be considered the classic it is, if it weren't for its presence in the first film.

Disney Finale: Snow White is a film which rightly deserves its legendary status but take away the fact it is the 'first full length animated film' and you aren't left with the greatest story in the Disney canon.  The characters are all one-dimensional and the songs not catchy enough.  The flaws in Snow White's character will never sit well with me and the Queen isn't the full-on villain that comes along later in the canon.  Hey, but there's always Dopey to make us smile.  And that tortoise.  I do like the tortoise.


Popular posts from this blog


A Disney Tale: A baby elephant is delivered to a circus elephant.  The baby, nicknamed Dumbo, has huge ears and is mocked by the other circus elephants and visitors to the circus.  When his mother tries to defendhim, she is separated from Dumbo and imprisoned.  Dumbo ends up working with the clowns but, after a drunken night with his new friend Timothy Mouse, Dumbo discovers he can fly with the aid of his massive ears.  At the circus, he becomes a sensation and is reunited with his mother.

Disney Heroine: Dumbo lacks significant human characters so the role of Disney Heroine for this film really falls to Dumbo's mother, Mrs Jumbo.  Her actions protecting Dumbo from the mean children at the circus are the catalyst for many of the film's later events.  The sorrow she feels when imprisoned in solitary confinement and separated from her only child is palpable as is her joy when reunited and travelling in the Jumbo family's private carriage at the back of Casey Jnr.  Interesting…

Pinocchio Miscellaneous

Pinocchio also appears in two other attractions at Disney parks.

Firstly the film has a large presence in Disneyland California's Storybook Land Canal Boats.  The beginning of the ride sees boats pass through the mouth of Monstro the Whale (possibly why this isn't a feature of the dark ride) and then on to see various miniature scenes of Disney films, one of which is Geppetto's village.

I will review Storybook Land Canal Boats - and its Disneyland Paris equivalent - in more detail in the future as it is a ride themed around a number of different films rather than being Pinocchio-centric.

I do like the idea of travelling through Monstro's mouth, though (in Paris it is the opening to the Cave of Wonders instead).

Pinocchio also has a presence in Fantasmic! with both Pinocchio and Monstro the Whale appearing at various points in all three versions of the show (at Walt Disney Hollywood Studios; Disneyland California and Tokyo DisneySea).

I have seen the Hollywood Studios versi…

Dumbo Miscellaneous

For such an iconic character, the one thing missing from the world of Dumbo is a character meet and greet around the parks.  However, at a Disneyland fireworks display around 2009, Dumbo was seen to fly around the castle (as seen in the image above).  Videos of the show suggest this was quite an awesome sight.  He seems to be a moving puppet (I'm assuming there isn't anyone inside him).

Dumbo also features in a number of Disney computer games.  He is a 'summon' in the Kingdom Hearts series of role play games (a character who the player 'summons' to aid them in battle) and also features in a segment of Disney's Villain's Revenge game.  This is slightly odd because, as I pointed out in my review of the film, there is no real clear villain in Dumbo.   In the game, the Ringmaster - the closest the film gets to a traditional villain - is forcing Dumbo to perform in his circus in a much more sadistic way than is ever presented in the film.  The player has to r…