Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' is an animated film made in 1937 by Walt Disney Studios. It is based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a beautiful princess who escapes from her jealous and tyrranical stepmother and finds a refuge in the forest with seven friendly diamond miner dwarfs.

It was a pioneering movie in that it was the first full length animated feature film, in color and with sound and at the time Hollywood considered it something of a folly. Who would sit through a full length animated film? Needless to say, 'Snow White' answered that rhetorical question by becoming one of the biggest hits in the history of cinema, solidifying Disney's claim as the world's foremost animation studio. In fact, advancing the stake was one of Walt Disney's own stated goals for the film. He had already broken the cartoon sound barrier with 'Steamboat Willy, and a few years later brought animation into vivid color. 'Snow White' was merely the next step forward both artistically as well as financially: feature films meant more box-office sales.

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The movie begins with a slow zoom to a huge castle, where the wicked Queen queries her magic mirror with the immortal words, "Magic mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?" the answer, of course, is her virginal rival Snow White, soon to be the target of her vanity. As in the classic Brothers Grimm story 'Snow White' is based on, we are instantly pulled into this magical and sometimes scary world.

Using the original fairy story as loose inspiration, Disney unleashed his team of animators on the material, giving them a great deal of freedom in the development of such a creative breakthrough. The film is peppered with gags but also filled with emotion, comprising a soaring combination of beautiful images and strong and enduring songs like 'Whistle while You Work' and ''Some Day My Prince', the latter virtually a standard. 'Snow White', incidentally, also marked the first commercially released soundtrack.

The film's creators cleverly differentiated between the "dramatic" and "comic" characters in the story. So we see Snow White and Prince Charming drawn in a realisic 'human' manner while the Seven Dwarfs are shown in the traditional rounded, cartoon manner. In this way, adult viewers can appreciate the serious elements of the story whilst the dwarves provided enough comic antics to keep the kids happy.

It is difficult to overestimate the effect that 'Snow White' had on the movie world. It not only permanently established Disney as one of the foremost studios in the world but also advanced the state of animation to such a degree that it wasn't really until the advent of computer animation that anyone arguably pushed the form further. A creative triumph, 'Snow White' inspired hundreds of imitators, gave birth to an empire, and remains to this day the default template for nearly all animated features.

Main Characters and Voices

Adriana Caselotti ... Snow White
Lucille La Verne ... The Queen
Roy Atwell ... Doc
Pinto Colvig ... Grumpy, Sleepy
Otis Harlan ... Happy
Scotty Mattraw ... Bashful
Billy Gilbert ... Sneezy
Eddie Collins ... Dopey
Moroni Olsen ... The Magic Mirror
Stuart Buchanan ... Humbert the Huntsman
Harry Stockwell ... The Prince


Director ... David Hand
Producer ... Walt Disney
Production Company ... Walt Disney Productions
Story ... Based on the Grimm Fairy Tale
Screenplay ... Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Dick Richard, Merrill de Maris, Webb Smith
Format ... Color (Technicolor)
Initial Release ... 21 December, 1937
Running Time ... Between 80-86 minutes

Academy Awards

No Wins, but one Special Award:
To Walt Disney for 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, recognized as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field for the motion picture cartoon.
1 Unsuccessful Nomination:
Music (Scoring) ... Walt Disney Studio Music Dept.,(Frank Churchill, Leigh Harlilne and Paul J. Smith)