Thursday, March 13, 2014

Disney Films: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs- The One Start Started It All

I figured there was no better way to start the movie reviews than with Disney, since everyone can agree that they're pretty family friendly. I'll go through each of the Disney animated/semi-animated films in chronological order. Let's start with the one that started it all:

I like this movie, not for what it actually was, but for what it did. In the 1930s, animated cartoons were what you watched before the feature film started. When Walt Disney got the idea to have the animated cartoon be the feature film, most of the Hollywood execs wrote him off as delusional. Audience members would fidget through a 3 minute cartoon. There was no way they would voluntarily sit through an 83 minute one. Disney himself had such a hard time getting the film produced that he actually mortgaged his house to keep production running, all the while his own family trying to talk him out of it.

In the end, Disney got his way, the film was finished, and it premiered just before Christmas on Dec. 21, 1937. The film was a resounding success, received a standing ovation at its premier, and shut the mouths of Hollywood naysayers forever. People would voluntarily sit through an 83 minute long cartoon. And not just sit through it. They'd actually like it. So much so that Disney got an honorary Academy Award for "a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field".

Disney receiving his honorary Oscar (along with 7 miniature ones) from Shirley Temple.

The film itself is, by today's standards, a bit bland. But for its time, the concept of seeing animation tell a believably touching story was entirely novel. The protagonist really is genuine, the secondary characters really are sympathetic, and the villain really is evil and even kind of scary. Up until that point, animation was lighthearted and fun. Characters were stretched in goofy ways, villains were caricatures not to be taken seriously, and situations, while often perilous, were never truly sad. Characters, as a rule, didn't die. Especially the main heroine. For Snow White to do what it did was nothing short of revolutionary.

While a few parts might be a bit intense for the youngest of viewers (the spooky forest scene and witch's transformation come to mind), anyone older than 5 should be able to handle it without much of a problem. Just make sure to have some tissues handy for yourself. I don't know many adults who don't get misty-eyed when they see Grumpy start sobbing.

Tell me this doesn't get you every time.
Other than that, it's a lighthearted family film that merits a re-watch every now and again. And if the prince coming to raise the dead and carry his bride off to a castle in the clouds doesn't scream "Christian overtones", then I don't know what does.


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