“Make a wish into the well, that’s all you have to do. And if you hear it echoing your wish will sure come true.”
Now the movie is known by the tagline “The one that started it all” which I think you’ll agree is far better than one of the other options: “The happiest, dopiest, grumpiest, sneeziest movie of the year.” I’m of course referring to Walt Disney’s first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Derided by critics and most of Hollywood while in production Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was known as “Disney’s Folly.” During its first release however Snow White obtained the record of highest-grossing film and was nominated for an Oscar for best musical score.
Now we here at Verdict have reviewed the tale of Miss White and her compatriots twice before and I highly suggest you read both of those reviews, one by Retired Judge Michael Rankins and the other by our own Chief Justice Michael Stailey. Between the two of them there’s just about all the background information you could want on Snow White, either as a DVD release or a Blu-ray. But for those of you who merely want a bit of background I’ll do my best to give you a quick synopsis of the story as well as some not-yet-included tidbits.
To begin we have our heroine Snow White (Adriana Caselotti), a young princess who lives in a castle working as a scullery maid for her stepmother the Queen (Lucille La Verne). Snow White is pretty content, all things considered, yet she longs for her true love to find her one day. And he does, much to her delight. But the Queen isn’t down with Snow White finding happiness. A jealous and vain woman she summons a slave to her magic mirror every day, asking “Who is the fairest?” and as long as she herself is the answer Snow White is safe. But soon after Snow meets her beau the mirror announces the Queen is no longer fairest and indeed Snow White now holds the title. Enraged the Queen summons her Hunstman (Stuart Buchanan) to murder Snow White but he cannot. Instead he urges the young princess to run away far into the forest and never return. And Snow White indeed harkens his words and finds herself at the cottage of, you guessed it, the Seven Dwarfs. The Queen soon realizes the betrayal and transforms herself into a crone, creating a poisoned apple to give Snow White. The only cure to the poison’s sleeping death is love’s first kiss and there’s no chance of that, Snow White will be buried alive! But you know the Seven Dwarfs will find a way to help Snow White get her happily ever after, no matter how unwittingly it occurs.
In terms of its legacy there really is no parallel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Frozen. Inside out. The Lion King. Aladdin. These are just a few of the full-length animated feature films which would not exist had it not been for the experiment which was Walt Disney’s 1937 release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But it’s not merely a legacy of 50-plus animated films which can be counted amongst the heritage of Snow White, it’s other things we simply take for granted today. For example, the art of animating characters so their emotions can clearly be seen as having internal motivation. Full-length animated features that are also musicals is another overlooked fact. Using fairy tales as the inspiration for a story’s interpretation. And let’s not forget the Disney tradition of having a dead parent! Where is Snow White’s father? Is he the prisoner the Queen cackles to? What happened to Snow White’s mom that necessitated a remarriage in the first place? Who’s investigating this?! But I digress. You know what else would not exist were it not for Snow and her seven friends? Walt Disney World. Disney Land. Disney on Ice, even! The proceeds from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were used to finance Walt Disney Studios and from there everything else came.
So how can you tell if you want to purchase this version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Well you won’t have any issues with the technical specs. I’ll echo Chief Justice Stailey’s remarks when I say it’s amazing how beautiful this Blu-ray is, age notwithstanding. Technically speaking this is the same transfer as the 2009 Diamond Edition. The 1080p transfer is gorgeous. While the animation style itself as well as the 1.33:1 aspect ratio may be dated it’s as beautifully remastered and preserved an example of that style as you could hope for. No blurriness or loss of focus, no dust or debris. The picture is crisp and clear and lovely. The color palette may not rely on a lot of differing saturation levels but the textures within the frames are beautiful. The audio is equally impressive with a DTS-HDMA 7.1 track leading the way. Walt Disney took great care in casting voice actors whose work would define their characters; the Dwarfs in particular needed distinct voices to help make them each pop as a unique character as opposed to a mere group of interchangeable friends for our protagonist. And this audio track certainly helps the performances shine, allowing us to hear the clear nuances to each Dwarf, Queen or Princess. The iconic songs from “Someday My Prince Will Come” to “Heigh-Ho” are as well-preserved and presented as the visuals. Truly a bounty for the senses to be found here.
It’s been 6 years since Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray in its Diamond Edition. So in terms of what’s new and what’s not and is it worth buying this version let’s start with the biggest difference. This release, the first of Disney’s new “The Walt Disney Signature Collection” series, is the first release to include a copy of the movie on digital HD. By downloading a copy through Disney Movies Anywhere it allows you to access your purchased digital content through select providers including iTunes and VUDU.
In terms of special features that appear to have been ported over from the Diamond Release in 2009: the deleted scenes, audio commentary, Snow White Returns, the Hyperion Studios Tour, and the Animation Voice Talent are the specifics. The Hyperion Studios Tour is not the interactive one but rather a composition which plays without your navigation.
Here’s a list of the special features on this “Signature Collection” release: DisneyGraph exclusive digital art work, In Walt’s Words, Iconography, @DisneyAnimation, The Fairest Facts of Them All, Snow White in Seventy Seconds, Alternate Sequence: The Prince Meets Snow as White, Disney’s First Feature: The Making of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Bringing Snow White to Life, Hyperion Studios Tour, Decoding the Exposure Sheet, Snow White Returns, Story Meetings: The Dwarfs, Story Meetings: The Huntsman, Deleted Scene: Soup Eating Sequence, Deleted Scene: Bed Building Sequence, Animation Voice Talent, Audio Commentary (ported over from the Platinum Edition DVD in 2002), DVD copy, and a digital copy.
So, if you’re looking for special features, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Blu-ray) The Walt Disney Signature Collection is not your drug of choice. Check Chief Justice Michael Stailey’s review and you’ll see a detailed list of all the other special features which can be found on the Diamond Release. There are only a few new special features here so unless you really want that Digital HD copy I say pass on this. However, if you don’t have the Blu-ray it’s worth the upgrade and if you could care less what special features are included then this is the set for you. It’s gorgeous, both in sound and visuals, and is the start of a whole new collection of Disney Blu-ray releases. So the completist in you can feel good about starting a new hobby perhaps.