Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


The first ever feature-length cartoon begins with a slow zoom to a huge castle where the wicked Queen (Lucille La Verne) asks her Magic Mirror (Moroni Olsen) the most memorable words of the fairy tale - "Magic Mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?" The answer of course is her perfect step-daughter, Snow White (Adriana Caselotti), who becomes the new target of her vanity. The Queen hires her Huntsman (Stuart Buchanan) to take Snow White into the forest and kill her. The Huntsman, however, can't do it and she runs away. Eventually she stumbles upon a little cottage deep in the forest and is taken in by the seven dwarfs who live there - Doc (Roy Atwell), Happy (Otis Harlan), Grumpy (Pinto Colvig), Sleepy (also Colvig), Sneezy (Barry Gilbert), Bashful (Scotty Mattraw) and Dopey.

In Snow White Walt Disney took a huge gamble. Cartoons had never been more than around twenty minutes before - barely one-quarter the length of Snow White - and very rarely was a film made in colour as Hollywood felt that colour films may overwhelm the audience in those early decades of cinema. Needless to say Snow White defied all odds, becoming the most successful film in history (until the release of Gone with the Wind two years later), earning over $180 million at the American and Canadian box office alone (a very impressive feat considering a ticket cost, on average, 30 cents), making Disney one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and opening the path for Disney to keep churning out more and more successful animated features.

Loosely basing the film on the Brothers Grimm story Disney gave his animation team a great deal of freedom in the development of such a breakthrough in cinema. The film is full of great gags - particularly in the scenes involving the overly loveable mute Dopey - but also filled with tear-inducing emotion - especially the scene where the dwarfs grieve over Snow White's apparent death. The film also has a wonderful combination of beautiful images, and strong, enduring songs such as Heigh-Ho, Whistle While you Work and Some Day my Prince Will Come. Incidentally Snow White also marked the first commercially released soundtrack.

You can never overestimate the effect of Snow White. Not only did it permanently establish Disney as one of the biggest studios in the world, but also advanced animation to such a high standard that it wasn't really pushed any further till the invention of computer animation a good four and a half decades later. A creative triumph Snow White inspired hundreds of imitators, gave birth to an entire genre, and remains to this day a default template for nearly all animated features, deservedly becoming a milestone in cinema history.

Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Roy Atwell, Pinto Colvig, Otis Harlan, Billy Gilbert, Scotty Mattraw, Moroni Olsen, Harry Stockwell, Stuart Buchanan.

Oscar: Honorary Award - one statuette, seven miniature statuettes (Walt Disney).
Oscar nomination: Best Original Score (Leigh Harline, Frank Churchill, Paul J. Smith).

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