"Some day, my prince will come, Some day, we'll meet again, And away to his castle we'll go, To be happy forever I know... Some day, when spring is here, We'll find our love anew, And the birds will sing, And wedding bells will ring, Some day, when my dreams come true..."
Walt Disney made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into an animated movie in 1937, the first full-length animated feature film in the English-speaking world and the first entry in the Disney Animated Canon. Using a number of new technologies and animation techniques, the film set high standards for future projects and can be considered a defining moment in animation history. Disney adapted the Grimms' story fairly closely, but allowed Snow White and her prince to meet earlier in the story (removing some of the Squick), and made the dwarfs into individual characters. He condensed the three assassination attempts into one, and gave the queen a much more family-friendly Disney Villain Death (though, all things considered, it's arguably more violent than the original one.)Part of the reason Snow White was made was for the purpose of economics — despite the ambitious art and extreme popularity of the Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies shorts, Walt came to realize that no matter how successful his shorts were, the profit came solely from the length of the shorts, not popularity. Realizing that venturing out into making a feature length animated film could not only net him more profit in the long run, but also progress the medium of animation as an art-form, he began work on his daring project. Around four years were spent by Disney trying to get this mammoth project off the ground—first, there was the obsessive attention to story — Walt had the savvy to realize that a feature that played out like a traditional short cartoon comedy would never work, resulting in focus on the characters' personalities, their interactions, as well as their development in the context of the tale. The most prominent example of this character development would be the character of Grumpy, arguably the most important character in the film aside from Snow White herself.Another obstacle was getting the animation to be on par with a live-action film — even the best Silly Symphonies and Mickey Mouse cartoons during the early 1930s were still rigid and crude in their motion. As a result, life-drawing classes and frame-by-frame studying of live-action film took place, in an ambitious attempt to get the most life-like animation possible. The Silly Symphonies began to be used as testing grounds for the work that would go into Snow White — from advancements in story and character animation, to major special effects discoveries. The studio also had to expand considerably to complete the film — from a measly few hundred to nearly 1000 staffers by the films completion. At one point, Walt almost ran out of money during production, and was lucky enough to receive a bank loan by showing what footage had already been finished. During production, the film was derided by critics, as well as Walt's own wife, as "Disney's Folly", the notion that Walt had gone over his head with this project. But upon debut, Snow White was a smash hit — at the time, it was the highest grossing film of all time, and was universally praised by critics, setting the stage for the future Disney films to come, and proving that animation could compete with live-action films. The AFI eventually gave Snow White the #1 spot in their "Animation" list, as well as #49 and #34 on the 1998 and 2007 versions of "Best", #10 on "Villains", and #19 on "Songs" (for "Someday My Prince Will Come"). On both versions of the "Best" list, it stands as the highest-ranking animated feature.As for the plot, we're not even going to bother summarizing it, since everybody knows about this film and its story by now.Filmation made an unofficial sequel called Happily Ever After.Also, you just know Disney did something right when a man like Adolf Hitler of all people considered this the greatest film ever made, to the point where he even acquired a personal copy of the film's print for himself, and possibly drew fan art from it.The Snow White character herself was eventually used as a "Princess of Heart" in the Kingdom Hearts series, in which she is one of seven Princesses to have a pure heart, without an inkling of darkness inside them. Her world was shown in the 2010 game Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep as "Dwarf Woodlands". Some changes to the story have been made for the three protagonists, such as Terra taking the place of the Assassin, but mostly follows the story.
The film contains examples of:
Adaptation Distillation: Sticks very close to the original story, but the things it cuts out (the two other ways Snow White was going to be murdered: by a poisoned comb and by being strangled from a tight corset) and things it adds in (personalities for the dwarfs) usually work to the story's benefit. The other failed assassination attempts were going to be there, but were scrapped due to time and budget constraints. (It also makes Snow White look like less of an idiot if she only falls for one trap.)
Adaptation Dye-Job: Averted in the final film, since Snow White has hair "as black as ebony", as described by the Brothers Grimm (plus Brown Eyes). However, surviving pre-production drawings showed that Snow White was either going to be a blond or a redhead.
Beauty Equals Goodness: Technically played straight with Snow White, although Disney intentionally made her "cute" instead of ravishingly beautiful. Averted with the Queen, who is the second fairest in the land, and rotten to the core.
Cape Swish: The Queen manages a particularly impressive one when rushing down from the Mirror Room to her secret spell-chamber.
Circling Vultures: Two vultures follow the Queen in her Wicked Witch disguise, as she goes to the cottage to get Snow White, and their presence alerts the Woodland Creatures that there is something seriously wrong about the "peddler woman" with her basket of apples. In the end, the vultures were not after Snow White at all, but after the Queen, and as she falls to her doom, the vultures slowly circle down after her.
Climbing Climax: The dwarves and animals chase the transformed queen to the top of a cliff.
Cool Crown: The Queen wears a crown with spikes evoking the rays of the sun.
"Music In Your Soup" was to be sung by the dwarfs during dinner, and "You're Never Too Old to Be Young" was replaced by "The Silly Song". There were even more songs written for the film that never made it as far.
Sneezy originally had a verse during "The Silly Song". It was cut for time constraints.
Dark Is Not Evil: The Magic Mirror - he has a creepy face and a weird voice, but he's not evil and he's not a Queen's henchman, he just does his job answering questions. In other Disney material later on, it was shown that the mirror was now owned by Walt Disney, and only used for good purposes.
The Darkness Gazes Back: During the Snow White's run in the forest, the animal's eyes appear from the darkness. Because of Snow White's fear and confusion, they look inhuman and demonic.
Daylight Horror: The Queen, as an old hag, tricks Snow White to eat the poison apple during the day.
Dead Hand Shot: Complete with dropped apple. It's only "sleeping death".
Replaced a Family-Unfriendly Death in the source material. The death is in some ways more extreme than the pre-Disney versions — it follows the Rule of Three! But it is only implied, not shown. And since it was nature killing the Queen, none of the good guys had to — which makes it more family-friendly that way. Quite fitting, considering she's the first animated Disney villain.
Empathic Environment: As soon as the Queen leaves the cottage after poisoning Snow White, it's suddenly dark and stormy outside.
Epic Fail: The Queen's plan to kill Snow White and be the fairest one of all. Instead, she dies a horrible death as the ugliest person of all, and the "wishing apple" she gives Snow White really does end up granting Snow White's wish.
Even Evil Has Standards: While it's not clear exactly how "evil" the hunter is, it is implied that he has killed people for the Queen before, or at least done dirty deeds. Doesn't mean he has the stomach to brutally murder a young girl for no good reason.
Concept sketches of Snow White showed she was originally going to look much closer to Betty Boop. If you squint you can still see the resemblance. This was due to both of them being designed by the same person, Grim Natwick.
Max and Dave Fleischer actually had made a Snow White adaptation starring Betty Boop in 1933, but with the dwarfs downplayed for a shapeshifting Koko the Clown voiced by Cab Calloway.
Extreme Omnivore: Dopey manages to swallow both a bar of soap and a spoon (in a deleted scene) with one gulp each. Granted, both times were by accident, and eating this kind of stuff often gives him the hiccups.
Fourth Wall Psych: There are several moments in her evil monologue about her plan to poison Snow White where the Queen as a hag seems to be addressing the audience directly, but camera cuts show she's addressing her bird.
Funny Background Event: It's tricky to spot and certainly unintentional, but when Snow White enters the dwarfs' house for the first time (12 seconds into this video) her forest friends creep in with her. The animators apparently forgot which animals they were drawing, because one rabbit hops behind another and comes out a squirrel.
Gag Nose: Bashful, Grumpy and Sneezy, although Grumpy's nose is easily the largest out of all of them.
The animals know the Queen-hag is up to no good. Could it have been why the vultures were following her? Either that, or the vultures expect her to drop over dead at any moment because she looked so old and decrepit.
Grumpy is the only dwarf who acknowledges the danger of taking in Snow White, thus incurring the Queen's wrath if/when their help is discovered.
An interesting example with Dopey. During the washing scene, Dopey is trying to get a bar of soap, but he ends up swallowing it by mistake, which causes him to continuously hiccup out bubbles. What really makes it interesting is that during this scene, none of the dwarves come to help him, leaving Dopey to try and take care of it himself. Unsurprisingly, he fails, and his situation is left unresolved... until the next scene where he seems to have gotten rid of them offscreen.
His problem was resolved, but only in a deleted scene. The soup that was served to the dwarves for supper seemed to have gotten rid of Dopey's hiccups... but they return once he accidentally swallows his spoon, bubbles and all. It's in THIS scene where the dwarves try to help him out, and after many tries and fails, the dwarves finally manage to get both the spoon and the hiccup-inducing soap out of Dopey, getting rid of his bubbly hiccups in the process.
Hoist By Her Own Petard: Near the end the Evil Queen (in hag form) is trying to roll a boulder down on the dwarves to crush them. After lightning destroys the cliff under her she falls and the boulder rolls down and crushes her offscreen.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grumpy is initially opposed to having Snow White live with them, but he eventually warms up to her. When the dwarfs hear that Snow White is in trouble, Grumpy is the first to jump on a deer and yell "C'mon!" and leads the way. And at Snow White's funeral, notice that he is the one who puts flowers on top of Snow White's glass coffin.
Karmic Transformation: The Queen gives us a rare case of a voluntarily self-inflicted version of this. A woman obsessed with beauty turns herself hideous as a disguise, but she spends the rest of the movie (and is most often remembered) that way.
Kuudere: Grumpy comes off as this at first, taking some time to warm up to Snow White.
Large Ham: Averted with the Queen, who is usually very controlled with her mannerisms, even when angry. But when she becomes the Witch, she throws all calmness right out the window, and begins right on hamming it up.
Laser-Guided Karma: After spending the whole movie on an obsessive quest to become the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, the Queen ends up dying as an elderly deformed hag.
Misplaced Wildlife: While the story is supposed to be in medieval Europe, we see raccoons, California quails and turkey vultures.
Mood Whiplash: Any time the film changes from a scene with Snow White and the Dwarfs to a scene with the Queen or vice versa, especially the transition from the Queen's transformation scene to the musical number "The Silly Song".
Musical Chores: "Whistle While You Work", the first half of "Heigh Ho", and "Buddle-Uddle-Um-Dum".
The Huntsman is portrayed as being extremely loyal to the Queen. Nevertheless he cannot bear to kill Snow White and ultimately defies the Queen so she may live. Interestingly, development notes in Disney books claim the Huntsman was initially to be a villain that Snow White merely escapes from.
The extent of his loyalty isn't shown. He initially refuses to kill Snow White and only agrees when the Queen reminds him of the consequences if he doesn't (presumably death or torture). As far as we know he could be as much a slave of the Queen as Snow White is.
No Kill Like Overkill: The Queen falls off a cliff, is crushed by a boulder that rolls off after her, and what's left of her is presumably scavenged by vultures.
If you happen to meet them at a Disney Theme Park, you'll find that the Queen and the Prince simply autograph their names as "The Queen" and "The Prince". Though apparently she's named "Grimhilde" in Disney mythos.
Allegedly the Prince's name during pre-production was either Florian or Frederick.
Obviously Evil: The Queen in disguise isn't exactly the most subtle of all the beasts of the field.
Odd Name Out: Doc (whose name, unlike the others, isn't an adjective describing his personality). Then again, he does seem to be the brains of the group. In many translations his name is altered to some variation of "Wise".
Off Model: Just slightly. While the Queen is dramatically running down the stairs, her cape seems to have extended to be the size of a wall to wall carpet.
Offstage Villainy: It's implied the Queen committed other horrendous crimes before trying to kill Snow White - there are a lot of skeletons in her dungeon...
Ominous Opera Cape: The Queen. She's actually wearing two capes, in that her sleeves are one wide piece of fabric connected across her back, under her main cape.
Grumpy's response to Snow White suddenly becoming their disciplinarian is arguably the closest to reasonable.
Grumpy's displeasure of having her around also stems from the fact that she's essentially a fugitive and he correctly predicts that the Queen will be able to find her thanks to her use of black magic. His anger at her being a disciplinarian could very well be the fact that they're doing each other favors (the dwarfs house her and she cooks for them) yet Snow White still bosses them around.
Palette Swap: Both averted and played straight with the dwarfs. In the original story they were all essentially palette swaps of each other but Disney gave each of them a distinct personality and with that gave them all a unique face. But all seven wear the exact same clothes, just in different colors.
Dopey became The Speechless because a suitable voice actor couldn't be found.
For that matter, the Prince got much less screen time than initially planned because he was the hardest character to animate.
Remaster: In 1993, this became the first movie to undergo a digital restoration.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The dwarfs when they realize the Queen has (apparently) killed Snow White and furiously chase her down.
Rotoscoping: All the human characters are rotoscoped, aside from the Dwarfs (who arguably aren't truly "human"). The Queen's witch form notably avoids rotoscoping. There is one scene where Grim Natwick, one of Snow White's head animators, ditched the rotoscope and animated Snow White running down the stairs and checking the soup on his own. Walt himself praised that moment, and wished for all of Snow White's human animation to be that good (although no one bothered to tell him it wasn't rotoscoped).
Rule of Three: Used more than people realize. Usually found in visual gags, and in the music.
Satellite Love Interest: The Prince. One of the video releases said that the original intent was for the Prince to be captured by the Queen while looking for Snow White and have scenes involving his imprisonment and breakout. They were dropped in favour of the climax focusing on the dwarfs. Prince Phillip later gets to do all these things though.
Scenery Porn: Set a precedent for every animated Disney feature to come.
Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: Several over the decades, most elaborately a 1979 production at Radio City Music Hall in New York City complete with Adaptation Expansion (several new songs, Snow White's father being a supporting character, etc.). That version was filmed and was an early Disney VHS release under the title Snow White Live.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Let's see: First, the ledge the disguised Queen is standing on in the climax gets struck by lightning, which sends her falling to her death...and if that wasn't enough, the boulder she was trying to dislodge (to kill the dwarfs who were chasing her) falls right in the direction of where she was falling, just in case...oh, and the implications of her body being devoured by the vultures that were following her.
And yet, as the Witch, she does turn up in the Disney comics later; she must be made of pretty tough stuff.
Through His Stomach: Snow White's cooking is what really sells the dwarfs on letting her stay with them.
Totem Pole Trench: During the party that the dwarfs throw for Snow White, Dopey gets on Sneezy's shoulders and puts on a long blue coat so that the two of them can provide Snow White with a height-appropriate dance partner.
Villainous Breakdown: The Queen suffers this, but initially a rare cold-blooded one once she realizes Snow White is still alive. Then after she transforms herself into an old witch she definitely loses her temper and lets her emotions run the show.
In the scene where the dwarfs wash up for supper, Dopey accidentally swallows a bar of soap, causing him to hiccup bubbles. This was eventually resolved... in the deleted soup scene, in which he also swallows a spoon.
Also, whatever became of the huntsman who was supposed to kill Snow White?
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Possibly the Ur-Example for animated films. The "cute" forest animals' only purpose for most of the film is to make Snow White seem kind and pure. The "dark" animals, like the ravens and vultures, are reserved for the Queen.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: For the production team, they had a difficult time trying to do dramatic scenes with the characters because they were worried that audiences at the time would find the concept of one drawing trying to kill another drawing to be silly. Before this movie there was never really any attempt to make the audience really sympathize with a cartoon character.