Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs - Film (Movie) Plot and Review





USA, 1937


Supervising Director: David Hand

Production: Walt Disney Studios; Technicolor, 35mm, animation; running time: 83 minutes. Released 4 February 1938, but premiered in December 1937, released through RKO Radio Pictures Inc. Rereleased 1943, 1952, 1958, 1967, 1975, 1983. Filmed in Walt Disney Studios. Cost: $1,500,000.


Producer: Walt Disney; screenplay: Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Dick Richard, Merrill de Maris and Webb Smith, from the fairy tale "Snow White"

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
from Grimm's Fairy Tales ; sequence directors: Perce Pearce, Larry Morey, William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, and Ben Sharpsteen; art directors: Charles Phillippi, Hugh Gennesy, Terrell Stapp, McLaren Stewart, Harold Miles, Tom Codrick, Gustaf Tenggren, Kenneth Anderson, Kendall O'Connor, and Hazel Sewell; music: Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, Paul Smith, and Larry Morey; character designers: Albert Hunter and Jo Grant; supervising animators: Hamilton Luske, Vladamir Tytla, Fred Moore, and Norman Ferguson; animators: Frank Thomas, Dick Lundy, Arthur Babbitt, Eric Larson, Milton Kahl, Robert Stokes, James Algar, Al Eugster, Cy Young, Joshua Meador, Ugo D'Orsi, George Rowley, Les Clark, Fred Spencer, Bill Roberts, Bernard Garbutt, Grim Natwick, Jack Campbell, Marvin Woodward, James Culhane, Stan Quackenbush, Ward Kimball, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Robert Martsch; backgrounds: Samuel Armstrong, Mique Nelson, Merle Cox, Claude Coats, Phil Dike, Ray Lockrem, and Maurice Noble.


Cast: Voices: Adriana Caselotti ( Snow White ); Harry Stockwell (Prince Charming ); Lucille LaVerne ( The Queen ); Moroni Olsen ( Magic Mirror ); Billy Gilbert ( Sneezy ); Pinto Colvig ( Sleepy and Grumpy ); Otis Harlan ( Happy ); Scotty Mattraw ( Bashful ); Roy Atwell ( Doc ); Stuart Buchanan ( Humbert, the Queen's huntsman ); Marion Darlington ( Bird sounds and warbling ); The Fraunfelder Family ( Yodeling ).


Awards: Oscar, Special Award to Walt Disney, 1938; Venice Film Festival, Great Art Trophy, 1938; New York Film Critics Award, Special Award, 1938.

Publications


Books:

Field, Robert D., The Art of Walt Disney , New York, 1942.

Eisenstein, Sergei, Film Sense , edited by Jay Leyda, New York, 1942.

Miller, Diane Disney, The Story of Walt Disney , edited by Pete Martin, New York, 1957.

Stephenson, Ralph, Animation in the Cinema , New York, 1967.

Schickel, Richard, The Disney Version: The Life, Times, Art, and Commerce of Walt Disney , New York, 1968; revised edition, London, 1986.

Bessy, Maurice, Walt Disney , Paris, 1970.

Kurland, Gerald, Walt Disney, The Master of Animation , Charlottes-ville, Virginia, 1971.

Finch, Christopher, The Art of Walt Disney, from Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms , New York, 1973; revised edition, 1999.

Maltin, Leonard, The Disney Films , New York, 1973; revised edition, 1984; 2000.

Thomas, Bob, Walt Disney: An American Original , New York, 1976.

Edera, Bruno, Full Length Animated Features , edited by John Halas, New York, 1977.

Leebron, Elizabeth, and Lynn Gartley, Walt Disney: A Guide to References and Resources , Boston, 1979.

Peary, Gerald and Danny, editors, The American Animated Cartoon , New York, 1980.

Thomas, Frank, and Ollie Johnston, Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life , New York, 1982; revised edition, 1999.

Bruno, Eduardo, and Enrico Ghezzi, Walt Disney , Venice, 1985.

Mosley, Leonard, Disney's World: A Biography , New York, 1985; as The Real Walt Disney , London, 1986.

Culhane, Shamus, Talking Animals and Other People , New York, 1986.

Grant, John, Encyclopaedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters , New York, 1987; revised edition, 1998.

Holliss, Richard, and Brian Sibley, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Making of the Classic Film , London, 1987; revised edition 1994.

Krause, Martin F., and Linda Witkowski, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: An Art in Its Making Featuring the Collection of Stephen H. Ison , Indianapolis, Indiana, 1994.

Thomas, Bob, Building a Company: Roy O. Disney and the Creation of an Entertainment Empire , New York, 1998.

Smith, Dave, Disney A to Z: The Updated Official Encyclopedia , New York, 1999.

Solomon, Charles, The Art of Disney , New York, 2000.


Articles:

Ferguson, Otis, in Life (New York), 13 December 1937.

Variety (New York), 29 December 1937.

Boone, Andrew, in Popular Science Monthly (New York), January 1938.

New York Times , 14 January 1938.

Spectator (London), 4 March 1938.

Grauer, G. W., "The Snow White Debate Continues," in Christian Century (Chicago), August 1938.

La Farge, Christopher, "Walt Disney and the Art Form," in Theatre Arts (New York), September 1941.

MacGowan, Kenneth, in Hollywood Quarterly , no.1, 1945.

"A Wonderful World: Growing Impact of the Disney World," in Newsweek (New York), 18 April 1955.

Panofsky, Erwin, in Film: An Anthology , edited by Daniel Talbot, New York, 1959.

Sadoul, Georges, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), June 1962.

Brewer, Roy, "Walt Disney, R.I.P.," in National Review (New York), 10 January 1967.

Poncet, Marie-Therese, "Walt Disney de Mickey à Disneyland," in Anthologie du cinéma 2 , Paris, 1968.

Village Voice (New York), 2 August 1973.

Cassian, N., in Cinema (Bucharest), September 1973.

Sorel, S., in Téléciné (Paris), December 1973-January 1974.

Brody, M., "The Wonderful World of Disney: Its Psychological Appeal," in American Image (Detroit), no. 4, 1976.

Paul, William, "Art, Music, Nature, and Walt Disney," in Movie (London), Spring 1977.

Culhane, John, "The Last of the Old Nine Men," in American Film (Washington, DC), June 1977.

Canemaker, J., "Disney Animation: History and Technique," in Film News (New York), January-February 1979.

Canemaker, J., "Disney Design 1928–1979," in Millimeter (New York), February 1979.

Gomiscek, T., in Ekran (Ljubljana), nos. 5–6, 1979.

Kinney, Nancy S., in Magill's Survey of Cinema 4 , Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1980.

Hulsens, E., in Film en Televisie (Brussels), April 1984.

Reid's Film Index (Wyong), no. 3, 1989.

Hawkins, Harriet, "The Wonderful World of Carl Jung," in Modern Review , vol. 1, no. 3, Spring 1992.

Holusha, J., " Snow White Is Made Over Frame by Frame and Byte by Byte," in New York Times , vol. 142, D5, 30 June 1993.

Harmetz, Aljean, "Disney's 'Old Men' Savor the Vintage Years," in New York Times , 4 July 1993.

Kennedy, L., in Village Voice (New York), vol. 38, 13 July 1993.

" Snow White Is Fairest of All, Thanks to Digital Makeover," in Film Journal (New York), vol. 96, August 1993.

Fisher, Bob, "Off to Work We Go: The Digital Restoration of Snow White," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 74, no. 9, September 1993.

Care, R., "Record Track," in Scarlet Street (Glen Rock), no. 12, Fall 1993.

Care, Ross, and others, "Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs /Pinocchio ," in Cue Sheet (Hollywood), vol. 10, no. 1–2, Spring 1993–1994.

Felperin Sharman, Leslie, in Sight & Sound (London), vol. 4, no. 8, August 1994.

Catsos, G., "Disney's Folly!" in Filmfax (Evanston), no. 48, January/February 1995.

Nesbet, Anne, "Inanimations: Snow White and Ivan the Terrible ," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), vol. 50, no. 4, Summer 1997.

Wright, Terri Martin, "Romancing the Tale: Walt Disney's Adaptation of the Grimm's Snow White ," in Journal of Popular Film and Television (Washington, D.C.), vol. 25, no. 3, Fall 1997.


* * *


In his years as an animator, director, producer, and magnate, Walt Disney did more than any other individual to influence and shape the look of animated films. As a pioneer he was willing to take risks by experimenting with various technical inventions. In almost every case these experiments were successful. By searching for new and different ways to expand and advance the cartoon format, Walt Disney kept several steps ahead of his competitors. His animated films became the technological standard of the industry and no one came close to matching them.

Among Disney's most innovative films is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , one of the first feature-length animated cartoons. Part of his reason for venturing into the feature film market was economic. Although Disney's eight-minute cartoons were among the most popular of their day, these shorts had a limited earning potential. Cartoons were only a secondary attraction at the movie theaters and did not receive top billing or top dollar. With accelerating production costs, Disney realized that it would soon become more and more difficult to turn a profit. Looking ahead to the future, he saw feature film production as a way to keep his studio in the black.

The production of his first feature-length cartoon proved to be an enormous undertaking. Many of Disney's competitors felt that the task was impossible and news spread throughout the trade papers about "Disney's Folly." By his own admission Disney was not totally aware of all the complexities that would accompany his new project. He viewed the film as a learning experience and tackled each obstacle with undaunted perseverance.

Disney soon discovered that the scope of a feature-length cartoon dictated some technical changes from the shorter length format. For example, the field size (the size of the painted cels) would have to be enlarged to make room for more detail. This not only required the manufacture of larger cels, but also new drawing boards. In addition, the animation cameras had to be adjusted to photograph the larger field size.

Another innovation used was the multi-plane camera. Actually, Disney's multi-plane camera was first used to a small extent in a short cartoon called The Old Mill . The ability of this tool to enhance a feeling of depth proved more useful in Disney's features. With conventional flat animation cels it is difficult to simulate a dolly or a pan. For example, when a camera dollys in on a flat animation cel, all the objects in the scene appear to grow larger at the same rate, whereas in reality the foreground would grow much quicker while the background objects would stay relatively the same size. Since the multi-plane camera holds the foreground and background cels on different planes, it is possible to manipulate the images on each cel at different speeds. Disney's first multi-plane camera was fourteen feet tall with seven different levels, all of which could be controlled independently of each other.

With the expansion of the screen time for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , Disney also had to expand the number of employees in his company. Approximately 750 artists worked on the two million drawings that made up the film. These artists worked in an assembly-line fashion, each group responsible for a specific task. Some artists worked on the layout, others on background, some worked as inbetweeners for the chief animators, and other artists were inkers and painters. One group worked in special effects animation. In the past, cartoon animators had paid little attention to special effects. However, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs contains many examples of effects animation in the representation of lighting, smoke, rain, and other details.

Snow White was also different from other cartoons in that some of the characters were human. Most cartoons feature animals, and although they had anthropomorphic traits, they were all removed from the actual world. The characters of the Queen, Prince, Snow White, and the Huntsman presented a special problem in their "realism." To help keep the animation natural, live-action reference footage was shot of actors as a rotoscope (where the animation is traced directly off the live-action film), but mainly as a guide for the animators to follow.

After three years in the making, Snow White was finally ready for a Christmas release in 1937. The film was an instant success and received nothing less than glowing reviews. During its initial release the film grossed over $8 million and it continues to be a financial success with each subsequent re-issue. "Disney's Folly" proved to be the way of the future and feature-length animated films continue to be made today, long after the eight-minute theatrical cartoon format has died out. Once again, Walt Disney was proven to be a most important innovator and promoter of the art of animation.

—Linda J. Obalil



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