Saturday, December 12, 2015

AFI Top 100, #49: "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937)

Movie Stats:
Released 1937 (USA)
American, in English
Directors - William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen
Stars - Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne

Plot Summary:
Snow White (Caselotti), a beautiful young princess relentlessly pursued by her jealous, evil stepmother, the Queen (La Verne), who wants to kill her, finds refuge with a group of dwarves.


Bad Stuff:
I hated Caselotti’s voice, especially her singing voice. Have you ever seen the Lemmiwinks episode of South Park? Her singing voice sounded like a song from it. If you’re familiar with that episode, you’ll know why singing like that has been ruined for me forever.

It’s so ridiculously over-the-top saccharine sweet. Seriously gag-inducing.

I’m really annoyed that these grown-ass men (the dwarves) couldn’t take care of themselves - wouldn’t even wash their own freaking hands - without a woman to watch over them. Like they needed a mommy. I can’t decide if that’s more offensive to women (Women must be nurturers! It’s their role in life!), men (Men are helpless babies without a mommy figure around!), or little people (Little people aren’t grown adults, they’re basically children!). Maybe it’s just offensive in general.

Good Stuff:
By today’s standards, the animation isn’t particularly sophisticated, but some effects were incredibly well done. Some standouts: the water in the wishing well, the scene where innocuous things turned into frightening things in the forest, and the jewels at the mine.

I liked the soundtrack.

I enjoyed how deliciously, unrepentantly evil the queen was.

The Verdict:
Okay, so here’s the thing. While I’m familiar with the story, I never saw this movie when I was a kid. In fact, this was my first viewing. And I have to say, I pretty much hated it. It was boring and sickeningly sweet and stupid. (I have so many questions. Where was Snow White’s dad in all of this? I don’t remember it saying he was dead. Who do the dwarves work for? If themselves, why don’t they have a bigger/better house, seeing as how they have millions of jewels at their disposal? Where did the prince go? If he was so in love with Snow White - after seeing her once without having a conversation with her - why didn’t he go looking for her after she disappeared? WHY ARE THEY GETTING MARRIED WHEN THEY'VE ONLY MET TWICE?) I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

However, I realize that I’m seeing it through modern, adult eyes. Most people watch this as children. They don’t see its flaws, and I can say with honesty that I understand why young children would find it funny. This is a kids’ movie through and through. I’ve hardly seen any of the early Disney films, but it seems to me like they were definitely more kid-oriented, whereas the modern ones have stuff in there for adults to enjoy as well.

Part of me says, “Write a scathing review and give it a bad rating.” The other part says, “Lighten up, it’s a kids’ movie, and a very old one at that, their social mores were different back then.” It’s been difficult for me to decide which part to listen to. So I think I’m going to split the difference: negative review with a decent rating, because I think that most people have warm, fuzzy feelings for it because it’s a piece of their childhood.

I give it 3 stars.


Patricia said...

The first time I heard Snow White sing, I actually recoiled from the record player. What in the hell was that?

I got to watch a lot of Disney films on film in the home of our family friends. The dad was a principal and he would get Disney movies as rewards for the students of his school and then we would get to come over and watch them before they had to be sent back. Before VHS/DVDs, you had to wait for the movie to be re-released to the theater, so I always felt pretty lucky.

And that paragraph makes me sound 100 years old. Geez.

Maybe you should watch Snow White and the Huntsman to cleanse your palette. :-)

balyien said...

That film (Huntsman) gets maligned a lot online. I've never really understood why. I thought it was decent. Everyone seems to hate Stewart a lot, but I've seen her in at least one thing where I thought she did a good job. I can't remember the name of it now. Some indie movie.

I think it's really cool that you got to have special screenings of Disney movies!