Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
- This article is about Walt Disney's 1937 film. For the Brothers Grimm fairy tale it is based upon, see Snow-White.
|Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs|
|Directed by|| William Cottrell|
|Written by|| Dorothy Ann Blank|
Merrill De Maris
Based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm
|Produced by||Walt Disney|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Release date||February 8, 1938|
|Budget||$1,488,000 USD (est.)|
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first animated feature in the Disney animated features canon. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions, premiered on December 21, 1937, and was originally released to theatres by RKO Radio Pictures on February 8 1938. Based upon the fairy tale Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, the film's plot has a jealous queen attempt to have her stepdaughter murdered, but the girl escapes and is given shelter by seven dwarves who live deep in a forest. Snow White was the first major animated feature made in the United States, the most successful motion picture released in 1938, and, adjusted for inflation, is the tenth highest-grossing film of all time.
Table of contents
The movie was adapted by Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Merrill De Maris, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dick Rickard, Ted Sears and Webb Smith from the fairy tale Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. The film was supervised by David Hand, and directed by William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, and Ben Sharpsteen.
Walt Disney had to fight to get the film produced. Both his brother Roy Disney and his wife Lillian attempted to talk him out of it, and the Hollywood movie industry mockingly referred to the film as "Disney's Folly" while it was in production. He even had to mortgage his house to help finance the film's production, which eventually ran up a total negative cost of just over $1.5 million, a whopping sum for a feature film in 1937.
Snow White, which spent three years in production, was the end result of Walt Disney's plan to improve the production quality of his studio's output, and also to find a source of income other than short subjects. Many animation techniques which later became standards were developed or improved for the film, including the animation of realistic humans (with and without the help of the rotoscope), effective character animation (taking characters that look similar--the dwarfs, in this case--and making them distinct characters through their body acting and movement), elaborate effects animation to depict rain, lightning, water, reflections, sparkles, magic, and other objects and phenomena, and the use of the multiplane camera. Snow White is also looked upon as a triumph of storytelling skill in animation.
Critical and commercial success
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater on December 21, 1937 to a widely receptive audience (many of whom were the same naysayers who dubbed the film "Disney's Folly"), who gave the film a standing ovation at its completion. RKO Radio Pictures put the film into general release on February 4 1938, and it went on to become a major box-office success, making more money than any other motion picture in 1938. In fact, for a short time, Snow White was the highest grossing film in American cinema history; it was removed from that spot by Gone With the Wind in 1940.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first full-length animated feature made in English and Technicolor, and won an honorary Academy Award for Walt Disney "as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field." Disney received a full-size Oscar statuette and seven miniature ones, presented to him by Shirley Temple.
The movie was also nominated for Best Music, Score. Well-known songs from the film include: "Heigh-Ho", "Some Day My Prince Will Come", and "Whistle While You Work".
- The names of the dwarves (Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy and Sneezy) were created for this production, chosen from a pool of about fifty potentials.
- The movie's title uses the word "dwarfs" which was the traditional plural of "dwarf". The Lord of the Rings by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, published in three volumes from 29 July, 1954 to 20 October, 1955, instead popularised the spelling "dwarves". Both plural forms have been used interchangeably since then.
- There is an easy way to remember the names of the dwarves. There are three emotions (Happy, Grumpy, Bashful), two D's (Dopey, Doc), and two S's (Sleepy, Sneezy).
- A version with live actors based on the film, titled Snow White: The Fairest of Them All and starring Kristin Kreuk, was made in 2002.
- Upon seeing the film, Russian director Sergei Eisenstein called it the greatest ever made.
- The song, "Someday My Prince Will Come" has become a jazz standard that has been performed by numerous artists, including Buddy Rich, Oscar Peterson, and Miles Davis.
- There are numerous popular ideas as to the presence of occult significance or symbolism within the movie, mostly centered around the Dwarves themselves. For example, one theory holds that the seven dwarves correspond to the seven chakras (or cakras), and that Snow White represents consciousness moving through them. Other ideas are less philosophically complex, such as correspondences to the altered states of consciousness inherent in the use of certain drugs.
- Adriana Caselotti (Snow White)
- Harry Stockwell (Prince)
- Lucille La Verne, (The Queen/Witch)
- Moroni Olsen, (Magic Mirror)
- Billy Gilbert (Sneezy)
- Pinto Colvig (Sleepy/Grumpy)
- Otis Harlan (Happy)
- Scotty Mattraw (Bashful)
- Roy Atwell (Doc)
- Stuart Buchanan (Humbert, The Queen's Huntsman)