In 1937, Walt Disney created his first animated masterpiece Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a film which marked the beginning of the Disney Animated Classics series, a collection of films which began with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and ended 51 years later with Oliver and Company.
When a young princess named Snow White is threatened by her jealous stepmother because her beauty surpasses the Queen’s, she flees into the forest and finds sanctuary with seven dwarfs. When Snow White is deceived by the malevolent queen and falls into a death-like repose, only true love can break the spell and bring an end to her eternal slumber.
Illusion is a powerful theme in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Many of the movies darker moments are creatively conveyed through the distorted perception of illusion, all of them tied in some way to the character of Snow White. When Snow White flees into the forest after the huntsman spares her life, the forest comes alive with frightening images. When Snow White falls to the ground weeping, the frightening images fade, and instead, the animals emerge from the forest to comfort her. When the Queen learns the truth of Snow White’s fate, she disguises herself as an old crone and tricks the young princess into eating a poisoned apple, casting her into an enchanted sleeping death. When Snow White is dead and the dwarfs are grieving over her, it appears like she’s truly gone until the prince’s kiss breaks the spell. It was merely an illusion of death.
The dwarfs play a significant role in the movie, particularly in the comic relief, as well as protectors and guardians of Snow White. While all of the dwarfs have distinct personalities, Grumpy is the dwarf who stands out as being particularly special. While Grumpy initially radiates an air of suspicion and negativity towards Snow White (and women in general), beneath his gruff exterior, he truly does care. He warns Snow White to be careful when they are leaving for work. When the dwarfs realize Snow White is in danger, it is Grumpy, not Doc, the unspoken leader of the dwarfs, who leads the others in a desperate effort to save her from the Queen. A powerful illustration of emotional communication is realized at the wake when the dwarfs are keeping vigil over Snow White. While most of the other dwarfs endure the burden of grief together, Grumpy stands apart from the others, his face hidden as he surrenders to heartbroken tears.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs stands out as a truly remarkable achievement. The film won an honorary Oscar in 1939, which was given to Walt Disney in recognition for Snow White’s significant screen innovation, which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field. In 1987, the film won a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has remained a timeless and beloved classic, not only because of the stunning and vibrant animation and memorable characters, but also because the essence of the film stems from emotion rather than logic – almost as if it is being conveyed through a child’s perspective. This is the very essence of a true fairy tale. I have possessed a deep love for Disney’s animated films ever since I was a child, but it was only after I watched Snow White as an adult that I could truly appreciate the emotional depth of the movie. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who loves Disney animation at its best.