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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...
Disney Animated Canon 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.
As for the plot, we're not even going to bother summarizing it, since everybody knows about this film and its story by now.
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. VERY ironically, a Jewish artist and Holocaust survivor named Dina Gottliebova Babbitt painted Snow White fanart on the Auschwitz walls, which allowed her to strike a deal with Dr. Mengele that saved her and her mother's lives in exchange of painting portraits for him... and years later, she married Arthur "Art" Babbit aka one of the animators who worked in the Snow White movie.
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:
- Abusive Parents: Of the Resentful Guardian kind. The Queen and Wicked Stepmother forces Snow White, a sweet girl who hasn't done anything to offend or upset her (other than being pretty), to work as a maid in the royal castle where she should be living comfortably, as it's her birthright as the princess of the realm.
- 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 failed assassination attempts were originally going to be there, but were cut for time and animation limitations.
- 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), but surviving pre-production drawings show Snow with Blue Eyes and blonde hair or red hair. Seems the animators had trouble choosing one color from the typical hair color trifecta.
- In the Brothers Grimm version, it is only: "A child as white as snow, as red as blood and as black as ebony". While the most common interpretation is, that Snow White is supposed to have black hair, in earlier drawings, she is indeed often depicted having black eyes and blond hair.
- Adult Child: Dopey.
- All-Natural Gem Polish: The gems in the mine.
- All There in the Script: The Queen's real name, according to comic strips and old press material, is Queen Grimhilde. The Huntsman's name, Humbert, is also not given onscreen.
- Ambiguously Human: The Dwarfs.
- Anti-Sneeze Finger: The dwarfs do this to Sneezy.
- Art Shift: The book in the Book Ends is filmed in live-action.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Technically played straight with Snow White, although Disney intentionally made her "cute" instead of ravishingly beautiful.
- Big Bad: The Evil Queen.
- Book Ends: the movie opens with a shot of a book opening by itself to give out exposition and ends with the same book closing itself.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: When The Queen/Witch says that there may be an antidote to the Sleeping Death, it looks like she's talking to the audience.
- Buried Alive: The queen assumes the Dwarves will do this to Snow White, but it doesn't actually happen.
- By the Lights of Their Eyes: During Snow White's frightening run in the forest, a number of thousands evil glowing eyes seems to staring at her from the darkness.
- Call-and-Response Song: "I'm Wishing".
- Cape Swish: The Queen manages a particularly impressive one when rushing down from the Mirror Room to her secret spell-chamber.
- Cool Crown: The queen wears a crown with spikes evoking the rays of the sun.
- Cut Song: "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 seeming too off-color.
- Cute Mute: Dopey
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: After indulging in typical Nothing Can Stop Us Now Evil Gloating, the Queen suddenly stops mid-Evil Laugh to ponder, "But wait!" pause "There may be an antidote! Nothing must be overlooked!" Upon discovering its one remedy ("True Love's Kiss, ha! The Dwarfs will think she's DEAD! She'll be Buried Alive!"), she does shrug it off.
- 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. On the other hand, Valentino's prequel novel heavily implies that it was the Magic Mirror (more specifically, the occupant, the ghost of her deceased and very much abusive father) that acted as the reason why she even went nuts in the first place.
- Dead Hand Shot: Complete with dropped apple. It's only "sleeping death".
- Defrosting Ice King: Grumpy's Character Development. He finally completes it during the climax when he leads the dwarfs in a furious chase after the queen.
- Deranged Animation: The dark forest sequence.
- Discretion Shot: Snow White's death, the pig's heart, and the Wicked Witch getting pecked by vultures after falling off the cliff.
- Disney Death: In one of the earliest examples, Snow White herself!
- Disneyfication: The first example, and (as stated by Adaptation Distillation above) not nearly as much as would become expected later.
- Disney Princess: The Trope Maker.
- Disney Villain Death: Replaced the Family-Unfriendly Death of red-hot iron shoes.
- Did we mention she falls off a cliff which got struck by lightning, gets crushed under a boulder, and gets eaten by vultures? Let's face it, this is an instance where the original death is mild compared to the Disney version. However, we only see how the Queen falls of a cliff and the boulder falls down after her, and so we are spared the full mess. More to the point, since it was nature killing the Queen, none of the good guys had to -- which makes it more family-friendly that way.
- In what way is having your feet forced into red-hot metal shoes, all but burning them off, less friendly than a shot of the Queen falling off a cliff, and everything else implied rather than shown? True, the unseen can be worse than showing everything, but they definitely made the right call here.
- Some comics subvert this, where it is shown that she survived her fall. In addition, Valentino's novel implies that not only had the Queen not been killed, but her spirit was doomed to be sealed within the mirror.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Snow White's the fairest in the land, so The Queen tries to kill her.
- Don't Go in The Woods: Well, no, you can. Unless you usually jump at shadows or you're scared enough to imagine things as hideous monsters, giant bats, logs - alligators etc.
- Don't Touch It, You Fools!: It might be poison!! See?! It's witch's brew!
- Grumpy has this reaction to the bar of soap.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Queen.
- 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 its 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.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": See No Name Given, below.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: The dark forest sequence where seems like everything exepct the soul has comen to life to catch Snow White.
- Evil Tropes: So many for the Queen.
- Evil Eyebrows
- Evil Is Petty: She wants to brutally murder a young girl (her stepdaughter, no less) for the heinous crime of being prettier than her.
- Evil Laugh: Does several more than once in hag form.
- Faux Affably Evil: Again, in hag form.
- Evil Matriarch
- Evil Overlooker
- Evil Sorceress
- Excessive Evil Eyeshadow
- 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.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Everything except the very last scene takes place within two days.
- Failed Attempt At Drama: Grumpy storming out and walking straight into a door.
- Fan Art:
- The most notorious one is a couple of fan-drawings found in an old cellar in Norway, during German occupation in the late 30s... signed by the talented amateur artist "Adolf H."...
- As said aboce: Jewish-Czech artist and Holocaust survivor Annemarie Dina Gottliebova is said to have painted scenes of the movie in the barracks of Auschwitz, which saved her and her mother's life since it let her strike a deal with Mad Scientist Josef Mengele.
- Follow the Leader: What with being the highest grossing film of all time upon release, it was only natural that Paramount Pictures would give Fleischer Studios the chance to make their own answer to Snow White, that being their animated adaptation of Gulliver's Travels. Even Walter Lantz, Paul Terry and Harman and Ising had plans to make their own features after the success of Snow White (none of which materialized, unfortunately).
- Foreshadowing: This happens on a meta level when the dwarfs come home to an occupied house.
In unison: Jiminy Crickets!
- Four-Fingered Hands: The dwarfs.
- 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.
- Freudian Excuse: In Valentino's prequel novel "Fairest of All," it was explained that the reason for the Queen's obsessed desire for being the most beautiful of all was due to emotional abuse from her father, who refused to acknowledge her as beautiful at all prior to his death. In fact, when she married Snow White's father, the king, she actually did care for Snow White as if she were her own daughter. It wasn't until her father's witch cousins supplied her with the magic mirror (containing her father's spirit) as well as the King's death that she lost her sanity.
- Friend to All Living Things: Snow White.
- Full-Name Basis
- Gag Nose: Bashful, Grumpy and Sneezy, although Grumpy's nose is easily the largest out of all of them.
- Genre Savvy: The animals know the Queen-hag is up to no good. Could it have been the vultures following her? Either that, or the vultures expect her to drop over dead at any moment.
- 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.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: During the "Wash Up" song.
Bashful: Do you have to wash where it doesn't show?
- God Save Us From the Queen: Especially if they're all like this one...
- Grief Song: "Chorale For Snow White".
- Hallucinations: Snow White's run in the forest where she imagines it's inhabited by monstrous tree creatures.
- Happily Ever After
- Have a Gay Old Time: Doc tries to say, "who are you and what are you doing?" and comes up with "what are you and who are you doing?"
- Hellish Pupils: The Queen in her hag form has a pair of green ones. Also the scary trees who scares Snow White (in her imagination).
- He-Man Woman Hater: Grumpy starts out as a misogynist. By the end of the film, he's arguably the one who loves Snow White the most.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: Snow White has deer, rabbits, squirrels, and songbirds helping her work.
- High Collar of Doom: The Queen.
- Hollywood Kiss: Between Snow White and the Prince.
- Hot Witch: The Queen. Unfortunately for her after she drank the potion she has this look no more.
- Hypocritical Humor: "Now I will be the fairest one of all!"...after transforming herself into a hag.
- Indirect Kiss: Snow White kisses a dove, who then flies down to kiss the prince.
- Ink Suit Actor: Snow White has some resemblance with her voice actress Adriana Caselotti.
- Insubstantial Ingredients: The peddler disguise was comprised almost entirely of these.
- Irony: The apple, in a way, DID made Snow White's wish come true.
- "I Want" Song: "I'm Wishing" and "Someday My Prince Will Come".
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grumpy is initially opposed to having Snow White live with them, but he eventually warms up to her.
- Karmic Death: The Queen.
- 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.
- Knight in Shining Armour: By the end of the movie The Prince has arrived to take Snow White away on his white horse.
- 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.
- Leitmotif: Dopey is accompanied by an odd little theme most of the time (it can be heard most easily in the soap scene).
- The Lost Woods: Snow White's imagination during her flee in the forest makes it look like it.
- Love At First Note
- Mad Scientist Laboratory: The Queen's laboratory in the dungeon.
- Make a Wish: Snow White starts out singing in a wishing well, hoping for a prince to come.
- Manly Tears: Grumpy when Snow White (apparently) dies.
- Meaningful Names: The dwarfs' names.
- Minion with an F In Evil: The Huntsman.
- 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".
- Natural Spotlight: Snow White in her glass coffin.
- Nightmare Face: The close up of the Queen the first time she reveals her old witch face (a perfect disguise). Also the gnarled faces on the trees Snow White imagines during the dark forest sequence.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: The Queen.
- Noble Demon: 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 Complete Monster that Snow White merely escapes from.
- The extend of his loyalty isn't shown. His 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 Name Given: If you happen to meet them at a Disney Theme Parks, you'll find that the Queen and the Prince simply autograph their names as "The Queen" and "The Prince".
- No Song for the Wicked
- 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 others 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.
- Only Sane Man: 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 shes 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.
- Opening Chorus
- 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.
- Painful Transformation: The queen turning into the old woman is not shown as pleasant to her.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Both Snow White and the Queen have their own.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Dropping the too-tight laces and poisoned comb murder attempts was done because Walt knew they would kill the momentum of the story. Indeed, while there is a good amount of Disneyfication in this film, the changes are arguably beneficial in terms of pacing and interest.
- Princess Classic
- Punch Clock Villain: The Huntsman and probably the Magic Mirror as well.
- Purple Is Powerful: The Queen's dress, although it's overshadowed by all the black.
- Rags to Royalty: Trope Maker and Trope Namer of the Type 2.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Snow White. "Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow."
- Real Life Writes the Plot: 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.
- 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.
- The Runt At the End: Dopey.
- Also the turtle. Turtles are slow, naturally.
- 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.
- Shallow 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.
- Sidekick Song: "The Silly Song".
- Sleepyhead: Sleepy.
- Sneeze of Doom: Courtesy of Sneezy. Subverted when Snow White first meets the dwarfs.
- The Speechless: Dopey.
- Spell My Name with an "S": It's "dwarfs" not "dwarves". Tolkien's spelling change hadn't quite kicked in by then.
- Storybook Opening: The Trope Makers.
- Team Mom: Snow White to the dwarfs; scarcely have they agreed to let her stay than she starts taking charge of the place.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Something Song: "The Silly Song".
- True-Blue Femininity: Snow White's grand dress has a blue bodice and sleeves.
- True Love's Kiss: Replaces the jolting of the coffin to wake Snow White up.
- Tsundere: Grumpy, whose demeanor toward Snow White (after he starts to warm up to her) is encompassed by the phrase "I'm not doing this because I like you."
- Villainous Breakdown: The Queen suffers this, but initially a rare cold - blooded one once she realizes Snow White is still alive. Then after she tranforms herself int an old witch she definitely loses all her temper and lets her emotions get hold.
- Villain Opening Scene
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- 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?
- For that matter, what happens to the kingdom after the Queen's death? Snow White is supposedly dead, so she can't ascend to the throne. So who's in charge then? Does Snow White claim her throne after she's awoken? Does her kingdom and the Prince's kingdom get united when they marry?
- What DID happen to the queen's magic mirror, anyway?
- Solved in Kingdom Heart Birth By Sleep, when the queen died, the magic mirror is freed.
- 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.
- When Trees Attack: Subverted, since it's just Snow White's imagination.
- Wicked Witch: Take a guess...
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Queen/Queen Grimhilde/The Witch is perhaps one of the darkest interpretations of the trope: Evidence from the book "Fairest of All" suggests that it isn't so much that she's murderously jealous of her stepdaughter being more beautiful than her as it is that she is simply incapable of letting herself not be the fairest of all, her mind and integrity just being too far gone thanks to years of emotional abuse from her own father for apparently not being beautiful in her father's standards, and having said traumatic memories being forcibly reintroduced into her life by her father's witch cousins fusing his spirit into a magic mirror, and this combined with the death of her husband led her to believe that the only way she could ever amount to anything in terms of beauty is to kill Snow White.
- Younger Than She Looks: Walt Disney was aiming to make her look to be around 14 years old, though she still seems a tad older than that.