"Snow White" is a mesmerizing piece of animation and easily one of the finest films ever made.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, Blu-ray)
Directors: David Hand
Producers: Walt Disney
Writers: Wilhelm Grimm (fairy tales) (as Grimm) & Jacob Grimm (fairy tales) (as Grimm) Ted Sears (story adaptation) & Richard Creedon (story adaptation) & Otto Englander (story adaptation) & Dick Rickard (story adaptation) & Earl Hurd (story
Features: * Commentary * Featurettes * Music Video * Deleted Scenes * Documentaries * Short Films * Stills * Storyboards * DisneyView * BD-Live * Previous DVD Extras
Roy Atwell ... Doc (voice)
Stuart Buchanan ... Huntsman (voice)
Adriana Caselotti ... Snow White (voice)
Eddie Collins ... Dopey (voice)
Pinto Colvig ... Sleepy / Grumpy (voice)
Marion Darlington ... Bird Sounds and Warbling (voice)
Billy Gilbert ... Sneezy (voice)
Otis Harlan ... Happy (voice)
Lucille La Verne ... Queen / Witch (voice) (uncredited)
James MacDonald ... Yodeling Man (voice)
Scotty Mattraw ... Bashful (voice)
Moroni Olsen ... Magic Mirror (voice)
Harry Stockwell ... Prince (voice)
Available on BD and DVD October 6, 2009.
If ever there was a defining moment in cinema, it was the release of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The film was predicted to be a failure, but those who sloughed off the release stood in amazement at the wonders of a feature-length animated epic. They owed Walt Disney a sincere apology.
Just as "The Wizard of Oz" did two years later, "Snow White" was a beacon of artistic endeavor that’s impact has shaken the world of animation (and the film industry in general) ever since. Hundreds, if not thousands, of animators (and Gremlins) have been inspired by it’s majesty, and because of this, "Snow White" is a true classic, not just because it’s the first feature-length animated film ever made, but because it still ranks among the best.
Based upon the equally classic Brothers Grimm tale, "Snow White" follows a young princess who’s long been tormented by her evil stepmother, The Queen. When the Queen’s magic mirror reveals Snow White to be the "fairest of them all," the Queen hires a hunter to kill the young princess and return her heart back to the Queen. The hunter agrees, but after seeing Snow White, he simply cannot commit the deed.
Instead, he urges her to leave and he returns to the Queen with a pig’s heart. Wandering in the frightening wilderness, Snow White stumbles upon a cottage where seven dwarfs are living. They take her in and she quickly becomes acclimated to their delightful way of living. But when the viscous Queen discovers that Snow White is still alive, she unleashes a deadly plot that will do away with the young princess once and for all.
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" moves along rather quickly, never failing to excite. The story is full of fun twists and turns that young audiences will most certainly adore. The film is a bit grim in spots, but it’s a necessary element. The animation, while certainly dated at times, is still surprisingly inventive -- particularly during one of the songs where Snow White sings into a well and the water ripples. It almost looks like CG or real water rippling.
The songs are wholly memorable, particularly the Dwarf chant titled, "Heigh-Ho." And the characters are the work of genuine genius. Snow White is cliché by today’s standards, but she serves as the defining cinematic good-hearted princess. The dwarfs are hilarious and lovable, most notably Dopey (a longtime fan favorite). The Queen is frightening in every single one of her all-too-brief scenes. Even the magic mirror is great. The only stock character here is the prince, but he’s not in the film for very long.
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is a picture worth reliving over and over again. It’s quite easy to see why this film became the standard by which all 2-D animation is judged. The film’s inventiveness, not just in animation, makes it’s a wonderful piece of history and one of the finest films ever made.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: A+
Film Value: A+
"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is presented in full frame 1.33:1, matted onto a 1.78 frame, using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a dual-layered BD50 disc. The feature consumes 18.3 gigs of disc space. I’ve owned many of the previous versions of "Snow White" on home video (VHS and DVD) and while each has been impressive in their own respective eras, this is far and beyond the finest the film has ever looked.
Painstakingly restored, this print is free of dust and dirt. Colors look more vibrant and free-flowing than ever before. Sharp images and striking details pop off the screen. Virtually no digital flaws were noted at all. This is an extraordinary release full of vibrancy and zest that’s bound to please most, if not all, fans of this wonderful animated classic.
Audio choices are English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with French and Spanish 5.1 and the Restored Original Theatrical Soundtrack. French and Spanish subtitles and English captions for the hearing impaired are also included.
The 7.1 mix here is rather engaged, giving much depth to the film, expanding on the original mono sound field in ways that genuinely surprised me. Dialogue, which sounds a little tinny (it’s an unavoidable flaw of the era) is mostly locked into the center channel, but distinct surround elements and score pop up all throughout the picture breathing life into the mix. Never once did added sound effects feel inorganically mixed or tweaked. This is a naturalistic redesign that deserves much credit. Also, as a nice added bonus, Disney provides the film’s restored original mix for hardcore purists, and for comparison purposes.
Extras and Packaging:
The screener copy of this release that DVDFuture received was of the DVD "Diamond Edition" of the film, which also includes the two-disc Blu-ray special edition. It’s packed in a black amaray three-disc case complete with a cardboard slipcover.
Extras here are truly extraordinary, with hours of bonus material (and BD-exclusive content) for fans to peruse. This, folks, is the definitive version of this film on home video!
Goodies here are the same on both the DVD and disc one of the Blu-ray set:
• Commentary -- Film historian John Canemaker takes on us an elaborate journey through the making of the film as well as the picture’s impact on animation and the film industry as a whole. A terrific listen.
• Snow White Returns (9 minutes, HD -- in Backstage Disney) -- An interesting feature that allows viewers to watch a storyboard sequence from the unproduced "Snow White" sequel. Shame this never got made.
• Deleted Scenes (11 minutes, HD -- in Backstage Disney) -- Two fairly nonchalant deleted scenes are worth a look, but neither is very jaw-dropping.
• Music Video (4 minutes, HD -- in Music and More) -- "Some Day My Prince Will Come" as sung by songwriter Tiffany Thornton of Sonny with a Chance.
• The Princess and the Frog Sneak Peek (7 minutes, HD) -- An interesting sneak peak at Disney’s latest 2-D animated hit.
Disney has truly embraced the power of Blu-ray with this title. This two-disc Blu-ray set is remarkable. Extras include:
• Disney Smart Navigation Menu -- On both discs, Disney has added an innovate new menu system that remembers what you’ve watched and suggests different paths for you to enjoy -- all done using the Magic Mirror seen in the film. It’s like Tivo, but for a Blu-ray disc. An interesting, subtle touch, though the mirror gets a little annoying if you hold on his for too long.
• BD-Live -- Disney’s standard set of web-based extras are included as well as few goodies pertaining to this specific release.
• DisneyView (HD) -- Basically, this allows you watch the 1.33:1 theatrical cut with artistry from Toby Bluth filling in the black sidebars. A clever idea, but nothing too special.
• Family Play (HD) -- Four games for the kids, powered by BD-Live, include a trivia game called "Mirror, mirror on the Wall," "What Do You See," a scrambled image game, "Jewel Jumbler," a jewel matching game and "Scene Stealer," which allows you to add you family members into several sequences of the film.
• Hyperion Studios (HD) -- This impressive collection of bonus features creates a wonderful look at the birth of Disney feature-length animation at Hyperion Studios. Here, fans can explore the entire Hyperion compound, and be treated to numerous featurettes, shorts (including "Steamboat Willie," deleted scenes, stills, storyboards and lots more -- many hosted by today’s leading artists and filmmakers.
This is easily one of the most unique ways to explore the making of a film and the effort put forth is truly remarkable. That said, I’m still more of a fan of just watching a long, explorative documentary, and many of these features could have easily been incorporated into an additional PiP track.
This extra is broken down into smaller sections. They include: "Hyperion Exterior," "Story Room," "Music Room," "Art Department," "Character Design," "Background and Layout," "Animation Department," "Live Action Reference," "Sweatbox," "Ink and Paint," "Camera Department," "Sound Stage" and "Walt’s Office."
• The One That Started in All (17 minutes, HD) -- A fascinating retrospective look at the film and the birth of Disney as we know it today.
• Classic Bonus Features (SD) -- Four of the classic DVD bonus features have been ported over (some other extras show up throughout the two-disc set). They include: "Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride," an interactive game, "Heigh-Ho," Karaoke Sing Along, "Animation Voice Talent" (6 minutes), which features an interview with Snow White herself, Adriana Caselotti, and "Disney Through the Decades" (36 minutes), an engaging look at Disney’s evolution through the years, "
"Snow White" is a mesmerizing piece of animation and easily one of the finest films ever made. And now, on Blu-ray, the film is better than ever. The A/V presentation is nearly flawless and the extras should more than please fans of all ages. Even if you already own this classic on DVD, you should definitely consider the upgrade.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: A
Recommendation: A must-own title!
Here's a featurette from the Diamond Edition disc!
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----R. L. Shaffer