Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Blu-ray (1939/2009)

by | Oct 10, 2009 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Blu-ray (1939/2009)

Diamond Edition 3-Disc Combo Pack with standard DVD and bonus Blu-ray
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment 102492 [Release date: 10/6/09]
Video: Original 4:3 or 16:9 with DisneyView (side fill-ins) color 1080p HD
Audio: English Enhanced Hi-Def Sound DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48K/24), French or Spanish 5.1 restored theatrical soundtrack, English/French/Spanish 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Extras: Enhanced digital restoration of feature, Audio commentary track by John Canemaker, New music video of Someday My Prince Will Come, Sneak peak at The Princess and the Frog, DisneyView; Family Play section: What Do You See:, Mirror, Mirror On the Wall, Jewel Jumble; Backstage Disney section: Snow White Returns – sketches for sequel, Walt’s original studio – Hyperion, “The One That Started It All” – how SWAT7D changed the movie world, Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride game, “Heigh-Ho” Karaoke sing-along, “Disney Thru the Decades,” too many previews & more

Length: 84 minutes
Rating: *****

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first feature-length animated movie ever produced, and marked a tremendous advance in design and appearance over the black-and-white, jumpy, almost stick figures of the earlier Disney cartoons, such as the first sound cartoon: Steamboat Willie. It was also the first film in which the music on the soundtrack advanced the story. During its production critics questioned whether audiences would be willing to sit thru a feature-length animated movie, yet it won a 1939 honorary Academy Award, has been released theatrically nine times, and was one of the first films designated for preservation by the Library of Congress. It has been unavailable in any form since 2001.

Do we need a synopsis? I think the story of the adapted Grimm’s fairytale is pretty well known. Some of the most famous scenes in the history of motion pictures take place between Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs when the cute animals of the forest take her to the little fellows’ abode as she is escaping from the clutches of her grim stepmother Queen. Part of the extras goes into Walt Disney’s connections with vaudeville performers; one was a guy whose main shtick was dramatic sneezes. He became the voice of Sneezy. There are also stills and footage of Disney’s original Hyperion studio, where things were cramped and animators spent much time interacting with one another and working out creative bits. The photos and memories show that lots of laughs were a given in that environment – which was lost when Disney made enough money on Snow White to set up huge new spacious but isolating studios in Burbank.

The hand-drawn animation is gorgeous and has a unique feeling that even the best of today’s computer animation seldom achieves. The Queen is suitably villainous, and the animals are all terminally cute, as are all the dwarfs. (I thought it was dwarves…) The music stands up well and doesn’t seem that dated-sounding; it really does advance the story. The high-pitched 1920’s Betty Boop aspect of Snow White’s voice doesn’t hurt her a bit. The DisneyView water-color borders at the sides seem to fit better than they did for the reissue of Pinocchio and are very nice for 16:9 screen owners; there’s even an extra featuring the artist who drew them.  It’s amazing how well the film stands up today – over 70 years later! The short cartoons of that vintage all look extremely dated today. Along with Pinocchio, Snow White is truly the “Fairest One of All” as far as feature-length animated family films go.  

Before leaving this on a Disney/Pollyanna Happy note, we have a short report from Grumpy:  No other studio forces viewers to sit thru as many previews of coming attractions as Disney.  It was bad enough before, but now with the 50GB capacity of Blu-rays, it’s even worse.  Sometimes one can advance thru them using the chapter button, but often not – you are forced to slog thru them to get to the feature you paid for. And BD-Live?  It thoughtfully gives you Even More previews if the disc doesn’t hold enough of ‘em. Grump. Also, the navigation of many discs (not just Disney’s) is often maddening.  On Snow White I selected various options on the bonus Blu-ray disc, over and over, and every time the very tiring voice and image of the Magic Mirror kept telling me I had to eject  the disc and insert Disc 1 instead. Was beginning to think the only purpose of Disc 2 was to send you back to Disc 1!  Then I accidentally discovered that on the first screen of Disc 1 there is another disguised option to click on which brings up the three or four extras on that disc.  The mirror’s voice constantly berates you for taking too long to click on options; you just want him to go away. Grump.

– John Sunier

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