Sunday, May 26, 2013

With a smile and a song

This week, I started on a new project: I'm going to watch all of the animated Disney features in chronological order! This isn't a new or original idea in any way, but it'll be the first time I've ever done - if I'm able to get through the list! Right now, I'm a little stuck on Pinocchio. No one seems to have it. Anyway, this week, I watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) for the first time in a long time.

I always find it irritating when people glaze over Snow White because they "can't stand the voice" or they think "all she wants is to get married." Stuff and nonsense. Snow White is super adorable with tons of personality. I realized this when I revisited the movie a few years ago and rediscovered it all over again this week. Within the first few seconds of meeting Snow White, she has a cool personality: she's hard at work in her own castle, looks up to see all of the work she has left to do, heaves a sigh, and then hums as she continues with her work. She's so cool! There's no defeatist attitude, no anger, no "I'm such a victim." She's good-natured and positive, even in the face of a really bad situation. And that's only the first few seconds!

Something I began to think about this time around - it's something that I've wondered for a while now - is how long she's known the prince. The audience never actually gets that information. We automatically assume that they meet for the first time at the well, but that doesn't have to be the case. I mean, why is the prince wandering alongside a castle wall, so far from his own kingdom? Could it be he's coming to visit her? She gets startled and runs away - it could be because a strange man popped up beside her, but couldn't it also be that the handsome prince she likes has caught her in the act of singing about him and now he's seeing her in rags? The lyric of the song is, "I'm wishing for the one I love to find me today." The whole "one I love" thing could be a thinking-about-the-future type description, but I think it could just as easily be that they've already fallen in love and now she's hoping he'll come looking for her

My sister one time told me that Snow White has the deepest connection to nature, out of all the Disney princesses. Rewatching the movie, I can see that this is definitely the case. She finds herself in the middle of a strange forest with animals she doesn't know and they immediately feel comfortable with her. Also, there's a part in "With a Smile and a Song" where a little chipmunk scurries up to her, she reaches out to pet it, and it runs away. I watched the chipmunk for the rest of the scene and when it comes back up to her, she doesn't reach out to pet it anymore and it runs all over her lap and sits on her legs. I think it's so cool that she respects him and he, in turn, trusts her! It's such a great detail!

I guess I won't break down the whole movie into pieces about what I loved. But, it really was fun to revisit and rediscover this classic. It's pretty incredible to watch it and imagine people seeing it for the first time, having nothing else to compare it to. I watched the movie a second time and added the commentary and learned some fascinating bits of trivia along the way. The most pressing thing I learned was what an undertaking the film was for Walt Disney and his studio. But, even the little things like the fact that Deanna Durbin was turned down for the role of Snow White, that Marge Belcher (later Marge Champion) was the live model for Snow White, and that the gross of the film's profits included a great deal of children's fares, which means the movie could easily have been seen more than the other top films of the year (Walt particularly cited Gone with the Wind) were the details that stuck out the most.

Have you revisited this movie recently? What were your discoveries?

1 comment:

  1. 'Snow White' has been my favorite Disney movie since childhood. It was the first movie I remember going to see in the theatre, when I was three years old. This would have been in about 1984. I went to one of those old Marquee theatres with the red curtains and velvet seats and it was truly magical. I am so glad I got to see Snow White in a theatre like that.


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