Someday, the Special Effects Will Come
Updated: Jan 19, 2022
Rewatching the animated classic Snow White
As a Disney adult, I’m constantly asked what my favorite Disney movie is and it’s never in the context of ‘90s movies or other films from my childhood. They always want to know what classic film is my fave. I stumble and say I haven’t seen most of them and then battle a serious case of imposter syndrome. So for this series, we’ve decided to go back and watch every single Disney movie, starting with the first: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
We all know the story of Walt Disney wanting to make the very first animated feature film, and how everyone laughed at the idea. Who would sit in a theater for an hour to watch a cartoon? Certainly this would be “Walt’s Folly.”
Walt believed in the project, so he ignored the haters and even refinanced his home to foot the $1.5 million dollar production bill (and that was in the 1930s.) And it’s a good thing he did; the film became the highest grossing film of all time within a year, and awarded Walt a special Academy Award along with seven smaller accolades.
The story begins with credits, and a quote from Walt thanking his team for making his vision a reality. A storybook opens to preface the story, and then the camera zooms in on the scene of the castle. The Evil Queen walks up to the Magic Mirror and asks the infamous question: “who is the fairest one of all?” To her disbelief, it’s not her, so she orders a Huntsman to lure Snow White (who is actually the fairest one of all) to a field of wildflowers and kill her.
We then turn to young Snow White who sings “I’m Wishing” (it’s still stuck in my head) while leaning over a wishing well. Then, Florian, aka Prince Charming, joins in and she runs back into the castle. She timidly peaks out over her balcony to continue singing with him, and it’s there she falls in love. It’s the world’s first animated meet cute, and I’m all for it.
Later, when Snow is distracted by a sad bird, the huntsman lifts his dagger to stab her, but can’t commit. He explains that the Queen wants her dead and she needs to run away and never return. In a sequence I remember from childhood, Snow runs through the haunted woods as trees turn into “monsters” that wrap their branches around her. Eventually, she screams and wraps herself in a fetal position succumbing to her fears.
When she wakes up, she is surrounded by forest animals. They take her to a cottage that Snow calls as adorable as a “dollhouse.” Rather than taking a nap to avoid her problems, she gets right to cleaning and I have mad respect. At the same time, the iconic seven dwarfs hei ho back home from the diamond mines. Initially they’re scared of Snow, but she wins them over with her kindness and gooseberry pie. They have dinner and dance and all is well.
Meanwhile, the Evil Queen is basking in her perceived awesomeness, when the Mirror informs her that Snow White is still alive. Like Thanos, she realizes she needs to do the killing herself. In a trippy transformation scene she becomes an old hag determined to kill Snow White with a poison apple. Arriving at the cottage, she pretends her “old heart” needs to rest and asks Snow for help. While talking about the Prince, Snow bites her poisoned apple to make the wish of seeing him again. She falls to the floor, presumably dead.
The Dwarves surround her in a bed of flowers and glass coffin. Prince Florian arrives, devastated that the sweet soul he was looking for is dead. In an effort to say goodbye, he gives her a kiss. True love’s kiss, and she awakens from her sleep. After their embrace, Snow tells them what happened and all her guys, quite literally, run the Evil Queen off the edge of a cliff. It's perfectly dramatic and also very dark for a kid’s movie.
Snow then says her goodbyes and rides side saddle on the Prince’s horse into the sunset.
This movie was better than I remembered. The score makes you feel like you’re walking around Fantasyland, and the animation was stunning. When you watch it, you notice it's dated, but you would never guess it was 83 years old! (Tip: look at how realistic the water in the wishing well scene looks).
The only questionable aspect of the film was the “non-consensual” true love’s kiss, but compared to a lot of the earlier Disney films that have blatantly racist, sexist, or homophobic elements, Snow White is considerably less cringy.
We give it 3 wishes out of 5. It’s a cute film that makes you appreciate Walt's ingenuity, but it’s also not one you’ll be dying to watch again. It’s a film to have on in the background as you take a page from Snow’s book and clean your room while avoiding your problems.
Someday, the special effects will come.
What is your favorite classic Disney movie? Let us know on social media.