Hello and welcome to the Disney version of In Too Deep, where I over-analyse each Disney film over the year.
Because in case you didn’t know, I’m working at Disney World for a year. Because I’m awesome. In the Magic Kingdom no less, cleaning tables and whatnot (and before you mock me, I got given my name tag by Mickey Mouse yesterday, ergo I win). But since I’m at Disney for a year, and I have all the Disney films accessible to me (Disney keeps a very well stocked library), why not over-analyse each movie? So lets start off with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
First off, lets over-analyse the impact it had on the world. I mean it is the first animated feature film and all that (and an incredibly short film as well when compared to what’s being made nowadays). But what’s really interesting is just how two different types of character animation there is. You have Snow White/The Queen/The Prince and The Huntsman; and then you have the old Hag and the Seven Dwarfs (there is only 11 characters in Snow White, you’d never think that until you watch the movie properly). The first four are drawn in a very realistic style that is complete contrast to how the official merchandise paints them as (seriously compare the two versions of Snow White to see the difference, especially around the eyes, which are bigger nowadays). Whereas the Dwarfs and Hag are almost rubbery in their cartoony style. Course this is all rather obvious stuff to point out, but it does show the differences in the animation at the time. In fact it’s almost Looney Tunes esque in its art style when it comes to the dwarfs. But speaking of the characters, what about the titular one herself?
Is Snow White a good role model for young ladies? Most leading feminists would say no. And on the surface she really isn’t. She’s young and naÃ¯ve enough to take a bite from an apple a stranger gives her, and shallow enough to fall madly in love with the first man she meets. In theory it’s a pretty weak character. But that’s just a surface glance and a rather poor one at that, done by people who often miss the point of the character. So is Snow White just a ‘damsel in distress’. Well she was about to be murdered and got set free only by luck more than anything, and anyone would be distressed if they had to run away from home and never go back. And she does get over her fears relatively quickly and adjusts to her new situation. She also manages to clean up the entire cottage by herself (well, with some help from a few friends). Then there’s the whole ‘only wanting to marry a prince’ angle. First off: She’s fourteen. I don’t think you can judge a pubescent girl as being ‘irrational’ when you can’t say you were much different at that age. Who wouldn’t want to marry a prince/princess? Okay she rides off with the guy at the end, but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re married, does it? He did just revive her after she wished to marry her prince (hence why she wasn’t surprised since she expected it to happen), but it’s more likely they talked a bit before deciding whether to settle down. â€œBut,â€ I hear you ask, â€œshe was revived by true love’s first kissâ€. And that’s true. But she does love the Prince, at least in as a symbolic object if not a person yet. But a lot of people seem to miss the strengths of the character. She’s independent, she’s hard-working, she’s strong-willed. The Dwarfs never boss her about, she’s often in control of the situation. It’s just this kindness that is her downfall, since by helping the Hag she gets tricked into eating the apple. So is Snow White a terrible role model? No, not really. Sure she does things previously associated with femininity like cook and clean, but that doesn’t automatically mean she’s a weaker character for it. And when did it become a crime for a woman to want to be a housewife? So no, I don’t think Snow White is as bad as some people make her out to be.
In lieu of mentioning the animals and housework, there is a subtle reference to how things were perceived in the Middle Ages. To quote the ever quotable Hamlet: â€œSomething is rotten in the state of Denmark.â€ If my Shakespeare tutor is correct (and I was actually listening properly), this is in reference to the idea that the land and the ruler are tightly linked. Well this shows through clearly in how both Snow White and the Queen act around animals and how animals perceive them. The Queen is only Queen by marriage and could have easily killed the King (who else would the skeleton in the dungeon be?) She’s also a vain Queen who probably doesn’t treat her subjects well. As such the land and the animals within it dislike her and try to protect the rightful ruler, Snow White. She is one with the land, hence why the animals love her so much. Perhaps a bit of stretch, but it could prove that Snow White is meant to be the rightful ruler over her stepmother.
Next up is the apple. Well do I even need to say more? The apple is clearly in reference to the old Adam and Eve story. OR IS IT? I mean the Bible never refers to the Fruit of Knowledge as an apple. That’s just popular culture at work. But lets pretend that it really is an apple. Snow White bites into it to get a wish to come true. But does she really believe that? Be honest, readers, would you say no to a poor old woman who’d just been attacked by birds and was offering you a gift of thanks? Seemed harmless enough and all that. So I don’t think the apple is as clear of a reference as people might think it is.
So what’s left to discuss? Well just two last questions: Is Grumpy named because he’s grumpy, or is he grumpy because of his name? I mean did he just happen to be a sourpuss who everyone just kept calling him that? Or did his parents decide to call him Grumpy and thus he was forever stuck in the role. Interesting chicken and egg conundrum. Still, one last question: Which Dwarf doesn’t cheer at the end of Snow White?
So there you have it. A quick overview of Snow White. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Next time (probably, unless I think of something else instead): Pinocchio goes to Hell.