Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Walt Disney Pictures
|Original title: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Characters: Snow White, The Evil Queen, The Prince, Scholar, Grumpy, Gongolo, Pisolo, Mammolo, Eolo, Cub, The Magic Mirror, The Hunter
Production: Walt Disney Studios
Regia: David Hand, Perce Pearce, William Cottrell, Larry Morey, Wilfred Jackson, Ben Sharpsteen
Duration: 83 minutes
Recommended age: Movies for all ages
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ("Snow White and the seven Dwarfs" in the American original) is the first feature film in the history of animated cinema by Walt Disney; its production, which began in 1934, was completed in 1937. The film premiered on December 21 at the Carthay Cicle Theater in Los Angeles and was an extraordinary success. In fact, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs represents a real cinematographic turning point, not only because it is confirmed as a masterpiece of unsurpassed size, but also because it has set a standard by which all cartoons are judged. Disney - already known and appreciated for having invented the mythical character Mickey Mouse - his project matured upon returning from a vacation in Paris, where in certain cinemas his short films were screened one after the other, without interruption. Thus it was that the producer had a brilliant intuition: he understood that feature films could represent the future of cinema; therefore, once in America, he mobilized his human, professional and economic energies to realize this new great gamble (judged at that time "Walt's madness"). The choice to animate Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was influenced by the vision of the silent film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", played by the actress Marguerite Clark. In putting the works right, the problem immediately emerged of how to entertain an audience unaccustomed to holding an hour and a half a brightly colored cartoon. Therefore it seemed necessary for Snow White to be equipped with a realistic profile - not caricatural - capable of transmitting a strong power of identification and participation in the events narrated and according to Walt, the tale of the Brothers Grimm had all the requisites for this to be successfully realized: the evil witch, the sweet girl, the prince charming, the love story, the sympathy of the dwarves and so on.
Snow White is a splendid and delicate girl (says the Magic Mirror: "she has a pink mouth, her hair is ebony, like snow is white"), whom the queen, her stepmother, envious, forces to be a scullery maid. One day the mirror, when questioned, reveals to the woman who, albeit dressed in rags snow-white
she continues to be much more beautiful: "Beautiful, you are beautiful, my queen. But in the world there is a girl dressed only in rags, poor thing! But alas, much more beautiful is". Blinded by anger and envy, the cold stepmother plans the death of the young woman and, summoning a trusty servant, the hunter, orders him to lead Snow White into the woods to kill her. As proof of his death she asks him to deliver the girl's heart to her in a casket. The hunter, seeing the girl so sweet and innocent, fails to complete the thankless task, so he puts the girl to flight and in order not to arouse the queen's revenge he kills a boar and brings her the animal's heart. , passing it off as the princess. Meanwhile Snow White, desperate and full of terror, enters the forest which, due to the darkness and the projection of her feelings of fear and anguish, comes to life with monsters and hostile creatures. At the end of her strength, the girl falls asleep, but when she awakens she will find comfort and protection in the animals of the forest, with which she will immediately get in tune thanks to her quiet, almost mystical temperament. it appears uninhabited, it is so dirty and unkempt. Then, with the support of her new friends, she rolls up her sleeves and tidies up the pretty house (which she believes is inhabited by children abandoned by their parents) and cooks a delicious soup. When the sun goes down snow-white
he falls asleep in three of the seven beds, on which funny names are carved.
In the meantime the dwarves return from the mines and seeing the house lights on they believe the thieves have entered; therefore they arm themselves with courage and sticks: but what a surprise to discover instead a splendid girl! Meanwhile, the noise and confusion awaken Snow White, who immediately conquered the benevolence and hospitality with her sweetness, but also guessing the name of each one: Dotto is a little confused pundit, as well as leader of the group, Mammolo is shy and secretly in love with snow-white, Aeolus is a funny guy who suffers from hay fever, Pisolo instead is a sleeper who has found very useful, Gongolo has a radiant smile that conquers everyone, finally there are Grumbler, grumpy and misogynist and Cucciolo, very nice, even if he communicates only with gestures as dumb. After having consumed the dinner prepared by Snow White, the cute little men entertain the young woman with songs, dances and cheerful music and moved by the story told by the girl, they decide to take care of her and preserve her from the clutches of the evil stepmother.
In return, the girl would look after the house, filling it with its enchantment. Unfortunately, the queen soon discovers that Snow White is not dead, on the contrary she lives serene in the woods, a guest of the dwarves. Then, prey to a visceral hatred, he goes to the dungeons of the castle, where he exercises his powers as an alchemist to create a fruit: an apple with such a beautiful and inviting appearance as to be irresistible. But an apple so poisonous that a single bite would have condemned the graceful princess to eternal sleep, from which she could only awaken thanks to the kiss of true love. Then in the guise of an old lady the queen goes into the woods; arrived at her destination she pretends to be thirsty and asks the girl for a sip of water who, despite the recommendations of the dwarves, lets her in.
The old woman, feigning gratitude, offers Snow White the fruit and claiming that the apple has the power to grant wishes, convinces her to take a bite. The arrival of the dwarves will be of no use, warned of the imminent danger by the animals of the forest, they throw themselves in pursuit of the witch. When cornered she will try to crush the dwarves with a large stone; instead the anger of a lightning made her fall on a precipice. The grief-stricken dwarves try to revive the girl, but in vain. So, not having the courage to bury her, they build a coffin of crystal and diamonds, where they lay the pretty one covered with flowers. The days go by and while dwarves and animals keep watch over the beautiful Snow White crying, the prince, having learned of the sweet girl, goes into the woods and seeing her so beautiful cannot resist the urge to kiss her. She, at the touch of his lips, awakens from sleep even more beautiful and sweet. This is how the graceful princess on the back of a splendid white steed, after having given the last farewell to the dwarves and the forest, will go together with Prince Charming to the castle, where they will live happily for a long time.
Animating the tale of the Brothers Grimm entailed not a few difficulties on a technical-narrative level. One of the main problems was to make human movement as fluid and realistic as possible. In doing this they experimented with the Multiplane technique (i.e. multi-planes, to give the effect of three-dimensionality) and the Rotoscope technique (which consists in photographing movements performed live by actors and actresses, in the manner of pantomime, which then are traced by the designers). The same were developed in some short films made in '34 by Walt Disney, in the style of "Silly Sinphony"(humorous and entertainment cartoons, mainly featuring animals, but also caricatures of human figures); among these I want to mention" The old mill "(in which the Multiplane technique is used) and" The goddess of Spring "(in which human movement is developed with the Roboscope). But Snow White, while integrating the "Silly Sinphony" (the forest animals and the dwarves themselves are an example), surpasses them, as we get an animation that is absolutely refined and realized with the utmost expression and beauty. In previous cartoons, in fact, the images were elongated, squashed and mechanical, with Snow White instead the movements of the figures are dynamic and incredibly realistic. The characters are alive, as if endowed with a life of their own and independent, they transmit pathos, feelings, they are capable of making us move. The story is told through fluid scenes and sequences, which seem to dance along an increasingly engaging rhythm, from beginning to end. Even the image of Snow White underlines the progressive detachment from the feminine caricatures then in vogue, in the wake of Betty Boop, although it retains some very significant characteristics (sweetness, spontaneous femininity, the unaware as much as innocent sensuality; these factors, which contribute to making it so irresistible). Even the queen undergoes a profound transformation: she is beautiful, even if cold and impenetrable; it represents a concentration of greed and wickedness, highlighted by the horrible aspect. Still in terms of animation, Disney made use of the precious collaboration of some of the best European illustrators, evident in the exquisitely European cut that enriches the feature film (this is evident from the way in which the forest, the trees, the little house are drawn. of the dwarves etc.). The thin, sweet, almost unearthly voice of Biancaneve belongs to Adriana Caselotti (then eighteen and coming from a family of opera singers); while the grace of Snow White was reproduced on the movements of the model Marjore Belcher (ballet dancer). The nice dwarves, on the other hand, did not represent a problem from a technical point of view, as they were already caricatures, with which one could indulge oneself. These are in fact responsible for the humorous dimension, the fun, the gags and a lot of tenderness. They arouse a great sense of identification, whether considered individually (who among us does not feel a little Mammolo, or Cucciolo, or Grumbling?), Which as regards the deep good they nourish for the beautiful Snow White or for their pain in the believe it dead, as well as in the joy they show when they wake up.
Initially it was estimated that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would have required a cost of $ 600.000, but instead the expenses rose to $ 1.700.000. Furthermore, the staff who worked on the project had to follow specialization and in-depth courses on movement. With the profits from the Walt Disney film he was able to expand his studios.
As I have already pointed out, looking at Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, together with the excellence of the drawings and animation, it is possible to admire the happy combination of realism and sentiment, infused in the environments and in the animals, as well as in the human characters. In fact, the animals immediately get in tune with the young woman and try to help her in different ways and, when the latter is in danger, they run like mad towards the mine to warn the dwarves. Snow White herself and her Prince Charming express their intense love through a song inspired by the heart. Finally I would like to remember that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as told by Walt Disney, is free from the didactic-pedagogical intentions present in the original version, but the moralistic-fairy-tale teachings accompany us throughout the course of this fascinating and exciting fantastic journey- narrative.
by Helga Corpino
All names, images and registered trademarks are copyright © Disney, and are used here for information and information purposes.