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Overall Grade
4.5 stars

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The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
4 Stars
High-Def Extras
4 Stars
Bottom Line
Must Own

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Street Date:
October 6th, 2009
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
October 5th, 2009
Movie Release Year:
1937
Studio:
Disney/Buena Vista
Length:
83 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Reviewing a film like 'Snow White' can be tricky. It's a classic in every sense of the word, and the premiere animated film, as it ushered in what we know today as the animated feature. Walt Disney and his crew created something not only timeless, but technologically marvelous. Every animated feature that followed 'Snow White' is inevitably influenced by it. After seventy-two years it still holds a firm place in American history, and it stands up, even today, as a slice of Americana that serves as a testament to Walt Disney's vision for animation. It was the foundation of Disney Animation, which is referenced by the seven large dwarf statues that act as pillars holding up the Team Disney Burbank building located on the Walt Disney Studios Burbank lot. With the revenue from 'Snow White' Disney was able to purchase the lot and see his vision and company move into a realm no one ever imagined.

'Snow White' is a simple story taken from Grimm's Fairy Tales. Disney's first princess, Snow White, is threatened by the evil queen because she's much fairer. Snow White soon meets up with a band of seven dwarfs who befriend her, hoping to save her from the evil queen. Taking things into her own hands the queen prepares a poisonous apple to give to Snow White that will put her into a deep sleep.

The seventy-two year old animation stands up beautifully, even today. It's a momentous achievement any way you look at it. The visuals of the cell animation are intoxicating. The now iconic music is still as lively and as fun as remembered. The one thing I caught on to more during my most recent viewing of the film is how funny it actually is. I don't much remember the humor from past viewings, but watching it over again, there's quite a lot of subtle comedy woven throughout the story and script.

This is why the film itself is hard to review: Sure it's a simple story with simple characters, but it has grown into such an icon that it's simply hard to quantify with a star rating. Suffice it to say that 'Snow White' will forever remain not only the most influential animated film of all time, but one of the most revered films in cinematic history. It paved the way for every animated feature we see today.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Considering the age of the source materials, Disney's preservation efforts have made the film look pristine and new. 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer of 'Snow White' is a technological marvel. Disney's newly enhanced restoration of this classic has truly given it new life. Colors are so bright and vibrant you would think this had been animated yesterday. I strained to find any type of errant noise or dust flecks, but came up empty (there are a few minor flecks during the beginning credits, but that's easy to let slide). There are times when it looks as if a character is encircled by some nasty edge enhancement. Fear not though, this is simply a byproduct of the original cell animation, and shouldn't count towards a lower score.

One of the biggest achievements of this masterful remaster is the consistency of the light source. Animation, especially cell animation this old, usually suffers from an inconsistent light source that causes light to dim and then brighten again. Nothing even close to that happens here. The picture is always well lit. The edges are distinct and concise. Blacks are optimum, and fine detail gives us a feeling of the true beauty of Disney's original cell animation. Have you ever been in a Disney gift shop and seen an immaculate cell painting hanging on the wall for some ridiculous price? The painting is perfect in every way, like it was painted just yesterday. That's what you can expect from this transfer.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Created from an original mono track, Disney's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio track is only slightly less impressive than the video transfer. That's not to say this isn't a stellar track, because it is. It's just not quite perfection.

The sound has been mixed extremely well. It never, at any point, feels like a forced 7.1 track. When mixing something from a mono source, if not careful, the surrounds could end up feeling unnatural. 'Snow White's audio track however, never puts forth that feeling. It's a very natural surround sound experience. Dialogue is clear through the front channels, but at times there are slight directionality issues. The surround channels are relegated to mostly providing light ambient noise and also helping with a lot of the film's music. LFE is somewhat underpowered, only really coming to life during strikes of lightning and claps of thunder. Fans of the original Disney songs will be ecstatic to here them remastered here in 7.1. "Whistle While You Work," particularly, has an all encompassing feeling as whistles from the dwarfs echo around you. In typical Disney fashion, leaving no stone unturned, a restored version of the original mono track is also included for those that feel the need to watch this classic the way it sounded seventy-two years ago.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary (Disc 1) - John Canemaker, a film historian, offers an insightful commentary on the history and impact of 'Snow White.' Not only is the film a Disney classic, it's one of, if not the most influential animated film ever. Using interviews from Walt Disney, Canemaker examines plenty of technical aspects of the film. We learn what was so revolutionary about the animation used, and the immense amount of time that went into the project. This is a must listen for anyone who buys the disc. It's fascinating.
  • Snow White Returns (Disc 1) (HD, 9 min) - This feature takes us into the archives of Disney. We're shown what appears to be a complete storyboard for a sequel to 'Snow White.'
  • Deleted Scenes (Disc 1) (HD, 11 min) - There are two deleted scenes here. One shows the dwarfs making a bed for Snow White, and the other is the dwarfs eating soup.
  • Music Video (Disc 1) (HD, 4 min) - Singer Tiffany Thorton gives us her own version of the song "Some Day My Prince Will Come."
  • 'The Princess and the Frog' Sneak Peek (Disc 1) (HD, 8 min) - Here you'll get to see the first 6 minutes of Disney's new animated feature that will be hitting theaters this holiday season. The first half of the sneak peek is in full color and finished animation, the second half is peppered with all sorts of different stages of animation, because the film is not yet finished. Still it's an interesting look at the new film. I for one am grateful that Disney Animation is returning to its roots of hand-drawn animation.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

    Hyperion Studios (Disc 2) - Within the Hyperion Studios section of the second disc hides a treasure trove of special features. From photo galleries, to classic Disney shorts, the Hyperion Studios houses a cavalcade of features that will keep you entertained for quite a while. The studios are split into different departments. Keep an eye out for some classic Disney shorts, like 'Steamboat Willie,' and other famous short 'Silly Symphony' cartoons.

    Hyperion Exterior

  • Where it All Began (HD, 12 min) - This feature gives us an introduction to the film and also a glimpse of Walt Disney and his team of animators that worked on the film.
  • The One that Started It All (HD, 17 min) - This brand new featurette takes a look at the cinematic influence that 'Snow White' had. With the proceeds from 'Snow White' Walt Disney was able to buy land for Disney Animation Studios and start pumping out animated classic after animated classic.
  • Family Business (HD, 2 min) - A Disney special feature section wouldn't be complete without showing the people working at Disney having way more fun than people should be having at work.
  • Story Room

  • Stories from the Story Room (HD, 1 min) - Interviews from a few writers are culled together here in this short featurette.
  • Five Bucks a Gag (HD, 2 min) - In order to get some humor into the film, Walt Disney apparently offered to pay the writers five dollars for every gag they threw into the film.
  • In Walt's Words: The Huntsman (HD, 3 min) - Walt Disney was an odd, but immensely entertaining man. Always thinking outside of the box, so to speak. This small featurette shows us the habit Walt had of walking around the animation studio searching his animator's trash cans hoping to resurrect ideas that animators had previously thrown out.
  • Gabby, Blabby, and Flabby (HD, 1 min) - This is a pretty funny look at the animators and writers of the film and how they fought over what they were going to name the dwarfs. Let's just be happy that they weren't named Gabby, Blabby, and Flabby, right?
  • Babes in the Woods (HD, 8 min) - An early Disney short is presented here. It's a short story about Hansel and Gretel. It's always fun to discover these old Disney shorts hidden on home video. I for one am grateful that Disney has preserved them shorts for us to enjoy even today.
  • Storyboard Art Gallery - This gallery totals 135 still images. It is an immense gallery, but it never gets boring scrolling through them checking out the different concepts and storyboards.
  • Abandoned Concepts Gallery - This gallery totals 63 images and focuses on concepts that were not used in the film. It's always interesting to see what animators had come up with and then you can see how the finish product evolved from some of these abandoned concepts.
  • Music Room

  • Music Room Host (HD, 1 min) - This is just a short introduction to this department, the Music Room, and offers a little bit of information on the duties of the workers that work here.
  • David Hand's Dirty Trick (HD) - This is a short featurette that tells of a prank that David Hand played as a deadline loomed close for him.
  • (HD, 6 min) - If any of these featurettes should have been a little longer it is this one. Still, it has some remarkable information about the music used in the film.
  • The Skeleton Dance (HD, 6 min) - WOO! One of my favorite shorts ever presented in HD. Disney's 'Skeleton Dance' is one of its most famous classic shorts. When digging through the special material you'll feel like you stumbled onto a hidden treasure when you find this hanging out in the Music Room.
  • Art Department

  • Creating the World of 'Snow White' (HD, 7 min) - This featurette shows the original influences and creation of the world of 'Snow White.' It focuses mainly on the forests and castles used in the film and their European influences.
  • The Idea Man (HD, 2 min) - This is just a few snippets about Dinsey animator Albert Hurter and some of his ideas.
  • Music Land (HD, 10 min) - This is a 'Silly Symphony' short, which tells the story of the love between two instruments. Just another Disney short to enjoy!
  • In Walt's Words: Cleaning the Cottage (HD, 7 min) - This featurette gives us an idea of what Walt wanted done with the cleaning scene in the film.
  • Visual Development Gallery - This gallery totals 146 images in total. The title is fairly self-explanatory. We get to witness some of the visual development of the film through still images.
  • Gustav Tenggren Art Gallery - This gallery totals 16 images. In comparison with some of the other galleries this is a really short one, but still worth a visit.
  • Character Design

  • In Walt's Words: The Dwarfs (HD, 6 min) - Culled from old meeting transcripts between Walt and his crew, this featurette gives us an idea of what Walt had in store for the dwarfs and what he wanted to see done.
  • Character Design Gallery - Only 5 images here. That seems really small, especially when we're dealing with character design, but it's ok. By now you may be burned out on galleries.
  • Color Tests Gallery - A total of 12 images are contained here showing color tests for different characters.
  • Background and Layout

  • Setting the Stage (HD, 4 min) - This featurette runs the gamut of setting up a shot for the film. Watching cell animation at work is fascinating.
  • Backgrounds Gallery - The 25 images here give us some great stills of the backgrounds used in the film.
  • Layout Gallery - This gallery totals 115 layout images.
  • Animation Department

  • Bringing 'Snow White' to Life (HD, 12 min) - The main animators of the film recall their assistance with the film and what they did to bring the animated classic to life.
  • The Animators' Favorite Animators (HD, 2 min) - This short featurette is just some of the animators congratulating other animators by telling each other how much they like one another's work.
  • Blowing Off Steam (HD, 2 min) - A short look at some of the pranks the animators pulled on each other.
  • Goddess of Spring (HD, 10 min) - Hidden here is another classic 'Silly Symphony' short.
  • Playful Pluto (HD, 8 min) - A very early Disney short that shows an early version of famous Disney character, Pluto.
  • Animation Art Gallery - This gallery contains 39 images of various animation.
  • Live Action Reference

  • Live Action Host (HD, 1 min) - This is an introduction to the department.
  • Drawing on Real Life (HD, 2 min) - This featurette explains how Walt would use real actors as a starting point for 'Snow White.'
  • Giving Voice to Snow White (HD, 3 min) - Explores the casting of Andriana Caselotti as the voice of Snow White.
  • Live Action Reference Gallery - Totaling 26 images, this gallery gives us some still images of the live action references that Walt used.
  • Sweatbox

  • Sweatbox Host (HD, 1 min) - An introduction to this section by Eric Goldberg.
  • Sweating it Out (HD, 1 min) - Features a couple old interviews that discuss how obsessed Walt was with perfection in all aspects of his company and animation.
  • Deleted Bedroom Fight Scene (HD, 2 min) - This is a short scene that was actually cut from the film.
  • Ink and Paint

  • The Challenges of Ink and Paint (HD, 2 min) - This featurette introduces us to the painters who filled in the animation cells.
  • Life in the Nunnery (HD, 2 min) - This gives us an idea of how the animators and the painters were separated.
  • Flowers and Trees (HD, 9 min) - Jumping back into the hidden shorts on this disc, this is one from the history books. The first animated film to win an Academy Award, and the first Technicolor cartoon ever. This is one to watch and treasure.
  • Camera Department

  • Decoding the Exposure Sheet (HD, 7 min) - This featurette gives us an idea of how Walt liked to organize his shots.
  • Stories from the Camera Department (HD, 1 min) - Here we learn some of the camera technology that was used to create the film.
  • The Old Mill (HD, 9 min) - Here's another 'Silly Symphony' short film that was used to test out the "multiplane camera." Finding these shorts is half the fun of searching through all of these features.
  • Sound Stage

  • Walt's Early Masters of Sound (HD, 2 min) - This shows us how some of the film's sound effects were implemented.
  • Steamboat Willie (HD, 8 min) - Quite possibly the most famous animated short of all time, 'Steamboat Willie' gives us an idea of what it was like to synchronize sound with the animation. Having 'Steamboat Willie' presented in HD, is one of the best things about the features on this set.
  • Walt's Office

  • Working with Walt (HD, 2 min) - Walt's crew gives us an idea of what it would have been like to work with the legend himself.
  • Publicity Gallery - This gallery has a total of 34 images focusing around publicity of Disney.
  • Production Photos Gallery - This gallery totals 21 images focusing on the production.
  • DisneyView (Disc 1) - If you're one of those people who is annoyed by the black bars leftover from the 1.33:1 aspect ratio then enable this option and those black bars will be filled by paintings by artist Toby Bluth. At some points during the movie the paintings blend naturally with the surroundings in the film, but at other points they seem downright out of place. If you want to watch 'Snow White' as it was originally meant to be seen, then you'll want to leave this feature off.
  • Family Play (Disc 1) - I'm never a big fan of these home video based games that you play with your remote. Your kids may love them though. The games included here are a quiz-like game called "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall," a jewel matching game called "Jewel Jumble," and a game called "What Do You See." There's also a BD-Live function located here called "Scene Stealer."

Final Thoughts

'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' is a lovely film that captures the heart and imagination of Walt Disney and what he was trying to achieve in the world of animation. It's a beautifully animated film that has been given new life with a fantastic HD treatment. Stunning video and audio presentations await you. How can a seventy-two year old film look this good? The answer is the attention to detail Disney puts into each and every one of their animated releases. This release comes with the highest of recommendations and is a must own for any collection.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Dual Layer Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.33:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Audio Commentary
  • 'Princess and the Frog' Sneak Peek
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Music Video
  • 'Snow White' Returns

Exclusive HD Content

  • Hyperion Studios
  • Magic Mirror
  • DisneyView
  • About Toby Bluth
  • Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
  • What Do You See?
  • Jewel Jumble
  • Scene Stealer
  • Standard-definition copy of the film