"Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" (1937)
Not only was this Walt Disney's first feature length production, but this was the first feature length animated film ever made. A huge risk at the time, people begged Disney not to make it. But the risk payed off, and the result is one of the most loved animated classics of all time.
Based on the fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, the team had been working on their first full length production since 1934. The plot revolves around Snow White, a young princess, whose stepmother takes over as Queen when her father passes away. When The Queen finds out that it is in fact, Snow White, who is the fairest in the land, and not herself, orders Snow White to be killed, and her heart returned to the Queen. A little dark, wouldn't you say? But, thankfully, the Huntsman, sent by the Queen, grows fond of Snow White, and lets her go. She makes friends with the animals of the forest, and stumbles upon the cabin of the seven dwarves. They then proceed to clean and the cabin and Snow White moves in. I won't go into much detail about the rest of the film because if you haven't already seen the film, I don't want to spoil the ending.
This film is excellent. The animation, for the time, is stunning. The design may be a bit simplistic,especially during the forest scenes, but other scenes, for example the rain during the climax, are visually beautiful and extremely impressive. The plot has a similar problem of being simplistic in some parts. The scenes with the dwarves are a bit odd, and feel out of place, despite being some of the most iconic scenes from the film. The most iconic, however, is by far the scene in which the Queen, diquised as an old woman, offers Snow White a poisoned apple. It's heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time.
There's a reason the characters of this film are some of the most beloved characters in Disney's history. The Queen is an incredibly effective villain, motivated by nothing but greed and her creepy infatuation with herself, and is sure to have given many children nightmares over the years. Snow White, herself, acts a symbol of innocence and beauty, creates a fascinating contrast with the Queen. The dwarves, including Bashful, Grumpy, and Dopey, while not my personal favorite, have become legendary Disney figures. The prince, on the other hand, has very little to do and has barely any lines. The films ends still being unclear about why The Prince is Snow White's true love, but for some reason the audience goes along with t, because after everything she's been through, we just want her to be happy.
Another highlight of the film is the music. The score is cheerful when it needs to be cheerful and threatening when it needs to be threatening. The songs have become Disney standards. 'Someday My Prince Will Come' opens the movie in such a beautiful way, it has become the anthem for the Disney princesses. 'Whistle While You Work' and 'Heigh-Ho' are the other standouts.
It's no wonder the film was a huge success and sparked a tradition of animated films that continues today. Walt Disney even received an honorary Academy Award for the film. A memorable story, striking visuals, and lively music are just some of the reasons this film is widely considered Walt Disney's masterpiece. It's hard to find an animated film with the same kind of emotional impact hat comes with this film. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" has been loved and cherished by audiences for generations and I assume, will continue to do so for a very long time.
Premiere Date: December 21, 1937