“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
“Why, there’s seven little chairs. Must be seven little children. And from the look of this table, seven untidy little children.”
There are plenty of classic movies that remain famous, but don’t necessarily get watched by non-movie nerds. Sure, Battleship Potemkin invented the concept of the montage and pioneered editing techniques that are still used today, almost a century later, but I’m sure there are way more people reading this who’ve never seen it than those who have.
For some reason though, kids’ movies seem to stick around longer and be nenjoyed by more generations. Maybe parents force them on their own kids, maybe there’s something about animation that makes them seem more visually timeless. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first ever feature length animated movie. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is now almost 80 years old. But I think you’d be hard pressed to find people of any generation since then, who didn’t see this movie at least once as a kid.
An insecure, narcissistic Queen (Lucille La Verne) approaches her magic mirror, asking who the fairest woman in the world is. As the answer has always been her, the Queen is angered this time to learn that the title of world beating hotness has now been passed to her stepdaughter, the Princess Snow White (Adriana Caselotti). So, of course, the only logical thing for the Queen to do is to order one of her Huntsman (Stuart Buchanan) to take Snow White out to the woods, kill her, and bring back her heart as proof.
Unable to go through with it, the Hunstman leaves Snow White alone in the woods, but alive, and presents a pig’s heart to the Queen. At first scared and alone, Snow White soon makes friends with the animals of the wood, who help her find a little house, filled with little furniture. She cleans the empty house, falls asleep and is discovered when the home’s inhabitants return. Seven diamond morning dwarfs. She builds a new life caring for the little dudes and everyone is happy. Until the Queen’s mirror lets her know that Snow White is still the fairest in all the land, because Snow White is still very much alive.
It’s amazing that Disney got so much so right with their first attempt at a feature length film. There’s a fluid look to the animation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that would inform the look of every prestige Disney animated movie for the next several decades. The way these characters look and move is so smooth and rich and detailed. It all exists in a kind of gravity that obviously isn’t possible in the real world, but has been copied for pretty much every animated movie or TV show in the years since. Well, copied by the good ones, anyway.
I’m not a huge Disney fan. As a kid, I thought the schmaltzy world of Disney was kind of lame compared to the anarchy of Warner Brothers cartoons. But the older I get, the more I can appreciate the technical artistry of classic Disney. The stories might be overly simple and sentimental at times, but when they look this good, I can live with it.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Directed By – William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen
Written By – Ted Sears, Richard Creedon, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank, Webb Smith
Honorary Oscar for a Significant Screen Innovation Which has Charmed Millions and Pioneered a Great New Entertainment Field