Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Snow White and the Seven Quick Takes

1.I've been seeing a lot of Snow White lately, courtesy of the nice folks at Netflix. The movie is certainly lovely, like a storybook brought to life. Critics have called it a masterpiece, and I guess that's accurate in a certain sense. A cinematic masterpiece, an artistic masterpiece, yes; a dramatic masterpiece, no. Snow White is not a dramatic heroine. She undergoes no change through the course of the movie. She acts not; she is acted upon. She reacts reflexively to circumstances. (This is literal: at one point a dwarf taps at her knee with a drumstick and her foot kicks up.) The prince is a dud and the dwarves are mere comic accessories. The queen is the only dramatic figure. She acts. She chooses. She dominates, until she's run off a cliff and smashed by a big rock.


I had always found Snow White's voice to be extremely annoying until I saw this video of Adriana Caselotti, the singer who recorded Snow White. The woman has a sweet bubbly personality that makes her voice seem real. If anything, the animation fails to capture the individuality of the voice.

3. I had always heard that J.R.R. Tolkien was so appalled by Snow White that he put it in his will that Disney could never make a movie of any of his books. Google isn't giving me much help in verifying that, though. Anyway, in The Two Towers, the song of farewell that Galadriel sings to the Fellowship begins, "O Snow-White!"

4. Of the prince, all I can say is, "Dude looks like a lady!"

5. The dwarves: weird, sexless little men. I love the interior of the dwarves' cottage, though it beggars belief that such bumbling fools could have produced such intricate carvings and artistic flourishes.

6. Want to see a real little princess with hair as dark as ebony, lips as red as the rose, and skin as white as snow?

7. The DVD goes back to Netflix today.


John Henry said...

C.S. once wrote in a letter to a friend that he shuddered at the thought of any of his books receiving the Disney treatment; that it would ruin them. And, of course, the distributor for the first two books is...Disney. Although, I think Disney operated differently in the 1950's than they do today.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

I know what you mean about Snow White's voice! Visually, I love the movie -- but that cutesy little girl voice!!!!!

I just have to keep reminding myself that this voice was probably considered appealing in the '30s, and I chant to myself, "I will not be merely modern . . . I will not be merely modern . . ."

As a child, my favorite movie was DIsney's Cinderella which I saw on the big screen when I was about six years old. I used to act out the scenes, especially the floor scrubbing scene with the bubbles, just the way your daughters did when they put on a Sleeping Beauty show for me during my visit. (Though of course I did mine without an audience.)

Enbrethiliel said...


I love your point about the Queen in Snow White.

And the bit about the dwarf tapping Snow White on the knee is made of LMAO!

Pro Ecclesia said...

Still my all time favorite Disney movie.

CMinor said...

It's too bad Tolkien didn't include Rankin & Bass in his ban; Disney could hardly have done a worse job of The Hobbit.

We saw the Disney LWW when it came out and mostly liked it, except for what we saw as the glossing of Aslan's role as a Christ figure. A little more Lewis and a little less Wilderness Family would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

I don't have an opinion on Snow White one way or another, but Miss Diana is just darling. You all can watch your cartoons, I'll rock the baby & read the originals :)

Pro Ecclesia said...

Okay, here's my defense of "Snow White".

It is a straightforward movie about good vs. evil. The Queen, who you correctly assess is the real lead character, was probably not always evil, but has been corrupted towards evil by vanity and pride. The evil that has entered her heart cannot abide innocence, goodness, and TRUE beauty as epitomized by Snow White.

Snow White, who is definitely a one-dimensional character, is just that: the embodiment of innocence, goodness, beauty.

The dwarfs (or, as Tolkien would have it, "dwarves"), who are just simple folk, have nothing to gain and everything to lose by helping the dispossessed princess, but they are nevertheless moved by her innocence, goodness, and beauty to act as her protectors. In the end, they rise up to defeat evil in the person of the Queen.

Even Grumpy, who is the only person in the story to show real growth and character development, rises to the occasion when goodness and beauty comes under direct threat.

There HAS to be a Catholic theme in there somewhere.


Kiwi Nomad said...

I love the real little princess at Take 6.
You hope the dvd is going back....One of my little nieces loved Nemo when she was not yet two. When it came time for it to be returned to the public library, it couldn't be found, though my sister hunted high and low for it. So my sister had to pay for a replacement. Then my niece turned up with the dvd. Where had it been hidden, nobody knows. Was it hidden deliberately, nobody knows....

mrsdarwin said...

Jay, don't think I dislike the movie! I do find it very beautiful -- delightful to watch and very innovative in terms of animation. But it's very much an animated fairy tale rather than a dramatic piece. And the prince is still a dud. :)