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Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs  

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  1. 1. Does Snow White belong on the AFI list?

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  • Poll closed on 04/12/19 at 07:00 AM

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Amy & Paul gaze through the looking glass into 1937's Walt Disney fairy tale Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs! They appreciate Snow's sense of humor, question the hygiene of squirrels washing dishes, and wonder what Disney would think of the behemoth his company has become. Plus: animation historian J.B. Kaufman explains what made Snow White so groundbreaking, and Kate Littleton, the moderator of the Unspooled Facebook group, tells us why Snow White is one of her favorite films.

 

Next week is All The President's Men - who would you cast as Robert Mueller in a future movie about Russiagate? Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com [unspooledpod.com], and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

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I hadn't seen this since the theatrical re-release in 1987 and I get the reason why it's on the list. It's the first and a huge step forward from what animation was doing even in 1936. I'm not super into the movie.

I like the first 40 minutes or so but I find the stuff with the dwarves not as interesting. The songs are good but ehhh, I don't really care about what's going on.

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1 hour ago, grudlian. said:

I hadn't seen this since the theatrical re-release in 1987 and I get the reason why it's on the list. It's the first and a huge step forward from what animation was doing even in 1936. I'm not super into the movie.

I like the first 40 minutes or so but I find the stuff with the dwarves not as interesting. The songs are good but ehhh, I don't really care about what's going on.

That's the main question I wanted to ask this week. Does a movie that in and of itself is pretty meh deserve to be on the Greatest list simply because of the achievement it made? Not that I'm cutting down how spectacular this was in 1937 but we're now well over 80 years out from it and we've all seen better more spectacular animated films.

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17 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

That's the main question I wanted to ask this week. Does a movie that in and of itself is pretty meh deserve to be on the Greatest list simply because of the achievement it made? Not that I'm cutting down how spectacular this was in 1937 but we're now well over 80 years out from it and we've all seen better more spectacular animated films.

My answer to this question is no.

I get that this movie has a lot of greatness by being the "first" but I can pick a handful of Disney movies from the same era that are better/more enjoyable.

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1 minute ago, grudlian. said:

My answer to this question is no.

I get that this movie has a lot of greatness by being the "first" but I can pick a handful of Disney movies from the same era that are better/more enjoyable.

Same. Honestly I really do enjoy Cinderella a hell of a lot more as a story and musical.

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Two comments:

In relation to how it's creepy what people do with dead bodies, Paul mentioned the Body Worlds exhibit. The people whose bodies are in that exhibit have all donated their bodies. Those people knew exactly what they were getting into.

In discussion how dark Disney was and how it has changed to be more happy go lucky, they mentioned how even Wreck It Ralph keeps things fairly positive. How can you forget "Inside Out"? That's a relatively recent film entirely about how a child deals with their emotions.

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I love animation, especially hand-drawn, so I'm happy that there's at least one for discussion in this list :)

That said, I know Snow White out of all of them is a hard sell for audiences in 2019. Not the least of which is the dated style of acting  with such a heavily rotoscoped performances by the human actors. It's probably my predilection, but the film only really comes alive with the relatively more freeform and cartoony dwarfs, which of course have all the personality and charm.

As for the debate whether it's legacy should be a strong (if not sole) criteria for inclusion in the list, it's the same for any of the "old" movies. It was certainly a selling point for City Lights if it arguably set the standard for rom coms ever after. I think there's enough to make Snow White a worthy inclusion on its own merits, although certainly I can rattle off any number that would be more sophisticated technically as well as story wise. 

And I fully admit that rewatching this film makes me yearn to watch Enchanted  :)    

  

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The other idea I think Snow White does encompass (and maybe perfectly?) for the AFI list is that it represents "all Disney." I personally think that a few other early ones are better too, and even closer to "great", but Snow White may be the best representation of Disney as a genre. It's a stand-in for all the great Disney movies at once. And I think to some extent that's what puts this on the list.

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9 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

The other idea I think Snow White does encompass (and maybe perfectly?) for the AFI list is that it represents "all Disney." I personally think that a few other early ones are better too, and even closer to "great", but Snow White may be the best representation of Disney as a genre. It's a stand-in for all the great Disney movies at once. And I think to some extent that's what puts this on the list.

I just have such a problem with that concept. Like I get it in terms of Stars Wars and Fellowship of the Ring because the trilogy itself is the complete story and therefore the first of each trilogy made the list because then it does grab you into watching all three movies (and then by virtue see the films that actually DO deserve to make the list... i.e. Empire Strikes Back and Return of the King respectively). In terms of Disney, though, Snow White's story concludes at the end of this film and there's really nothing drawing you to then go further into the Disney catalog based on this alone. I find having a place holder movie to represent better movies made by the same company simply because it was the first of its kind to rather defeat the purpose of this list entirely.

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7 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

The other idea I think Snow White does encompass (and maybe perfectly?) for the AFI list is that it represents "all Disney." I personally think that a few other early ones are better too, and even closer to "great", but Snow White may be the best representation of Disney as a genre. It's a stand-in for all the great Disney movies at once. And I think to some extent that's what puts this on the list.

That's a very interesting idea! I'd love to dig into that "what's a stand-in" a bit more. Snow White might indeed be a contender. I do wonder how much, however, it presumes that it must have a princess in order to be something quintessential. Because if that's so, and I get to consider all of Disney's animated films to date, I might say that Beauty and the Beast would take that title. 

What's more interesting is to consider if we really need a princess to be a stand-in. After all, Disney's last animated film was Jungle Book in the late 60s, meaning there was only three Disney princess at all in that 30 year period -- Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. The "mythos" of capital-D Disney was really part of the re-invention of the company in the late 80s with Michael Eisner and the so-called Disney Renaissance that banked heavily on what would be corporate synergy and branding and any number of other corporate buzzwords. 

Walt Disney himself would likely consider films like Fantastia, Dumbo, and Bambi as much more worthy of what should be contenders (in that he's often gone on record as these are his favorite films) for representational "stand ins," and I'll probably stick with those myself. 

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1 minute ago, taylorannephoto said:

I just have such a problem with that concept. Like I get it in terms of Stars Wars and Fellowship of the Ring because the trilogy itself is the complete story and therefore the first of each trilogy made the list because then it does grab you into watching all three movies (and then by virtue see the films that actually DO deserve to make the list... i.e. Empire Strikes Back and Return of the King respectively). In terms of Disney, though, Snow White's story concludes at the end of this film and there's really nothing drawing you to then go further into the Disney catalog based on this alone. I find having a place holder movie to represent better movies made by the same company simply because it was the first of its kind to rather defeat the purpose of this list entirely.

Yea I'm not sure how I feel about it. Those are good points. I don't think Snow White should be on here by itself, if you divorce it from its pioneering status. It feels to me voters may have been, "I can't decide which Disney movie so let's go with the prototype" and that has led to its elevation over all the others. I mean, we could easily argue for at least 6-7 others, right?  So then you're in a situation where the top-100 has like 5 similar animated Disney movies on it, or none at all.

But I liked Amy's comment right at the end about leaving "first" culture. The next iteration of a list should indeed make the tough choices and decide which are the best.

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1 hour ago, taylorannephoto said:

Same. Honestly I really do enjoy Cinderella a hell of a lot more as a story and musical.

I’m completely opposite. I hated Cinderella the last time I watched it (a year or so ago). Snow White completely astounds me from both a technical and storytelling perspective. For example, the Dwarf hoedown really seems to be there to show off just what they could do with animation, but it also serves to cement Snow White’s relationship with them.

The last time I watched Cinderella, I was shocked by how little she was actually in it. It was like she was a guest star in her own movie with most of it being devoted to her mouse friends. In this movie, there’s no doubt that it is Snow’s story.

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Also FYI, Fantasia was on the 1998 list (#58) but dropped off entirely for the one we're using

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8 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

In terms of Disney, though, Snow White's story concludes at the end of this film and there's really nothing drawing you to then go further into the Disney catalog based on this alone. I find having a place holder movie to represent better movies made by the same company simply because it was the first of its kind to rather defeat the purpose of this list entirely.

My reading of A. A. Ghost's post what less that it was meant to draw you into to watch more of the catalogue of movies, but it was representational of what the catalogue could offer. 

That being said, there's enough going on with Snow White in terms of technical achievements, story structure or tropes, and craft-like stuff like that which could certainly draw people into watching more of the same catalogue. Animation as a medium itself benefits from its legacy, and any number of animated films that still have an "ending" can draw people in to watch other films in the oeuvre.  That's certainly happened to me as a little kid.  

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Just now, Cameron H. said:

I’m completely opposite. I hated Cinderella the last time I watched it (a year or so ago). Snow White completely astounds me from both a technical and storytelling perspective. For example, the Dwarf hoedown really seems to be there to show off just what they could do with animation, but it also serves to cement Snow White’s relationship with them.

The last time I watched Cinderella, I was shocked by how little she was actually in it. It was like she was a guest star in her own movie with most of it being devoted to her mouse friends. In this movie, there’s no doubt that it is Snow’s story.

Oh man I could not feel more opposite! Even in terms of the story itself! I was shocked to find how Snow White seemed like such a secondary character in her own story! I will say it's been a few years since I've rewatched it, but I remember my feelings about it so well. I truly thought Snow White had no agency or characterization or even wants besides just wanting to marry the Prince she just met. I'm not trying to talk solely just about female representation here, but purely just the representation of the main character of this story. The Queen ends up being a far more interesting character, as do the dwarfs, and Snow White is a passive character that does NOTHING for herself and it's so boring to watch her. So I just completely disagree and I have major doubt that this is Snow's story.

Now Cinderella does have it's own set of problems as well, especially the whole desiring a man to save her thing and blah blah blah, but the story of the emotional abuse by her step mother and step sisters is way more set in reality for me than Snow White's and to me has a much better narrative. There's still a lot of suspension of disbelief that would go in to any of these animated Disney films, but I found Cinderella just much more interesting to rewatch than Snow White and her annoying ass lol.

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1 minute ago, DannytheWall said:

My reading of A. A. Ghost's post what less that it was meant to draw you into to watch more of the catalogue of movies, but it was representational of what the catalogue could offer. 

That being said, there's enough going on with Snow White in terms of technical achievements, story structure or tropes, and craft-like stuff like that which could certainly draw people into watching more of the same catalogue. Animation as a medium itself benefits from its legacy, and any number of animated films that still have an "ending" can draw people in to watch other films in the oeuvre.  That's certainly happened to me as a little kid.  

Oh yeah I totally understood him, but my point was just that then if this one movie is representing everything this catalogue could offer, then they're basically expecting you to be drawn into watching more to get that glimpse ya know?

I guess for me by the time I came around my first intro to Disney films were Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Those two films are not only animation marvels to watch, but have amazing stories and musical numbers that just make them amazingly well-rounded films. So then to go back to something like Snow White later you kinda just feel like... yeah this is cool I guess lol. And I've heard from new parents who sit their kids in front of things like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and they get legitimately bored. So the animation style is no longer something that is considered a marvel enough to makeup for the lack of a good well-rounded movie.

Y'all I'm realizing I may not like Snow White at all lololol.

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34 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

Oh man I could not feel more opposite! Even in terms of the story itself! I was shocked to find how Snow White seemed like such a secondary character in her own story! I will say it's been a few years since I've rewatched it, but I remember my feelings about it so well. I truly thought Snow White had no agency or characterization or even wants besides just wanting to marry the Prince she just met. I'm not trying to talk solely just about female representation here, but purely just the representation of the main character of this story. The Queen ends up being a far more interesting character, as do the dwarfs, and Snow White is a passive character that does NOTHING for herself and it's so boring to watch her. So I just completely disagree and I have major doubt that this is Snow's story.

Now Cinderella does have it's own set of problems as well, especially the whole desiring a man to save her thing and blah blah blah, but the story of the emotional abuse by her step mother and step sisters is way more set in reality for me than Snow White's and to me has a much better narrative. There's still a lot of suspension of disbelief that would go in to any of these animated Disney films, but I found Cinderella just much more interesting to rewatch than Snow White and her annoying ass lol.

There are whole huge sections of Cinderella where she’s not even in it. 

Also while perhaps truncated, the prince falls in love with Snow White for who she is - despite her rags. He has no idea that she’s a princess, he just knows he likes her voice. They even duet together showing their compatibility. Contrast this with Cinderella whose Prince falls in love with her exclusively because of her looks and when she’s looking her most regal.

As far as agency, I think Snow shows plenty. But she’s also a little girl whose primary attribute is kindness. So, no, she’s not going to storm the Wicked Queen’s castle or anything like that, but she does find shelter for herself and barters a new life with the Dwarves utilizing the skills she possesses. No one ever intervenes on her behalf and no one - neither the Prince, nor the Dwarves - ever tells her what to do. If anything, she’s the one saying, “No, no - this is how it’s going to be.”

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1 minute ago, Cameron H. said:

There are whole huge sections of Cinderella where she’s not even in it. 

Also while perhaps truncated, the prince falls in love with Snow White for who she is - despite her rags. He has no idea that she’s a princess, he just knows he likes her voice. They even duet together showing their compatibility. Contrast this with Cinderella whose Prince falls in love with her exclusively because of her looks and when she’s looking her most regal.

As far as agency, I think Snow shows plenty. But she’s also a little girl whose primary attribute is kindness. So, no, she’s not going to storm the Wicked Queen’s castle or anything like that, but she does find shelter for herself and barters a new life with the Dwarves utilizing the skills she possesses. No one ever intervenes on her behalf and no one - neither the Prince, nor the Dwarves - ever tells her what to do. If anything, she’s the one saying, “No, no - this is how it’s going to be.”

"For who she is."

I just want to comment on this one part, because I could not disagree more. Sure he doesn't know that she's a princess, but he has NO idea who she really is. He falls in love with her because of her voice and her beauty, and we would be naive to think that's not all it is. They sing one duet and suddenly they're both in love and that's extremely surface level. And believe me I'm not arguing for the love story in Cinderella as being the best representation of anything here, but I do prefer the full story, and I also do believe it's the only live action remake to properly convey the story and improve on the things it lacked that none of the Snow White or even the Beauty and the Beast adaptation could do.

Yes, Snow shows kindness and that is her greatest attribute but it still does nothing to convince me that she's a 3-dimensional character. For one, the skills that she possesses are literally just cleaning and cooking and that's a problem for a whole nother conversation. But everyone actually does intervene on her behalf. She doesn't get to defeat the witch, even if she was too nice to storm The Queen's castle she literally gets killed and then the dwarfs kill the witch on her behalf, and then Prince Charming is there to bring her back to life. Everything that happens at the climax of this story happens while she's dead and that begs the question of what the fuck is the point of her besides being someone that has actions done to them rather than being the one to do them herself. And while no one may tell her what to do (except the Huntsman and The Queen do actually order her to do what they want) the only things she decides are in regards to again cooking and cleaning. Truly she just tells the dwarfs to bath and cleans for them and makes them eat properly. That's sooooo dumb!

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30 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

And I've heard from new parents who sit their kids in front of things like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and they get legitimately bored.

As a counter-anecdote, I showed this to my son yesterday, who has been raised on all sorts of Hotel Transylvania type nonsense, and he was super into it. It also, as Paul kind of brings up, has a lot of teachable moments. (e.g. This is why we don’t take candy from strangers.)

Although, I think my son’s favorite early Disney movies would be either Pinocchio (which I hate) and 101 Dalmatians (which I’m not sure counts as “early” Disney).

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23 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

And I've heard from new parents who sit their kids in front of things like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty and they get legitimately bored. So the animation style is no longer something that is considered a marvel enough to makeup for the lack of a good well-rounded movie.

Y'all I'm realizing I may not like Snow White at all lololol.

Yup. That's why I said this movie is a hard sell for 2019 audiences. And it's not just for plot and character problems. Those things are just part of the aesthetic of the times, the same kind of aesthetic of color, light, editing, etc. So no fault for disliking it at all. I'm certainly arguing more because there are bits that I do like, and generally how much I like the medium itself. No fault to what started the conversation; I generally don't like discussions that JUST center on "should it List?" and would prefer to see it as an opportunity to talk about the films in general as they come up. 

29 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

but I remember my feelings about it so well. I truly thought Snow White had no agency or characterization or even wants besides just wanting to marry the Prince she just met. I'm not trying to talk solely just about female representation here, but purely just the representation of the main character of this story. The Queen ends up being a far more interesting character, as do the dwarfs, and Snow White is a passive character that does NOTHING for herself and it's so boring to watch her. So I just completely disagree and I have major doubt that this is Snow's story.

Well, to be fair the dwarfs don't really have any agency, either. They come home from work and all this stuff's already done for them. They do a song, I guess? Then they come to Snow White's rescue (too late), and to fight the Queen, but nope, it's bad weather and gravity that does her in. They put Snow on a bier, I guess? The only one actually doing any agency things here is the Queen.

Maybe she just needs a Maleficient-style makeover. After all, we don't actually see a body. :) Snow White 2: The Re-Appling 

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14 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

As far as agency, I think Snow shows plenty. But she’s also a little girl whose primary attribute is kindness. 

I'm listening to the podcast tomorrow. Did they also bring up the fact that Snow is canonically 14-years old as well? If not, sorry for the mic drop! It's past midnight in my part of the world and I'm going to bed 😛 

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Just now, DannytheWall said:

I'm listening to the podcast tomorrow. Did they also bring up the fact that Snow is canonically 14-years old as well? If not, sorry for the mic drop! It's past midnight in my part of the world and I'm going to bed 😛 

I haven’t finished it, but yes they do 🙂

Sweet dreams

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1 minute ago, DannytheWall said:

Yup. That's why I said this movie is a hard sell for 2019 audiences. And it's not just for plot and character problems. Those things are just part of the aesthetic of the times, the same kind of aesthetic of color, light, editing, etc. So no fault for disliking it at all. I'm certainly arguing more because there are bits that I do like, and generally how much I like the medium itself. No fault to what started the conversation; I generally don't like discussions that JUST center on "should it List?" and would prefer to see it as an opportunity to talk about the films in general as they come up. 

That's completely fair. And I'm trying to stay away from conversations that just center on how "woke" the movie isn't now that we do have a 2019 mindset as opposed to the 1937 mindset because it's true that we really can't hold it to the same light, but there are movies from this same time that I find stunning because they have created such beautiful stories and characters with more characterization than just she's nice and beautiful and can clean for strangers. Like two years later Gone with the Wind is made and Scarlett O'Hara is truly one of the most fascinating characters I've ever watched on film.

3 minutes ago, DannytheWall said:

Well, to be fair the dwarfs don't really have any agency, either. They come home from work and all this stuff's already done for them. They do a song, I guess? Then they come to Snow White's rescue (too late), and to fight the Queen, but nope, it's bad weather and gravity that does her in. They put Snow on a bier, I guess? The only one actually doing any agency things here is the Queen.

Maybe she just needs a Maleficient-style makeover. After all, we don't actually see a body. :) Snow White 2: The Re-Appling 

This is also fair, but for me I totally see a lot more depth put into the dwarfs than I do Snow, and that may have to do with animation style as well. I can see the care they put into designing each of these men and for some reason I don't see that same care put into Snow and it kinda translates into her character as well. I just totally find her boring! The Queen absolutely is the greatest character in this movie and legit one of my favorite moments is when she's going into her murder dungeon and just kicks away the cup from the skeleton and laughs at it. That was literally a better glimpse into who this women is than anything Snow White does this whole movie lol.

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16 minutes ago, taylorannephoto said:

For one, the skills that she possesses are literally just cleaning and cooking

Like Cinderella..?

I have no problem with her cooking and cleaning in return for shelter. I also think it takes skill to be able to do either of those things well. Honestly, I feel like she was just being a good houseguest. She was homeless and was being pursued by her evil stepmom and was like, “Hey, I can do this for you if you help me.” I would do the same thing.

It’s fine if you like Cinderella, but I think we’re really splitting hairs here. I think it comes down to a matter of taste. Any criticism you can level at Snow White (boring, no agency, poorly defined) I could level right back at Cinderella. So I’m going to let it go.

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