Disney // 1937 // 84 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Chief Justice Michael Stailey // October 7th, 2009
Still the fairest of them all!
When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' Platinum Edition DVD was released in October 2001, it was a format event, earning itself a spot on many Top 10 lists that year, including fourth place on DVD Verdict's Golden Gavel Awards. That being said, some might perceive this double dip to be a waste of time and money. Oh, not so. So, not so. Snow White in high definition Blu-ray is a revelation and deserves a prominent place in any animation lovers collection. Disneyphiles will not only treasure the upgraded audio/video presentation, but the brilliantly conceived virtual rebirth of Disney's Hyperion Studios is worth its weight in gold. I've consumed a metric ton of Disney history over the years and this release presents a surprising wealth of new material in a format that magically transports us back to 1930s Hollywood. But let's table that giddy enthusiasm and first talk about the film, for which retired Judge Michael Rankins has already presented a fantastic analysis.
A long time ago, in a kingdom far, far away...yeah, like we haven't heard that before...lived a perky princess named Snow White, happily doing the work of the castle staff in tattered rags and wooden shoes. It was a morning like any other: Snow's stepmother, The Queen, woke up and turned to her magic mirror for validation that she was indeed still the most beautiful woman in all the land. Imagine her surprise when the mirror responded that her stepdaughter's growing beauty had in fact surpassed her own. Oh, the horror! What's an evil stepmother to do? Have the girl killed, of course. Unfortunately, a weak willed henchman was unable to complete the dirty deed and pleaded with the princess to flee the kingdom forever. Lost and frightened, she stumbled upon an enclave of woodland creatures who shepherded her to the comfort and safety of a small cottage, the home of seven diminutive elderly brothers, miners by trade. Adding a woman's touch to the home, she impresses the shocked dwarfs and is asked to stay. All is right again with the world, that is until the nasty mirror reveals to The Queen that she's been deceived -- Snow White is still alive and will forever remain "the fairest of them all." Not if she has anything to say about it! A quick change potion disguises her majesty as an old hag and, with poison apple in hand, she sets off to rid the world of Snow's irritating beauty once and for all.
It's difficult to argue with a classic. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a historical landmark, the touchstone for feature animation, whose success built an empire. Seriously. It may be sacrilege to say, but I can take or leave many of the original Disney shorts. Save for a handful of truly indelible experiences, many of the characters are interchangeable and most of the stories are ultimately forgettable. But with Snow White, Walt and his team made us care. Like any great live-action film, we're invested in the well-being of the heroes and the eventual downfall of the villains. Yes, the story is considerably more pedestrian than the complex, multi-layered tales we've come to know and love from the House of Mouse and its Pixar brethren, but it's from this font that everything else has sprung. Without the blood, sweat, tears, love, and laughter that went into the creation of this film -- despite all odds -- movies like Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and WALL-E would never have existed...at least not in the form we know.
Loaded with Disney's trademark gags -- a staple of their shorts from Oswald the Rabbit through the Silly Symphonies -- Snow White weaves them into a rich tapestry of story heretofore unseen by 1930s moviegoing audiences. This is not at all what they expected of the 8-10 minute cartoons which often played before the feature film, which is why everyone though Walt was off his nut to craft a 90 minute animated tale. But contained within we find mystery, drama, a despicable villain, a damsel in distress, a dashing prince, and seven clowns for comic relief. What more does a movie need?
There are those who point to Snow White as being a terrible example for young girls, its underlying message being one of "wait around for a man to come sweep you off your feet and care for you the rest of your life." But let's not overlook the fact that Snow is not exactly helpless. She's smart enough to get the hell away from her whacked out stepmother, exhibits natural parenting skills, and is one hell of a cook. It's not like she's some celebutard sponging off her parents fortune. And let's face, her family isn't the picture of stability. In the original Brothers Grimm tale, The Queen was Snow's real mother. It's bad enough your stepmother tries to have you killed, but your actual birth mother? That's messed up. Here she only needs daily validation for her appearance. That's whacked enough. And how catty is the Mirror to torment an already unstable woman? That's just pure evil. Of course, we don't really know who or what the being in the mirror truly is -- an eternal, a demon, the soul of her dead husband (Snow's father)? We may never know. Whoever it is, being held captive by a mentally imbalanced royal who asks the same damn self-absorbed question day in and day out is enough to make anyone cranky.
In the pantheon of Disney villains, The Queen is a one trick pony. Like Severus Snape, she's a potions master. Big deal. Sure, she has dead prisoners in her dungeon, and her transformation into the old hag is quite shocking, but she's nowhere near operating on the level of Maleficent, Ursula, or Jafar. There are a couple indications she may have control of the weather, which if true makes you wonder why she goes to all the trouble of taking Snow out in person, rather than creating some type of storm to wipe out the entire forest. I mean, she doesn't seem like the type to get her hands dirty very often. And really, even if she succeeds in killing Snow White, what's she gonna do, starting killing off every beautiful young girl in the country the minute they come of age? That's a battle you have no chance to winning, lady.
As a Disney princess, Snow falls on the lower end of the spectrum. Yes, she's beautiful, she can sing, dance, and cook, but has very little personality, no back story, and her boyfriend is little more than a Ren Faire minstrel. In fact, we don't know anything about this guy and neither does she. This relationship could be a disaster in the making, although that castle in the clouds is not a bad place to get acquainted. Plus, she inherits everything her stepmother left behind, including the mirror, which could prove to be quite profitable...if you treat him right. So, there might be hope for these two kids after all.
The Dwarfs themselves owe a lot to The Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and The Little Rascals. Age those cinematic icons up 30 or 40 years and you have a lot of the same motivations and schtick. But where those characters remained relatively the same throughout their films, the dwarfs grow and change from having Snow in their life, Grumpy especially, which is what makes them so endearing even 70+ years later. These guys have personality to spare and it's amazing the company didn't do more with them. But maybe that mystique is a large part of their charm. Two or three sequels later and we may want nothing more to do with them. One thing that's always bugged me is that we're never sure if they're all related. The animals hint to Snow that they're orphans, leading one to believe they may be brothers. Who knows, maybe their home is a European precursor to the YMCA.
But I digress...I encourage you to read Judge Michael Rankin's beautiful critique of the film from it's Platinum DVD release. Before that, let's you and I cut to the chase and talk about the upgrade.
Although experimentation with the widescreen format began in the late 1920s, the depression made it far too expensive for practical use. As such, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was shot in the classic 1:37.1 format. However, much like their Blu-ray release of Pinocchio, Disney has leveraged the talents of artist Toby Bluth (brother of legendary animator Don Bluth) to paint the sidebars in the style of Gustav Tenggren who defined the look of the film. As such, we are able to view the tale through a window, rather than plain black bars. Or you could turn off the enhancement. Your choice. I prefer additional ambience.
In playing the Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray simultaneously, both images are impeccably clean, but there's an astounding dimensionality to the high def presentation you just don't see in the standard def transfer. Even though the characters are well defined, the backgrounds on the DVD blur the further back you go. On the 1080p/AVC-encoded Blu-ray, you can literally count the knots in the wood, cracks in the plaster, and brush stokes of the painters. More importantly, the lighting is considerably more effective in high def, making the DVD image seem dark in comparison. Like fine silver buffed to a pristine shine, the Blu-ray makes the previous transfer seem worn and flat. Here everything looks brand spankin' new. With that, there are moments you'll spot odd disconnects in color, lighting, and art quality between scenes. It's not anything to destroy the viewing experience. If anything, it's a nod to the accomplishments of everyone involved that there's only a handful of visible mistakes in a film most people thought would never get made.
Disney's 7.1 audio mix is fantastic, albeit falling a bit short of previous Blu-ray releases. Keep in mind though, the source material they're working with, from the technology of the late '30s, makes it impossible to sound anything like today's modern audioscapes. Where Disney has made the greatest improvement is in the music; it's like listening to a live orchestra and foley team in your living room, though playing over vintage dialogue. An unsurprisingly front-heavy mix, there's little in the way of ambient effects, but it works for the environment we're immersed in. Audiophiles will enjoy a remastered version of the film's original mono track, truly duplicating that 1930's experience.
Now for the Bonus Features, a staple of any Disney special edition release. And you're in for a real treat!
First up, the Magic Mirror uses your internet connection to pull down all sorts of information and weave it into his dialogue with you -- weather conditions, number of visits, yadda yadda yadda. It's a neat trick, but the shine wears off quickly and, if you spend any downtime between features, you'll find yourself getting ticked off as he continually promotes disc features you haven't viewed yet. Shut up already!
But all is forgiven, as the crown jewel of this release is a virtual recreation of Disney's Hyperion Studios, the birthplace of Snow White, the Silly Symphonies, and a warehouse of classic shorts. If there was ever to be a master class on Disney: The Early Years, this is it! Pixar's Andrew Stanton tees up the history of the long since extinct studios, now a grocery store in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. From each location, you use your remote to cycle through various hot spots on the still image to reveal photos, film clips, interviews, and remembrances from historians, current Disney staff, Walt, and his team. An extremely well done feature, peppered with the tiniest of ambient details that will haunt your audio and visual senses. I'll clue you into a few, but challenge you to find them all. And you can always refer back to the index checklist, which keeps track of anything you might have missed
Exterior (Where palm trees sway...)
* The One That Started it All (17:08) -- A mini-documentary on one of the great success stories of American cinema. Walt risked everything he had and more to show the world that animation can be just as powerful a storytelling medium, if not more so, than live action film. The fiscal lifeblood of the animated short was drying up and the only way to keep it going was to produce a full-length feature. Everything about this project was groundbreaking and despite everyone in Hollywood having prematurely buried his career, Walt ultimately proved them all wrong. In fact, legend has it Louis B. Mayer was so envious of Snow White's success, he fast-tracked production on The Wizard of Oz to ride its coattails.
* Where it all Began (11:48) -- An informal bed of creative genius, founded by a 24 year old man with nothing but a dream and an unlimited supply of passion. They were only at Hyperion for 10 years, but that decade saw so many breakthroughs, it advanced the industry and the art form by light years. In all honesty, many of tools still being used in animation (traditional or CG) today were pioneered at Hyperion.
* Family Business (1:57) -- Walt fostered an environment of camaraderie, collaboration, and creativity, a feeling that made it one of best studios to work for.
Story Room (Do you feel a breeze?)
* Babes in the Woods (8:04) -- Animator Andreas Deja introduces this 1932 Silly Symphony, which adapts the classic tale of "Hansel and Gretel," where the children are befriended and ultimately rescued by gnomes. I don't know if they punched up any of the shorts for this release, or if they're the same quality as the Walt Disney Treasures Collection, but for a film that's almost 80 years old, this thing looks amazing!
* In Walt's Words: The Huntsman (3:25) -- Director Ron Clements introduces an audio re-enactment compiling various story meetings about the introduction of The Huntsman, overlaying the actual film sequence as events unfold.
* Five bucks a gag (1:46) -- Incentives paid for anyone on staff who contributed visuals gags to Snow White.
* Gabby, Blabby, and Flabby (1:14) -- Naming the dwarfs.
* Stories from the Story Room (1:14) -- Includes a great story about Walt and the pushpin dartboard. He'll get schooled later.
* Abandoned Concepts Gallery -- 63 sketches of unused dwarf gags and the Queen's capture Prince Charming that bears a striking similarity to Prince Philip's imprisonment at the hands of Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty.
* Walt's Night Prowls (0:52) -- Like his parks, when the world went to sleep, Walt kept working.
* Storyboard Art Gallery -- The entire film told in 126 frames, using sketches from every facet of story development.
Music Room (Tic-Toc)
* The Music in Snow White (6:14) -- Composer Michael Giacchino is just one of the many talking heads to discuss the power of music in Walt's work, how it fed the narrative more than any other films of the time, and the genius of selling album soundtracks to keep the memory of the film alive.
* The Skeleton Dance (6:02) -- Director John Musker introduces the very first Silly Symphony (1929). A vintage Halloween classic! Color me ignorant for not knowing that legendary composer Carl Stalling partnered with Walt on these shorts. Carl would later go on to become the musical lifeblood of Warner Bros. animation.
* David Hand's Dirty Trick (1:18) -- Remember what I said about getting schooled? Never embarrass Walt in front of a crowd.
* Music Room Host (0:48) -- Ron Clements explains the complete integration of music into the Disney storytelling process.
Art Department (It's a bit dusty in here)
* Music Land (10:15) -- Art director Michael Giaimo discusses the influence of artist Albert Hurter in defining the visual styling of Snow White, as an introduction to this genius 1935 Silly Symphony. Playing off the "Romeo and Juliet" motif with much happier results.
* In Walt's Words: Cleaning the Cottage (7:03) -- Animator Eric Goldberg introduces another audio re-enactment using notes from various story meetings on one of the film's more memorable sequences.
* Creating the World of Snow White (6:53) -- Current Disney artists and historians discuss Snow White as breathing American life into a uniquely European fairy tale, through the eyes of Swiss inspirational artist Albert Hurter (character and props) and Swedish illustrator/painter Gustav Tenngren (environment, mood, and tone). Neither worked on another Disney animated feature beyond this one.
* The Idea Man (1:41) -- Remembering the art and eccentricities of Albert Hurter.
* Gustav Tenggren Art Gallery -- 16 beautifully rendered concept drawings for the story of Snow White.
* Visual Development Gallery -- 146 more fantastic drawings from Tenngren, Hurter, and the entire team.
Character Design (Movie sign!)
* In Walt's Words: The Dwarfs (5:49) -- Yet another audio re-enactment, this one focusing on story meetings surrounding the unique aspects of the individual dwarfs' personalities and physical characteristics. Yeah, these re-enactments are starting to bore me.
* Color Tests Gallery -- 12 color guides for Snow White and the Dwarfs.
* Character Design Gallery -- 5 finalized sketches of Snow, the Queen, the Prince, the Mirror, and the Dwarfs.
Background and Layout (All about the draping)
* Setting the Stage (4:04) -- Director Don Hahn takes us through a discussion of animation staging, using the actual artwork from Snow White. Interestingly enough, the camera is fixed and its the artwork that moves across the frame. A time capsule for an era long since abandoned.
* Layout Gallery -- 115 sketches depicting staging and camera movement for various scenes.
* Backgrounds Gallery -- 25 beautifully painted environmental backdrops for key scenes in the film.
Animation Department (Finding Nemo)
* Bringing Snow White to Life (11:33) -- Andreas Deja introduces us to the animators who taught Walt's famed Nine Old Men -- Bill Tytla the legend, Fred Moore the child genius, Norm Ferguson the vaudevillian, Grim Natwick the princess maker, Ham Luske the lord of the dance, Art Babbitt the villain maker. They also explore the early years of Frank Thomas, Marc Davis, Eric Larson, Les Clark, Milt Kahl, and Ward Kimball.
* Goddess of Spring (10:04) -- Director Andrew Stanton introduces this 1934 Silly Symphony to illustrate the studio's first serious attempt at animating effective human characters, and how much further they still needed to go. This is Disney's take on the tale of Persephone from Greek mythology, whose deal with her husband Hades only allows her to live in the surface world for a short time each year.
* Playful Pluto (8:09) -- Historian Paula Sigman introduces this 1934 short as an example of the studio's trademark personality animation.
* Blowing Off Steam (2:17) -- Work hard, play hard, and terrorize your co-workers. The incredible growing/shrinking turtle gag is the best story of the bunch.
* The Animators' Favorite Animators (2:00) -- Walt's Nine Old Men reminisce about their heroes.
* Animation Art Gallery -- 39 animation drawings from various stages of production, complete with notes and instructions.
Live Action Reference
* Live Action Host (0:50) -- Director John Musker gives a brief overview of the reference process and how the idea of rotoscoping (or tracing live performances) quickly fell away in favor of the animators discovering their own methods for bringing human characters to life.
* Giving Voice to Snow White (2:46) -- Adriana Caselotti shares her memories of the film's casting process and recording sessions.
* Drawing on Real Life (1:37) -- Snow White model Marge Champion and Wicked Queen model Don Brodie remember their moments in front of camera.
* Live Action Reference Gallery -- 23 photos from the reference shoots and three sketch interpretations from the wishing well scene.
* Sweatbox Host (0:53) -- Animator Eric Goldberg explains the origins of screening rough animation sequences and the legacy that still holds true today.
* Deleted Bedroom Fight Scene (2:26) -- Painful decisions to cut scenes is a necessary evil of the process, no matter how much work has gone into them. Voiced by new actors, this particular rough animated sequence sees Grumpy and Doc squaring off on whether or not Snow White should stay or go.
* Sweating it Out (1:09) -- Walt's attention to detail in every scene drove the staff crazy.
Ink and Paint (Push me -- Pull you)
* Flowers and Trees (8:31) -- Historian Paula Sigman intros this 1932 Silly Symphony, Walt's first technicolor cartoon and the first animated film to receive an Academy Award.
* Life in the Nunnery (1:59) -- The all-female corps of artists had their own class system, with inkers outweighing the painters. But the girls were not allowed to fraternize with the animators and vice/versa.
* The Challenges of Ink and Paint (1:41) -- Overt sexism at the Disney studio overshadowed the accomplishments of some incredibly talented women.
* Painted Cells Gallery -- 14 fully painted cells that don't show a bit of their 72 years.
* The Old Mill (9:06) -- Ron Clements introduces the innovative Multi-Plane camera and this 1937 Silly Symphony film on which it was first put into use. A stunning musical piece of atmosphere and one of the many legacies left to us by animation pioneer and Disney legend Ub Iwerks.
* Decoding the Exposure Sheet (6:47) -- Don Hahn teaches us about roadmapping heavy movement sequences through the creation of a powerful tool on one sheet of paper. Most people think of the intricacy of the artwork created for animation, but it's mind-boggling the level of technical work needed to make this film work. In fact, Don uncovers an additional note showing a reshoot order on this very scene mere days before Snow White's gala premiere.
* Stories from the Camera Department (2:04) -- The unbelievable tales of horror and triumph that surrounded the revolutionary multiplane camera.
Sound Stage (Chime in)
* Steamboat Willie (8:02) -- Eric Goldberg uses this 1928 classic to give perspective on how far sound recording for animation had progressed at the Disney Studios by the time Snow White was released.
* Walt's Early Masters of Sound (1:51) -- The genius of sound men Jimmy MacDonald and Bob Cook.
Walt's Office (Mr. Disney, there's a call for you on Line 4)
* Working with Walt (1:48) -- The infectious enthusiasm and vision of the team leader and head cheerleader.
* Publicity Gallery -- 19 photos from the Snow White premiere and 15 more shots of lobby cards and international movie posters.
* Production Photos Gallery -- 21 photos from in and around the Hyperion studios during the creation of Snow White.
The tour guide features on the Platinum Edition were impressive enough for DVD, but that Hyperion feature shoots to the top of heap for Blu-ray innovation. Take note Blu-ray producers!
Okay, moving on through the remaining materials, there's a mix of new, updated, and old stuff from the DVD release.
Disney Through the Decades (35:55) *Updated with new material,
stripping out a segment hosted by actor DB Sweeney
* Intro (1:27) -- John Ratzenberger intros this retrospective of the studio's history from The Alice Comedies through today.
* The 1930s (3:16) -- Roy Disney guides us through the creation of the big five -- Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy; the innovation and artistic advancement of The Silly Symphonies; the development and release of Snow White.
* Snow White 1937 trailer (0:31)
* The 1940s (2:47) -- Angela Lansbury continues the tale, following the success of Snow White; the studio move to Burbank; the development and release of Fantasia, Pinnochio, Dumbo; the implications of World War II; the development and release of Bambi; and the theatrical re-release of Snow White to bolster the studio's dwindling bank account.
* Snow White 1944 trailer (1:48)
* The 1950s (4:32) -- Fess Parker takes us through the live-action release of Treasure Island; the studio delving into the realm of television with The Mickey Mouse Club; the release of Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp; self-funding and distributing the True-Life Adventure series; the development of Disneyland and the supplemental television show to help fund it; the success of Davy Crockett, Zorro; the release of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Sleeping Beauty, and The Shaggy Dog.
* Snow White 1958 trailer (3:06)
* The 1960s (3:25) -- Robbie Benson brings a laid back approach to the hipster decade, which saw the release of The Absentminded Professor, Swiss Family Robinson, and The Parent Trap; cutting-edge Walt brings The Wonderful World of Color to a black & white television landscape; the Imagineers storm the 1964 World's Fair; the Academy Award-Winning release of Mary Poppins; designing Walt Disney World; the release of The Jungle Book and The Happiest Millionaire; and the heart-breaking loss of Walt to lung cancer.
* Snow White 1967 trailer (2:13)
* The 1970s (2:20) -- Dean Jones drives us through the decades via Herbie, The Love Bug; the 100,000,000th guest enters Disneyland, as Walt Disney World opens its doors a mere two months before the passing of its chief architect, Roy Disney; Kurt Russell becomes the face of Disney comedy with The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Strongest Man in the World, and Now You See Him, Now You Don't; Don Knotts and Tim Conway team up for The Apple Dumpling Gang; Jodie Foster solves the mystery of Candleshoe, while Tony and Tia Escape to Witch Mountain; Angela Lansbury takes flight with Bedknobs & Broomsticks and Pete's Dragon frightens the neighbors; and the animation team continues their winning streak with The Aristocats, Robin Hood, and The Rescuers.
* The 1980s (3:34) -- Jodi Benson ushers in the second golden age of Disney animation with The Little Mermaid; Disneyland celebrates its 25th Anniversary, Japan goes nuts for the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, and Walt Disney World spawns EPCOT Center, the Disney/MGM Studios, Pleasure Island, and a wealth of new resort properties; Walt Disney Home Video enables us to own our favorite films, while The Disney Channel beamed the magic right into our living rooms 24/7; live action goes adult with a Splash; Donald turns 50; Michael Eisner and Frank Wells take the helm; and the company goes to the mall with The Disney Store.
* Snow White 1987 trailer (1:22)
* The 1990s (4:01) -- Ming Na takes the good with the bad, as Disney expands a little beyond its grasp; introduction of Hollywood Records and Hyperion Publishing; Disneyland Paris opens amid much regional and financial controversy; the company invests in its own NHL franchise, The Mighty Ducks; animation highs included Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast, which later took Broadway by storm; Disney buys ABC and all its affiliates, while helping to revitalize NYC's Times Square, and open its own Broadway theatre with The Lion King; The Disney Magic and The Disney Wonder take to the seas; WDW gets an Animal Kingdom; and the animation juggernaut rolls on with Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and Fantasia 2000, but it was the introduction of Pixar and their release of Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Toy Story 2 which caught everyone by surprise.
* Snow White 1993 trailer (1:15)
* A New Century (4:17) -- John Ratzenberger takes us into the widescreen decade, as Disneyland gets a brother in Disney's California Adventure; the television empire grows with ABC Family; the animation train begins to falter with Atlantis and The Emperor's New Groove; Kingdom Hearts cuts a swath through the video game world; the Mouse partners with Studio Ghibli, introducing the masses to the animated magic of director Hayao Miyazaki; Pixar continues batting a thousand with Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up; Captain Jack Sparrow hijacks the box office with Pirates, Pirates, and more Pirates; and the teens rock the scene with High School Musical, Hannah Montana, and The Jonas Brothers.
* Snow White 2001 trailer (0:55)
Audio Commentary *From the Platinum Edition
Roy Disney intros historian John Canemaker who provides context for a fine selection of audio interview excerpts with Walt himself. Always the master storyteller, you never tire of hearing him share memories and motivations for the film and his team. Canemaker, on the other, is reading from a script and his monotone voice has a tendency to make you lose interest. Oh well. It's an interesting listen, nonetheless, more so for diehard Disneyphiles than the casual movie lover.
Deleted Scenes *Updated
Soup Eating (4:07) -- Rough pencils, full vocals, and musical underscore highlight this Ward Kimball dinner table sequence. Even Grumpy is won over by Snow's cooking skills, that is until she starts teaching them table manners. The real drama comes in trying to extricate a spoon from Dopey's stomach.
Bed Building (6:28) -- Sketches, rough pencil segments, full vocals, and a musical underscore showcase the boys' (minus Grumpy) plan to build Snow her very own, accurately sized bed. And while their craftsmanship is beyond reproach, they really didn't put much thought into where it was being built and how they'd get it into the house. Oops.
Snow White Returns (8:44) *New
Don Hahn takes us deep into the Disney Animation Research Library to reveal a mystery surrounding long-forgotten story sketches for a potential short film sequel to the original. Two of the sequences, designed by Ward Kimball, were developed for the feature film but cut for time during development. Adding music and voice over narration, Hahn gives life to these sketches and rough animation segments.
Animation Voice Talent (6:21) *Updated
A look back at assembling the cast for Snow White. Trivia: The prince was voiced by Dean Stockwell's (Battlestar Galactica) father Harry.
Sneak Peek: The Princess and The Frog (7:45) *New, obviously
Co-directors John Musker and Ron Clements introduce us to Disney's latest traditional animation feature, via the first six minutes of the film. Some of it's rough animation and other segments have not yet been colored, but it's definitely a return to classic Disney form.
Music Video (3:34) *New
"Some Day My Prince Will Come" by Tiffany Thornton
Disney Channel's newest musical princess (Demi Lovato's co-star in Sonny with a Chance) has a decent voice, but looks like a Carrie Underwood knockoff. The network may offer them great exposure, but these girls are starting to become interchangeable. Filmed at night in the Disney Legends courtyard on the Disney studio lot.
"Heigh-Ho" Karaoke *Updated
Your choice of a classic sing-along or the more bold karaoke.
Dopey's Wild Mine Ride *From the Platinum Edition
Keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times. Yeah, maybe not. An interactive set top game for your little ones. You are Dopey, faced with a myriad of challenges (trivia, comprehensive, retention, and outright guessing) to collect your fellow dwarfs and rescue Snow White. Meh. What sucks is, once you enter the game, the only way out is to finish it or quit BD playback. Bit of a design flaw there.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall *New
A six-question quiz to determine which Disney princess you are most attune with. When finished, you can enter your phone number and receive a personal phone call from your new inspirational friend.
What Do You See? *New
Test your powers of perception by recognizing 10 scrambled images for their true form. Play against the clock or other people for fabulous cash and prizes. Well, the last part is a lie, but it makes this thing sound more interesting.
Jewel Jumble *New
Help Grumpy collect jewels from the mine and group them together. It's basically a variation on Tetris and good for killing a good 10 or 15 minutes. You're going to get sick of the music real quick, though.
Scene Stealer *New
Stick the faces of you, your family, and your friends into a funkafied Snow White hip-hop music video and play it back to riotous laughter and applause. Not really. If you are truly freakin' bored and have absolutely nothing better to do, turn off the TV and go for a walk.
DVD Version *New
Yes, even if you don't currently own a Blu-ray player, you can purchase this release, watch the DVD, and have the BD on hand when that magic box becomes a part of your home theatre system.
Be prepared to wait for the system update and then be disappointed to discover the only thing here are marketing and promotional materials for current and upcoming releases to theatres and Disney Blu-ray. The one plus is that is does save disc space having all this stuff available online. Unlike the Sleeping Beauty (Blu-ray) release, the highly touted interactive features -- Movie Chat, Movie Mail, Movie Challenge, and Movie Rewards -- are nowhere to be found. I'll refrain from speaking ill of the dead.
So what's missing from this release? A lot of pieces from the Platinum release are woven into the various features here, whether it be in the Hyperion Studios or showcased in other segments. Of course, they stripped out any reference to deposed chairman Michael Eisner, and current chief Bob Iger makes no appearance, thus preventing this release from ever being "dated." Still, Disney completists should know the Diamond Blu-ray edition will not be considered definitive, as its missing these previously released bonus materials...
* The 39-minute, Angela Lansbury hosted documentary Still the Fairest of
Them All: The Making of Snow White
* "Vintage Audio" (50 min) -- Three radio broadcasts featuring Walt discussing the film, and a deleted song
* "Camera Tests" (13 min) -- Restoration head Scott MacQueen talks about analyzing the original print
* "Storyboard to Film Comparisons" (10 min) for four specific scenes
* "Tricks of Our Trade" (8 min) -- A segment from the Disneyland television show about the multiplane camera
* "Abandoned Concepts" (8 min) -- John Canemaker details three discarded sequences
* "The Restoration" (6 min) -- Lansbury talks about the painstaking cleanup done for DVD
* "Original RKO Credits" (2 min) -- Long before Disney had their own distribution company, they used RKO
* The Barbra Streisand music video for "Some Day My Prince Will Come"
* A text-based production "History"
Whew...I'm on Disney overload, so let's make this brief. If you are a Disney fan, a student of animation, or just love Snow White, the purchase of this release is no-brainer. Stop reading, click the "purchase now" button, and place your order. This is money well-spent. Hearty congratulations to the Disney Company for setting a new high water mark for Blu-ray releases. Keep up the great work!
Not the least bit guilty!
Review content copyright © 2009 Michael Stailey; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1937
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Hyperion Studio Tour
* Deleted Scenes
* Art Galleries
* Music Video
* Sneak Peek
* DVD Version