Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this DVD courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment via Aussie Mummy Bloggers. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.
When I was a child, Disney movies were IT when it came to animated children's films. I have vivid memories of classics like Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, Pinocchio , Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats and so forth, drinking them all up with delight. I retained such a fondness for the Disney oeuvre that I went to see latter-day movies like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin as a young adult, dragging various unwilling boyfriends along with me to enjoy the show.
But of all the Disney classics, the one that, for me, became (and remained) The Iconic Disney Film was the 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Snow White in her buttercup-yellow dress with the high white collar and puffed red and blue sleeves is my mental image of The Disney Princess, the uber-Princess if you like.
Yet, astonishingly, this is one film I have neglected to share with my children, and which we (until recently) did not own. Partly this was just one of those inexplicable gaps, like my failure until recently to read any Ramona books to my big kids (honestly, where was my head?) Partly it was my memory that Snow White, like Sleeping Beauty, features a genuinely scary villain - the Queen, like Maleficent, is extremely frightening and effective. My kids can be a little bit sensitive when it comes to frightening elements in films, although they're rarely scared by the things you'd think are frightening (monsters, aliens, dinosaurs all OK!)
When a review opportunity came up via Aussie Mummy Bloggers, I thought - alright, it might be time to break the drought on this. The kids recently watched The Little Mermaid for the first time and coped well with scary-Ursula, so I thought it might be doable for them now.
So on Saturday night, we sat down with popcorn and drinks and watched Snow White as a family movie, all 5 of us. (My fine tradition of making male partners sit through Disney films remains unbroken ;-)
It's been literally twenty-five years since I last saw this film, and a few things surprised me about it. Firstly, I didn't remember how really, genuinely funny the seven dwarves are. Their slapstick is done in the best Disney tradition and it's no wonder they get the most screen time. All the kids (and even the man!) laughed and giggled through the dwarves' scenes.
Secondly, I had forgotten how appealing the older style of animation, with the watercolour-look backgrounds, can be. We're so used to modern animation with all its CG bells and whistles (and these days, increasingly, its 3D elements), but for all that, the artistry of this style of hand-drawn animation shines through, for kids as well as adults.
Thirdly, I had forgotten exactly how high-pitched and, um, trilling Snow White's voice is. My husband and I both winced a few times in the higher registers, although it didn't seem to trouble the kids any. I read somewhere recently that human voices are gradually moving to lower registers over time - which is why, for example, 18th century hymns and Christmas carols are so difficult for modern voices to sing properly. Snow White's voice, which was no doubt very attractive in its day, now, 80 years later, sounds shrill.
One thing I had not misremembered was how creepily effective the evil Queen is. My sweet, sensitive 7 year old was thoroughly scared by her, but didn't want to stop watching (the movie had her in its thrall by then!) The art of the villain is one that Disney perfected right at the get-go with their animated films.
All in all, it's not hard to see why Snow White is such an iconic film. My kids all loved it, and I think my husband was surprised by how much he enjoyed it. This special edition contains a great range of extras too and comes with both DVD and Blu-ray formats (we, being Luddite enough not to possess a Blu-ray player, watched it in DVD). It's a classic that everyone should watch at least once, and most kids will want to watch it more than once, I reckon.
If you would like to win a free copy of the Snow White DVD / Blu-ray, please leave your name in comments below by 5pm on Friday 22 April. I will use Random.Org to generate a winner on Saturday and will post the winner's name on Easter Sunday, so we can organise the delivery of the prize!
Here's a little bit for your perusal: