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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
The Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) movie poster Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Theatrical Release: December 21, 1937 / Running Time: 83 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: David Hand / Writers: Ted Sears, Richard Creedon, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank, Webb Smith (story adaptation); Wilhelm & Jacob Grimm (fairy tales)

Voice Cast (uncredited): Adriana Caselotti (Snow White), Lucille LaVerne (The Queen/Old Peddler Woman), Pinto Colvig (Sleepy, Grumpy), Billy Gilbert (Sneezy), Otis Harlan (Happy), Scotty Mattraw (Bashful), Roy Atwell (Doc), Eddie Collins (Dopey), Harry Stockwell (The Prince), Stuart Buchanan (The Huntsman), Moroni Olsen (The Magic Mirror)

Songs: "I'm Wishing/One Song," "With a Smile and a Song," "Whistle While You Work," "Heigh-Ho", "Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum (The Washing Song)", "The Silly Song," "Someday My Prince Will Come"

Buy Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from Amazon.com:
Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • Instant Video with Bonus Features • Instant Video
Past Editions: 2001 Platinum Edition DVD • 2009 Diamond Edition Blu-ray + DVD • 2009 Collector's Edition Blu-ray + DVD + Book

DisneyBound creator Leslie Kay and friends wear outfits inspired by Snow White in "Iconography." Mark Henn and art directors admire the film in "@DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney's First Princess."

BONUS FEATURES

Having been treated to loaded editions on DVD in 2001 and Blu-ray in 2009, there was little chance that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would not disappoint
completists expecting to get all the bonus features previously assembled and more. This Blu-ray makes an effort to recycle many, but far from all past supplements, while focusing its efforts and back cover space instead on some newly-produced materials.

The extras begin with "In Walt's Words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (4:22), which sets Walt's retrospective remarks from 1955 on his first animated feature to fitting visuals from the premiere, the Oscars and the movie itself.

Next up come four newly-created extras.

"Iconography" (7:16) pops in on artists and authorities in and outside of Disney, from DisneyBound blog creator Leslie Kay to LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya to Disney art director Brittney Lee, who cite the film and its iconic images as an influence on their work. Its connection to the film is tenuous but at least it shows creativity to cover new ground.

"@DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney's First Princess" (5:16) adds to the growing line of featurettes in which modern Disney animators voice admiration for what their forebears did. Veteran character animator Mark Henn and art directors Michael Giaimo, Lorelay Bové, and Bill Schwab marvel at concept art and live-action reference footage that shaped the film.

"Descendants" star Sofia Carson dishes seven things you may or may not know about "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." This girl tells the story of "Snow White" in a 70-second rap.

Despite its impossibly long title, "The Fairest Facts of Them All: 7 Things You May Not Know About Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" runs just 4 minutes and 37 seconds. In it, Sofia Carson of Disney Channel's Descendants swiftly and colorfully dispenses a septet of fun facts regarding Disney's first animated feature. While animation buffs will know most of this, the youngsters this is aimed at will not and may not mind the plugs for modern Disney flicks.

"Snow White in Seventy Seconds" (1:12) lets a young unidentified African American girl rap the film's story amidst imagery from it. It's one for the kiddos.

We now move on to stuff that owners of the movie's first Blu-ray will recognize.

"Alternate Sequence: The Prince Meets Snow White" (3:39) uses concept art and a Walt Disney impersonator to recreate a sequence conceived for but cut from the film.

Walt and his animators look over Snow White storyboards in "Disney's First Feature." Hamilton Luske is among those animated celebrated in "Bringing Snow White to Life."

The set's longest video-based extra, "Disney's First Feature: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (33:15), is a thorough making-of retrospective produced for the 2009 Blu-ray. Then-new comments from historians and animators are complemented by a host of archival remarks and fitting visuals. It acknowledges the people who made the movie and celebrates the film's visual and musical achievements, its daring unprecedented reception, its warm initial reception, and its enduring legacy.

"Bringing Snow White to Life" (11:35) celebrates character animators who made key contributions to the film and inspired Walt's famed Nine Old Men (then young men): Vladmyr "Bill" Tytla, Freddie Moore, Norm Ferguson, Grim Natwick, and Hamilton Luske.

Veteran Disney producer Don Hahn decodes the exposure sheet for us. A re-enactment of a story meeting gives us insight into the dwarfs' depictions.

"Hyperion Studios Tour" (30:36) culls the archives to show us around the birthplace of Disney Animation, with modern animation filmmakers Andrew Stanton, Ron Clements, John Musker and Eric Goldberg popping up in period garb
to elaborate on this old material that paints a picture of the creative processes developed on Snow White. Scattered about on the previous Blu-ray, getting edited together here makes for a smoother presentation.

"Decoding the Exposure Sheet" (6:49) finds Don Hahn looking at and making sense one scene's exposure sheet from the camera department which details the action intended and camera moves needed to bring it to life.

"Snow White Returns" (8:44) lets Hahn explore documents found in Disney's Animation Research Library to contemplate plans and drawings for a potential follow-up short to the film that would have made use of the two deleted scenes presented in full later.

Re-enactments of years' worth of story meetings from transcriptions are presented over the two scenes to which they apply: "The Dwarfs" (5:51) and "The Huntsman" (3:55). Speakers are identified by onscreen captions. It's a nifty way of feeling like you're there during this historic production, hearing the crew discuss character and location designs and movements.

The dwarves build a bed for Snow White in this deleted sequence. Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, reflects on her biggest contribution to cinema in an archival interview featured in 2001's "Animation Voice Talent."

Two well-known deleted scenes are presented in a mix of pencil animation and storyboards: a Soup Eating Sequence (4:07) and a Bed Building Sequence (6:28). In the first, Snow White teaches the uncouth dwarves how to eat soup like gentlemen.
In the second, the dwarves build a bed for Snow White. It's pretty amazing that such substantial bits have survived, considering how many films and deleted scenes have been lost over the years.

"Animation Voice Talent" (6:20), clearly produced back in 2001 and still in standard definition (the only SD feature in the bunch), tells us about the performers who voiced the film's characters with help from historians and archival clips, including Adriana Caselotti, Snow White's voice.

The extras draw to a close with the 2001 audio commentary introduced by Roy E. Disney but conducted primarily by animation historian John Canemaker, whose scholarly observations are complemented by a liberal use of recordings of Walt himself. As you'd expect, Canemaker is a fountain of information about everyone who worked on or inspired the film. Still, they are less arresting than Walt's own personal reflections, which touch upon everything from features being an inevitable destination from short subjects for business purposes, The Three Little Pigs and its forgotten sequels, and Charlie Chaplin's role in getting the film booked in theaters at a fair price. It may be nearly 15 years old, but this track has lasting value.

If you thought that the Signature Collection would right the wrongs that DVD viewers have been subjected to, you are mistaken. The new DVD includes just two meager bonus features: the deleted Soup Eating and Bed Building sequence. Better than nothing, I suppose. Disney has basically gotten out of the catalogue DVD business, even for perennial draws like this. Should you also want to cut some slack and say that additional extras were left off the DVD to maximize the quality of the feature, well know then that the disc is far from dual-layered capacity. Fine leaving some money on the table, Disney isn't even bothering to sell that lightweight new DVD edition on its own.

WHAT'S MISSING?

Just about all of the 2001 Platinum Edition DVD's extras have failed to make the cut here. In addition, a number of the Diamond Edition bonus features have been combined or truncated. In short, completists will not want to give away or sell their old Snow White sets.

Casualties include: the 42-minute documentary "Disney Through the Decades" (produced in 2001, but updated in 2009) with Snow White trailers from over the years, a number of art galleries (including Visual Development, Character Design, Background and Layout, and Abandoned Concepts); the influential and significant shorts The Skeleton Dance (1929), Flowers and Trees (1932), Babes in the Woods (1932), Music Land (1935), Goddess of Spring (1934), Playful Pluto (1934), and The Old Mill (1937), a "Heigh-Ho" sing-along, "Dopey's Wild Mine Ride" and four other Family Play set-top games ("Mirror Mirror on the Wall", "What Do You See?", "Jewel Jumble", and "Scene Stealer"), two storyboard-to-film comparisons from the Platinum Edition, music videos for "Someday My Prince Will Come" covers by Barbra Streisand (2001) and Tiffany Thornton (2009).
Things that failed to make the leap from Platinum to Diamond, like camera tests, live-action reference footage, an alternate version of "Someday My Prince Will Come," L.A. premiere footage, and archival audio, unsurprisingly fail to rematerialize here.

Some of this loss reflects Disney and the industry moving away from interactive and text-based bonus features. Others are simply the product of the Diamond Edition having two Blu-rays compared to this edition's one. The odds are anyone serious enough about Snow White to mind missing extras most likely already has one or both of this century's loaded releases on their shelves. Still, for those like me who missed out on the Diamond Edition, the absence of those seven vintage short films in HD is pretty significant.

The Magic Mirror appears in a brushstroke on the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Signature Collection DVD main menu.

MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The tasteful menu plays painterly clips within a stroke of a brush.

The discs open with a Disney Movies Anywhere promo followed by trailers for Zootopia and The Good Dinosaur. The Sneak Peeks listing runs ads for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Store, and Disney Parks, before repeating those same two trailers.

Topped by an extensively embossed slipcover, the slim, side-snapped keepcase holds a Disney Movie Club ad and a Disney Movies Anywhere/Disney Movie Rewards insert alongside the plain white and blue discs. Booklets will clearly not be a feature of this line, nor will teasing the next entries in the series (though repeatedly, Beauty and the Beast has followed Snow White). It is worth noting that Disney has stepped out of their Platinum and Diamond Edition comfort zone of character collages and blue backgrounds to deliver cover art that is sleek and decidedly different. We'll see if others in the series follow the lead of this understated design.

Everybody dance now! Snow White and the seven dwarfs get jiggy with it.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You should already have an opinion on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Mine is that although it hasn't aged quite as magnificently as some of its successors, it still holds up on both historical significance and genuine entertainment value to deserve its masterpiece status.

Deciding to purchase the film in its latest edition mainly comes down to your views on physical media and Disney's newest line for its animated crown jewels. Some worthwhile new bonus features are provided here, but the previous Blu-ray left little room for improvement in the feature presentation department. Does your collection need a third copy of a film that doesn't have the most extraordinary replay value? That's up to you.

Buy Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from Amazon.com:
Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / Instant Video with Bonus Features
Past Editions: 2001 Platinum DVD • 2009 Diamond Blu-ray + DVD • 2009 Collector's Blu-ray + DVD + Book

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Past Releases of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: 2009 Diamond Edition Blu-ray • 2001 Platinum Edition DVD
Disney Animated Classics on Blu-ray: Fantasia • Bambi • Dumbo
Disney Princesses on Blu-ray: Tangled • Frozen • The Princess and the Frog • Pocahontas

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Reviewed January 30, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1937 RKO Radio Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, and 2016 Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
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