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Disney's Platinum Edition DVDs: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King Aladdin Bambi Cinderella Lady and the Tramp The Little Mermaid
Peter Pan The Jungle Book 101 Dalmatians Sleeping Beauty Pinocchio

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Platinum Edition DVD Review

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs movie poster Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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

Director: David Hand

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

Songs: "Magic Mirror", "I'm Wishing", "Heigh-Ho", "Whistle While You Work", "There's Trouble A-Brewin'", "It's a Girl", "Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum", "Some Day My Prince Will Come", "Have a Bite", "Love's First Kiss"

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Review by Jason Seiver

As all know, in the 1930s, the world was very different than it is today. One of the differences back then was animation being limited to cartoon shorts that played before a live-action feature, for the idea of a full-length animated movie was viewed as absurd.
However, Walt Disney realized that in order for his own animation studio to reach its full potential, he would have to take a daring step into the realm of feature-length production. In doing so, he not only allowed his productions to grow, but virtually created a new genre, and changed the motion picture industry permanently.

It's daunting to try and describe all the ways how Disney's very first animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was so significant and important. It expanded the art form's horizons in so many ways. But aside from everything it represents, the film itself proves to be an excellently crafted one. The storytelling is focused and the editing is tight. The characters are so well-defined, at hearing their name you could instantly remember their personality. All of this is especially amazing considering what a giant leap it was from the cartoon shorts.

The title card for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", Walt Disney's first full-length animated movie.

So much of what is considered granted for an animated movie today was literally invented in Snow White - the consistently superb musical numbers, the incredibly lush and detailed art-work, and the mix of a serious plot with some lighthearted comic relief. To put it simply: none of the animated films we have today would exist without the barrier-breaking success of "The One that Started it All".

What better film than this could be chosen for starting off new line of 2-Disc Disney DVDs? Snow White is the first of the well-known Platinum Editions, released in October 2001, raising the bar high for the rest of titles in this collection. Both of its discs are held in an alpha case, which is almost double the thickness of the now standard amaray cases. Inside, a 12-page insert keeps an introduction from Roy E. Disney, a chapter listing, a layout and lengthy description of the numerous bonus features, and even a look at the making of the DVD all this whets the appetite for what the packaging describes as an "immersive experience."

Buy Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on DVD from Amazon.com Marketplace 2001 Platinum Edition DVD Details

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio (Fullscreen)
Dolby Digital Mono & 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Release Date: October 9, 2001
Two Single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Black Double Alpha Keepcase
THX-Certified
Out of Print
Re-released to DVD and Debuted on Blu-ray in 2009: Review

Disc 1: The Feature & Bonus Material

The beginning of this disc places us deep inside the Queen's castle. Her Magic Mirror greets us, unveiling the menu options, and explains what each one will provide for you.

The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:33.1. During my first viewing of the movie, upon seeing the opening shot I literally almost gasped. The transfer is so free of dirt and degeneration and full of vibrant and pristine color. Honestly, if I didn't know a thing about this movie, and watched it on this DVD, I would never guess it was approaching 70 years old. The restoration has been done shockingly well, and I commend all who are behind it.

The option is given of the film's original mono track (bravo) or Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Both tracks are very clear, strong, and relatively natural. I've listened to bits of both to compare them, and there is nothing drastic about the 5.1 track. There isn't a great deal of sound spreading into the back speakers, as most of it comes from the 3 front channels. I have to echo my previous comments about the caliber of the restoration: it certainly doesn't sound as old as it is.

While most of the bonus materials are found on Disc 2, there are quite a few residing on Disc 1, the first of them being a feature-length audio commentary. Similar to one found on Fantasia's DVD, this track strings together various comments Walt Disney made on Snow White throughout the years, and is hosted by Roy Disney. As you may expect, it's not very scene-specific, but it is certainly a gem for those who are fans of commentaries.

'The Goddess of Spring' Short Snow White: Still The Fairest of Them All Einster lyes...and introduces a Barbra Streisand music video

"The Goddess of Spring" (9:43) is a Silly Symphony cartoon, in which Disney artists took advantage of the subject matter to experiment with drawing the human form more realistically in preparation for Snow White.
While watching this mythological tale of the origins of the seasons, it's obvious that the animators were improving in their drawings of people, but the Snow is still leaps and bounds ahead of what is found in this short.

Angela Lansbury narrates the documentary "Still the Fairest of Them All: The Making of Snow White" (38:52), which begins with a brief history about how the Walt Disney Studios came into being, and goes on to entail the origins and painstaking process of bringing the film to the screen. Included are perspectives from Snow White animators Ward Kimball, Ken Anderson, Jimmy MacDonald, Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, animation historians Rudy Behlmer, John Canemaker, Paula Sigman, and new Disney artists Don Hahn, Andreas Deja, and Mike Gabriel. This is a very well-put-together feature that includes vintage footage from the making of the movie, and is highly educational yet fun to watch at the same time.

In the now common practice of including new music videos on Disney DVDs, a more adult video is found here: Barbra Streisand's "Some Day My Price Will Come" (4:03). Introduced by everyone's favorite CEO, Michael Eisner, it includes clips from the movie while Barbra sings the song (like butta). I think most would enjoy this more than the teenager-aimed fare on more recent DVDs, but personally, I'm not a big fan of Babs' rendition. The video plays automatically after watching Snow White, and can be accessed via the "Bonus Features" menu as well.

"Dopey's Wild Mine Ride" is a traditional Disney set-top game that combines relatively simple trivia about the movie and riddles. Each time a question or activity is correctly solved, Dopey is allowed to ride further into the jewel mine to find all 7 dwarfs and eventually save Snow White. This is one of the better set-top games I've played while it panders to kids, it doesn't become ridiculously easy and is pretty amusing.

A Sing-Along Song for the "Heigh-Ho" movie segment allows the viewer to view the lyrics to the song as the clip plays with the original vocals. In addition, a karaoke version is offered with music-only audio.

Think that's all? Guess again. "V.I.P. Guided Tours" is a section for newcomers to the DVD format or those who would just like an overview of what the set has to offer. After Roy E. Disney introduces the supplement, you are given the choice of a "Disc 1 Tour" (20:58) or a "Disc 2 Tour" (2:55). Both are hosted by Angela Lansbury, who offers actual samplings of the bonuses on Disc 1 and gives a short run-over of Disc 2. The one complaint I have about this feature is that once the first tour ends, it immediately begins the "Wild Mine Ride" game, and forces the viewer to go through different menus to get back to the option of viewing the second tour. Just a little nit-pick in an otherwise wonderful disc.

Disc 2's Main Menu supplies a handful of graphic destination choices.

Disc 2: Bonus Material

Once Walt Disney summons him, Magic Mirror appears once again, giving us a huge map of Snow White's kingdom with options to visit different areas. Each area contains different special features (there is no repeated listings of features like on The Lion King's DVD menus). If the viewer would rather just have a complete listing of all the material, there is a separate menu for this. However, I'll be reviewing the material via the various environments of Snow White's kingdom, each of which has a cool 3-D menu.

The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Storyboard-to-Film Comparison

"Snow White's Wishing Well" The Beginnings of Snow White

History is comprised of text-based features: a "Walt Disney Biographical Timeline", a "Snow White Production Timeline", and the Brothers Grimm fairy tale the movie was based on. The timelines go into a little more detail than the documentary on Disc 1, and I applaud Disney for including the original Snow White story.

Storyboard to Film Comparisons (9:20) of 4 scenes ("The Forest Chase", "Cleaning House", "The Dwarfs Chase the Queen", "The Queen's Order") are introduced by John Canemaker. The angle button can be used to flip between the storyboard and the final scene, or to see both of them side by side.

Restoration Featurette

"The Queen's Dungeon" Magic & Things Lost and Abandoned

Abandoned Concepts (8:00) gives us John Canemaker's insight on why certain pieces were deleted, and then provides them in full: "Snow White Meets the Price" (a much more comic version of the scene in the movie), "Some Day My Price Will Come Fantasy Version" (Snow White daydreaming while she sings her song), and "The Prince is Captured" (The Queen gets her hands on Snow's beau, but he finds a way to escape like Errol Flynn).

"The Restoration" (5:15) is a featurette on prepping the film for its DVD release, once again narrated by Angela Lansbury, and talks with the wizards behind all this about what went into restoring both the video and the audio.

Visual Development Galleries

"The Queen's Castle" A Fortress of Artwork Galore

Largely stills-based, this section holds humongous galleries filled with over 480 stills (take that, Alice in Wonderland). They are accessed by stepping into the virtual hallways and corridors of the castle, and offers a guided tour with audio commentary on select images, indicated by a little red apple.

John Canemaker gives a brief introduction about "Art and Design", and then we are treated to the vast Visual Development Gallery, overflowing with paintings and storyboards.
Next up is Layouts and Backgrounds Gallery, and is again accompanied by Canemaker's short perspective.

Camera and Tests gives two snippets from episodes of the "Disneyland" TV show that pertain to the multiplane camera used to create depth on the film: one from "The Story of the Silly Symphony" (1:30), another from "Tricks of Our Trade" (7:40). "Camera Tests" (12:10) is a featurette hosted by manager of Disney film restoration Scott MacQueen, who comments on the individual tests done to determine the look of certain movie scenes.

Animation contains a "Voice Talent" featurette (6:20) on the people behind the voices of the characters, and another brief documentary on "Live Action Reference" (6:45), in which footage of performances animation was based on is shown with a commentary by Scott MacQueen. Once again, an excerpt from the Disneyland TV episode "Tricks of Our Trade" (4:00) is offered, this one about live action reference. The last gallery (but not least) is Character Design, bringing us art development for Snow White, The Seven Dwarfs, The Queen, The Peddler, The Huntsman, The Prince, and The Animals.

Deleted Scene: Music In Your Soup Disney Through the Decades Featurette Menu

"The Dwarf's Mine" - A Cavern of Rare Gems

Deleted Scenes (13:47) holds segments with a small intro from Canemaker: "The Witch at the Cauldron" (Fully-completed animation snipped from the scene where the poison apple is created), "The Dwarfs' Bedroom Argument" (Grumpy and Doc have a clash of opinion soon after meeting Snow White), "Music in Your Soup" (A musical number set during dinnertime with Snow White), "The Lodge Meeting" (The dwarfs try to come up with a present to give Snow White), and "Building a Bed" (A laugh inducing scene that focuses on Dopey as the dwarfs build Snow White a bed).

"Original RKO Opening and End Credits" (1:30) shows what its title indicates, as Scott MacQueen tells how Disney removed RKO's name once his film distribution changed.

One of my favorite documentaries on this set is "Disney Through the Decades" (40:00), a fun, nostalgic trip from the 1930s to the 2000s. Roy Disney, Angela Lansbury, Fess Parker, Robby Benson, Dean Jones, Jodi Benson, Ming-Na, and DB Sweeney act as hosts, giving an overview of the Disney events in each decade, including the numerous releases of Snow White. While it never gets too in-depth, it's a very enjoyable feature that I find re-watchable. The trailers for the re-releases of Snow White per decade are found alongside the documentary.

Costumed Dwarfs make an appearance at Snow White's Premiere.

"The Dwarf's Cottage" A House-Full of Material From Snow White's Releases

The Premiere boasts a "Los Angeles Premiere" newsreel of sorts (1:10), with appearances by various celebrities and Walt Disney, and the "Original Premiere Radio Broadcast" (30:00) that features interviews with those at the premiere and some audio from the film itself.

The Trailers subdivision repeats those that were presented alongside "Disney Through the Decades": 8 trailers from 1937, 1944, 1958, 1967, 1987, 1993, and 2001.

In Publicity, a virtual scrapbook has 60 promotional images broken down into:
"The Premiere," "Pressbook," "Production Photos," "Merchandise," and "Posters". Scott MacQueen introduces "A Trip Through Walt Disney Studios" (11:00) and "How Disney Cartoons Are Made" (8:55). They are 2 featurettes that are essentially the same footage, with the first being more straightforward for presentation to exhibitors, and the second being more sugar-coated for promotional uses.

Last but certainly not least, Vintage Audio presents several audio-only materials. There are 3 radio broadcasts: 2 from the Lux Radio Theater (8:00) in which Walt talks about Mickey Mouse and the making of Snow White, and the movie promo piece "Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air" (28:30) which features Walt and voices of several Disney characters, some from Snow White. The "Silly Song Recording Session" (3:13) and deleted song "You're Never Too Old to Be Young" (3:17) are both introduced by audio technician Terry Porter. The latter sounds fairly similar to the first, containing yodeling and a familiar melody.

Again, I have one nit-pick: during all audio segments, there is a single still frame projected on the TV screen. Reportedly this can cause screen image burnout, so I suggest turning the TV off while listening to these materials that round out Disc 2.

Snow White holds a blue bird in her hands.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is my choice for the best 2-Disc DVD Disney has ever released. It is jam-packed with material that covers every nook and cranny of the production of the movie and other subjects relating to it. It is by far the best of the Platinum Editions, and is likely to remain so. Although it went out of print in January 2002, there are still places to find it. So if you have the opportunity to do so, not only I, but probably every viewer of this DVD, would recommend it instantly.

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Buy 2009 Editions: Blu-ray + DVD (with Book, Plushes, Collector's Set) / 2-Disc DVD

Related Reviews:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Diamond Edition Blu-ray & DVD)
Pinocchio (1940) Fantasia (1940, The Fantasia Anthology) Dumbo (1941) Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities
Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Walt Disney Treasures: More Silly Symphonies
Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color Disney Princess Stories: Volume Two - Tales of Friendship

Platinum Editions:
Bambi (1942) Cinderella (1950) Sleeping Beauty (1959) Peter Pan (1953)
Lady and the Tramp (1955) 101 Dalmatians (1961) The Jungle Book (1967)
The Little Mermaid (1989) Beauty and the Beast (1991) Aladdin (1992) The Lion King (1994)

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Reviewed February 3, 2004.