34 – Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Doc: Why, the whole place is clean.
Grumpy: There’s dirty work afoot
Seen before?

F: Yes a few times.

R: When I was young but not for a very long time.

Thoughts?

F: When I was a kid this film terrified me! Watching back now I can see why. There are some very dark elements such as when Snow White is running through the woods and the transformation of the queen. All quite creepy!

R: That early scene in the woods is beautifully done, and one of many points in the film where you can’t help be in awe of the quality of the animation. But alongside the scary stuff you also have some pretty boring moments. It felt like the stuff with the dwarves in the cottage lasted an eternity.

F: Agreed there were some lulls. But with seven dwarf characters then the film has to spend a considerable amount of time with them so they each establish an identity. Otherwise they merge into one.

R: Yeah, I just think they could be doing something more exciting. At the time I guess the animation alone would have been enough to delight the audience even when the plot slows down to do housework. It doesn’t help that some of the songs are a bit bland as well.

F: They’re certainly not Disney’s best songs. But the animation is the best thing about this film in my opinion. It’s very lifelike, especially Snow White herself. I also like how 2 of the 3 main characters here (if we count the dwarfs as one) are female and how the male characters support the story rather than are the focus (which sadly, hasn’t been that common in this list).

R: There’s no question the animation throughout is phenomenal. I’m just not convinced there’s much more here that justifies this film’s place on the list. Does the under-representation of women in all the other films we’ve seen mean we have to give this an automatic pass?

F: No not at all! I think we also need to remember this is based on a classic fairytale so they are fairly constrained with the plot. And it’s 80 years old and children today are still watching and enjoying it. That’s impressive!

R: But would kids today prefer to watch this over Frozen or Moana? While of course this has to be respected for being so pioneering, I’m not sure a film that has stretches of being quite dull should be the AFI’s highest rated children’s film.

F: Yes they probably would want to watch the more modern films but then you have to think about whether they would exist without films like Snow White leading the way. I don’t remember this being dull when I was a kid either – those scenes with the queen are very powerful and stayed with me and that overshadowed any of the unexciting parts.

R: Well, we’re judging this as adults, and scaring children is not particularly difficult! We said “no” to Intolerance because whilst it had its moments and is no doubt important, it is now quite dated and in stretches quite dull. Is there a compelling reason not to apply the same logic here?

Is it worthy of the top 100?

F: Yes. Watching this as an adult didn’t dent my childhood memories even though there were slow moments.

R: Sorry Snow White, you can go back to sleep. It’s a no from me.

Up next:
33 – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Previously:
35 – Annie Hall (1977)

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