Revisiting Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Updated: May 27, 2022
I can't remember the first Disney film I ever saw, but it doesn't matter. Disney movies and memorabilia have shaped my core memories.
When I was about one year old, my father took me to a Disney store in Puerto Rico. He purchased Happy the dwarf. I remember taking Happy to second-grade show and tell where girls teased me because he wasn't a Barbie or Build-A-Bear. I was embarrassed. I remember my siblings playing keep-away with Happy anytime they wanted to mess with me. I remember losing Happy in New York while on a family vacation when I was around 12. I cried the whole drive home because my dad refused to turn back to find him. I remember when Happy was sitting atop a mountain of pillows on my bed when I returned from school one day because my parents called where we were staying, asking them to look in the trash for an old raggedy toy. Happy has gone to Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut. Happy was the start of a life-long love of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I now have three complete sets of dwarfs, two partial sets of dwarfs, nine Snow White figurines, 7 Disney Pops, and other miscellaneous Disney memorabilia such as t-shirts, DVDs, posters, cups, and stuffed characters. Even my graduation caps for high school and college were Snow White themed. Despite my great love for Disney being based around Snow White, I haven't seen the movie in years.
I thought it would be interesting to watch the movie and share some thoughts. Rewatching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with 23 years of loving it, does it still hold up?
The square movie on my flat screen was jarring but a welcomed surprise. The credits were in the beginning, making me think I had accidentally forwarded to the end. I didn't remember a storybook text intro. Considering I recognized the characters by the time I was one, my parents must have read the words to me whenever I watched. Maybe the storybook helped me learn to read. I have zero memory of this storybook introduction, but I'm not surprised since text cards were common in early film.
Knowing Snow White is fourteen, it's astonishing she's introduced singing about wanting her true love despite there being no evidence she spends time with anyone other than woodland creatures. Unfortunately, her high-pitched voice was sometimes distracting. However, watching it as a child, my voice was probably just as high as hers.
The prince is thirty-one, which is just disturbing. The nameless prince is introduced on a white horse. He interrupts Snow White's song, sneaks up behind her, and claims he loves her without knowing her name. As a child, the prince was always so irrelevant to me. Now I know he was used as a dues ex Machina to save her, and maybe he's what officially started the prince charming archetype, but even Walt Disney didn't give him a name, thus deeming him insignificant.
The Dwarfs were adorable as always but lived as frat boys with a heightened sense of masculinity. They were surprised by cleanliness and even had to learn to wash up. They instantly succumbed to violence when they thought a bear was in their home, wanting to behead and chop it up. They only welcomed Snow White when she offered to cook but befriended her quickly. Despite their flaws, their natural comedic timing makes them endearing.
The overall vibe is very cottagecore. The colors, clothing, and design have a particular aesthetic that I've always loved and never attributed to Snow White before. I also never realized how much this movie had shaped my view of beauty and kindness. I remember wanting short hair like Snow White so that I could look like her regardless of our complexion disparity. Similarly, Snow White is portrayed as this innocent victim of the Queen's vanity, but she still maintains kindness to the dwarfs. Her kindness was quickly reciprocated, with even Grumpy eventually growing to like her. Yes, it was naïve kindness, but she also commanded respect from the dwarfs by making sure they cleaned themselves and displayed proper manners. For better or worse, this 1930's version of balance between kindness and confidence helped shape my personality.
Snow White may have been a movie of its time with a seventeen-year age gap and the perpetuation of outdated gender roles, but there are also hints of modernity. My guess is those hints are what make the movie so timeless and memorable. The film didn't have overtly catchy lyrics or a related TikTok trend, but it had lovable characters with a quirky musical score. It could be my bias, but I would say the movie still holds up and should be revisited more often.