Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Signature Collection
VM Victor Medina
Cinelinx takes a look at the new Signature Collection of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!
The Grimm fairy tale gets the original Disney treatment, in a classic film that has defied the years. Featuring the voices of Adriana Caselotti, Roy Atwell, Lucille La Verne, and Stuart Buchanan.
Directed by David Hand.
If you missed out on picking up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray when the Diamond Edition was released in 2009, you’ve had a long wait to see Disney’s original masterpiece at home. The new “Signature Collection” brings the 2009 high definition transfer back, along with some of the better special features from that release, and added a few new extras as well.
The film itself needs no real review, as it seems pointless to critique a film long considered a classic. Sure, one could find flaws with character development or structure, if one really needed to, but there’s no need to quibble with minor faults. Instead, the new Blu-ray allows the opportunity to gain a new appreciation for this animated masterwork. Rather than constantly playing to children’s expectations (like so many of today’s films do), Disney chose to inject Snow White with a mature, dramatic flair and a truly terrifying villain, counter-balanced with just enough signature Disney humor to make it palatable for kids.
Sure, Snow White and the Prince are a bit one-dimensional, but the scene-stealing dwarfs and the Evil Queen’s machinations propel the streamlined narrative and keep adults interested. Featuring incredible art design and timeless music (note the songs and score by Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, and Paul J. Smith), Snow White is a simple story so perfectly told, to this day, it remains immensely entertaining from start to finish.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs heralded a new era in entertainment, proving animation could be presented as a feature film, rather than shorts that played before the feature. It also blazed the way for films like The Wizard of Oz, which was greenlit for production after the success of Snow White. Few films since, however, can rival the level of artistic achievement of Walt’s first masterpiece.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
This new "Signature Edition" sports the same high-definition transfer from the 2009 release, but it is not without its issues. Clarity is fantastic, as one might imagine, but the use of bold color saturation may give many purists pause. Essentially, certain characters - most notably Snow White and the Evil Queen - have had their costume colors brightened to the point that they stand out significantly from the rest of the scene.
Whether or not this is a bad thing is essentially a matter of personal taste. Most viewers won’t mind, or likely, even notice. The brighter colors will appeal to kids, but purists would argue the colors are too bold for the rest of the film’s intended muted palette. The coloring is also inconsistent; from one shot to another, the colors vary in intensity. Again, it is only noticeable to those who really look for it. Overall, it detracts little from one’s enjoyment of the film.
The audio includes a 7.1 DTS-HDMA mix, which can be outstanding at times, but one must remember the original audio has some limitations, so expect the voices to sound “tinny” and shallow at times, even on a great sound system.
For this “Signature Collection” release, Disney brought over the best of the special features from the 2009 “Diamond Collection” Blu-ray release, and coupled them with a handful of solid new extras. The special features are as follows:
“In Walt’s Words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” featurette. Culled from a series of audio interviews conducted in 1956, the recollections of Walt Disney are collected in this featurette. It is incredibly interesting to hear Disney himself discuss the challenges of making his first feature, and you’ll wish it lasted longer. Running time: 4:22
“Iconography” featurette. Artists and Disney staffers discuss the iconic imagery of the film, and reinterpret it for modern times. Running time: 7:16
“@DisneyAnimaton: Designing Disney’s First Princess” featurette. Disney animators and art directors look over original concept art for Snow White and discuss how animators of the time were influenced by the culture of the time. Running time: 5:16
“The Fairest Facts of The All: 7 Things You May Not Know About Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” featurette. Actress Sofia Carson (Descendents) offers up trivia about the film. Running time: 4:37
“Snow White in Seventy Seconds” song. You know those embarrassing commercials from the 1980s were actors tried rapping to appear cool and sell you something? Well, apparently, that’s a thing again, because here, we get a kid who condenses the plot of Snow White into a rap song that is just over a minute long, and it is...well, it isn't good. At all. Running time: 72 seconds, actually.
Alternate Sequence: “The Prince Meets Snow White.” Using original storyboards and sketches, the original meeting of Prince Charming and Snow White is shown. It’s more involved than what you see in the final film, and it is enhanced with actors providing the unrecorded dialogue. We even get a “commentary” of sorts, as actors portraying Walt Disney and several animators use actual quotes from 1936-37 storyboard meeting transcripts to add their thoughts to the scene’s development. Running time: 3:39.
“Disney’s First Feature: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” featurette. This “Behind the Scenes” documentary is a fantastic look at the creation of the film, and includes extensive discussions about the travails Walt experienced in making the first feature-length animated film. It’s absolutely my favorite extra on the disc. Running time: 33:15.
“Bringing Snow White to Life” featurette. The artists and animators who gave Snow White her signature look and brought her to life are profiled here. That included animator Grim Natwick, the creator of Betty Boop, who worked with Disney and brought his understanding of animating a woman to the character of Snow White. Running time: 11:35.
“Hyperion Studios Tour” featurette. The early days of Disney’s animation studio, particularly during the production of Snow White, are covered. It is a fascinating watch, with former Disney employees providing some great stories. Recorded interviews and rare photos are presented. Running time: 30:36.
“Decoding the Exposure Sheet” featurette. The technical aspect of animating a scene, using an original “exposure sheet” used for a scene in Snow White. It is an excellent watch for animation wonks. Running time: 6:49
“Snow White Returns” featurette. Don Hahn (producer, Beauty and the Beast & The Lion King) hosts this featurette. Recently-discovered sketches from the Disney archives are shown, which hint that some Disney animators had planned an animated follow-up to the original Snow White, using at least two discarded scenes from the original film. Pretty cool stuff, actually. Running time: 8:44
“Story Meetings: The Dwarfs” featurette. Voice actors re-enact transcripts from original story meetings for Snow White, where Disney animators discuss how the different dwarfs will be characterized. Clips and original character sketches are shown. Running time: 5:51.
“Story Meetings: The Huntsman” featurette. Like the “Dwarfs” featurette, this featurette includes audio recreations from Disney animator story meetings, with this one focusing on the Huntsman. Running time: 3:55.
Deleted Scene: Soup-Eating Sequence. Rough pencil animation (and original audio tracks) of a deleted scene is presented here, offering a song sung by the dwarfs as they eat soup. It’s great fun, but one can understand how the scene’s length (over four minutes) would have slowed down the film’s pacing. Running time: 4:07.
Deleted Sequence: Bed Building Sequence. Like the “soup-eating” sequence, a deleted scene showing the dwarfs building a bed for Snow White is shown using the original rough animation, original storyboards, and a new audio track created from the original script. Running time: 6:28.
“Animation Voice Talent” featurette. Using classic interviews, this featurette explores the actors who brought the characters to life. This is worth watching just to briefly see Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, talk about her role. The story of how Lucille La Verne, the voice of the Evil Queen, created the voice of the witch, is fantastic. Running time: 6:20.
Audio Commentary. The fantastic audio commentary includes Roy E. Disney providing an introduction and Disney Historian John Canemaker discussing the film, and even includes snippets of archival recordings of Walt Disney discussing the film. Disney himself actually provides much of the commentary, making this a must-listen that will only grow your appreciation of the film.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital version of the film is included, which can be added to your Disney Movies Anywhere library, which, in turn, is compatible with digital video providers including Vudu and Amazon Video.
“DisneyView” feature. Since Snow White was filmed in the 4:3 aspect ratio (essentially a square image), Disney offers the option to “fill in” the black sides of your widescreen TV with artwork that fits what you see on screen. Some may find it distracting, but I give Disney credit for the effort.
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Running Time: 83 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Original Restored 2.0 Mono soundtrack, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Special Features: “In Walt’s Words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” featurette; “Iconography” featurette; “@DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney’s First Princess” featurette; “The Fairest Facts of Them All” featurette; “Snow White in 70 Seconds” song; Alternate Sequence: “The Prince Meets Snow White;” “Disney’s First Feature: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” documentary; “Bringing Snow White to Life” featurette; “Hyperion Studios Tour” documentary; “Decoding the Exposure Sheet” featurette; “Snow White Returns” featurette; “Story Meetings: The Dwarfs” featurette; “Story Meetings: The Huntsman” featurette; Deleted Scene: “Soup Eating Sequence;” Deleted Scene: “Bed Building Sequence;” “Animation Voice Talent” featurette, Digital Copy, DisneyView option.
Audio Commentary: Introduction by Roy Disney, with historian John Canemaker and archival recordings of Walt Disney
Label: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
A timeless classic gets a worthy Blu-ray treatment
Snow White, as Disney’s flagship film, gets a worthy treatment on Blu-ray, providing a great transfer along with a bevy of satisfying extras. It is a masterpiece worth adding to your collection.
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