Sunday, September 28, 2014

Snow White: a Tale of Hope

When the fairy tale “Snow White” was adapted into Walt Disney’s feature length film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, there were some aspects of the story that were altered while still remaining consistent to the original tale.

The Disney movie begins with Snow White singing as she cleans the steps of the castle, as her stepmother has made her work as a scullery maid. This is different from the Grimms' tale, which does not feature this Cinderella-like motif. Snow White seems to be an orphan in the movie, while in the story her father is mentioned in the beginning. 

Another difference is that Snow White is not portrayed as a seven-year-old child as in the fairy tale, but as a young woman of marriageable age. This is in part due to the fact that Disney introduced the element of romance to his film. 
No one wanted to see an unknown man suddenly show up in the story and cart the beautiful princess away, and then marry her. Instead, the prince was added in the beginning of the movie as well, and Snow White was shown to fall in love with him. The Disney movie was made during the Depression, a time in which many people needed something to hope for. While Snow White sang about wishing for her prince, the viewers would hope with her, and also hope that a savior would come to rescue them from their difficulties as well. The idea of the prince being viewed as the the hero who puts everything right is also Disney's way of putting himself into the story. He gave very little credit to his animators, and made sure everyone knew that this was his movie by putting his name in large letters across the screen.

In both versions, the stepmother becomes even more jealous of Snow White's beauty, and orders the Huntsman to kill the girl. Snow White is spared by the Huntsman's kindness due to her innocence, and she flees into the forest, and eventually finds the house of the seven dwarves.

Another way the movie deviated from the book is that the creators gave personalities and names to the seven dwarves. In the film, dwarves were made into main characters just like Snow White and played just as important roles in the plot. Giving credence to this idea is the fact that while the Grimms’ story is called “Snow White”, the Disney version is entitled, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” Also, the dwarves in the original story keep a very clean and neat cottage, while the dwarves of the movie have a dirty house, and are suspicious of baths. This made them more endearing to viewers, who laughed at their antics as they tried to clean themselves up for dinner. 

In both the story and the movie, however, Snow White agrees to cook and clean for the dwarves in exchange for being allowed to stay at the cottage. At the same time, the hard work of both the dwarves and Snow White demonstrated to those during the Depression that eventually hard work does pay off, and there will be a bright tomorrow for everyone.

The queen eventually finds out that Snow White is still alive in both versions, and disguises herself to go to the cottage of the dwarves. Something that the movie and original story both have in common is that Snow White is poisoned by an apple given to her by her evil stepmother. However, the movie does omit the queen’s previous attempts to kill the princess using stay-laces and a poisoned comb.
Instead of the queen dying at the wedding wearing red-hot iron shoes, the seven dwarves chase her onto a cliff, which breaks off. The evil queen falls to her death, out of sight of the viewers, making it more child-friendly.

Both stories have Snow White placed into a glass coffin until her prince comes. Disney romanticizes the tale here yet again, by having Snow White revived when the prince kisses her, instead of it occurring by accident as it does in the original tale.

A major difference from the book is the fact that there is music and singing. There is no mention of singing in the original story, but the movie is full of songs. Snow White sings while scrubbing the steps of the castle, while lost in the woods, while cleaning the dwarves’ house, etc. Even the dwarves sing a working song as they cheerfully go about their work.

While there are many similarities between the Grimm and Disney versions of Snow White, Walt Disney ultimately created a more child-friendly, light hearted film that would cheer up the people living during the Depression, and many others over the years.

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