Monday, November 9, 2009

Snow White Sure Looks Good for Her Age

Full disclosure: I'm not precisely sure how old Snow White is. She's either 197, if you count her as born in 1812 when the Brothers Grimm published their version of her story. Or she's 72, if you count her as born in 1937 when Disney first released her feature movie. Or she's untold hundreds of years old, if you consider her origins in stories that date back to the Middle Ages.

In any case, those plump rosy cheeks and bouncy black curls certainly make her forever young and endlessly fascinating for the adoring-all-things-princess set.

I was fortunate enough to be offered a combo-pack of the newly-re-released Disney Snow White Diamond Edition, with all sorts of extra features. It is an incredible restoration job. The colors are intense, and the whole movie seems to glow from within. Watching it, I couldn't help but find myself constantly reminded of the astonishing skill and patience it took to make a feature-length cartoon at a moment in time when every single one of the roughly 1.5 million frames had to be hand-drawn and painted.

I love that the combo pack comes with both a traditional DVD and a Blu-ray disk. We don't have a blu-ray player yet, but I would imagine that at some point we will, so it is particularly nice to know that buying this set means that whatever technology you have, you can still watch the movie.

Daughter and I sat down to watch, and I have to say that there is a lot about this movie that is dark and terrifying. It is pretty clear that Disney, in focusing on a feature-length film, was thinking about appealing to an adult audience at least as much as a child one. The attention to detail is tremendous, while the Queen's death wish for Snow White is pretty graphic. Even so, my three-year-old was not as afraid as I would have thought. She watched, wide-eyed and entranced, as Snow White enchanted the forest animals with her singing. She danced when Snow White and the Dwarfs danced. She clapped with delight when the prince rescued her.

There are many additional features to this combo pack that I think will provide hours of entertainment for other days. In addition to watching the movie, there are Disney family play games, a sing-along, and some fascinating back story of the production of the movie.

Of course, I, in my geek-dom, wanted more, so I did a little digging around and found a reposting of this article from Popular Science Magazine, originally published in January 1938.

After a giant scan of the first page of the article, this site transcribes the whole thing, which provides a detailed and completely fascinating discussion of the process of making what was the very first feature-length cartoon ever produced. If you are a lover of the original movie, or if you vaguely recall it and want a reminder, definitely check out the lushly resorted Diamond Edition of Snow White. And if you are a person fascinated with technologies past, a constant asker of "How did they do that?" don't miss the Popular Science article. Either way, it's a wonderful dose of an old classic that is only looking better with time.