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Legacy Review

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

If narrative momentum is your thing, whatsoever, then Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a bit of a slog to get through. The movie spends legitimately more than half of its runtime just vibing with the Snow White and the dwarfs as they mine, clean the house, eat dinner, dance, and get ready for bed one night. And that time isn’t really spent on character development; it’s a bunch of set pieces and gags.

Thankfully, the dwarfs are masterpieces of character design and animation, a joy to spend all that time with. (My two-year-old was absolutely smitten with Dopey and pretended to be him the rest of the night.) Snow White, on the other hand, is oddly bland and featureless, like her face is tissue paper. Her character development is no better. But she’s well-animated, and her Technicolor dress is perfection.

The movie really escalates in the final twenty minutes, starting from the Queen’s transformation. Some of these segments are nightmare fuel, and nearly all of them are gripping. The loud-quiet cross-cutting between the panicked dwarfs and Snow White meeting the queen, in particular, is transcendent.

Snow White is a cultural touchstone, a turning point in film history. Visually, it approaches perfection. I never get tired of the background watercolors or the living storybook mise en scenes. It’s just a shame the script and heroine don’t excite me more for most of the runtime.

Is It Good?

Exceptionally Good (7/8)

Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.


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