Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Deluxe Two Disc Set) (1937)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Making Of-Still The Fairest Of Them All-The Making Of Snow White...
Audio Commentary-Walt Disney & John Canemaker (Animation Historian)
Game-Dopey's Wild Mine Ride
Music Video-Some Day My Prince Will Come-Barbra Streisand
Notes-Walt Disney Timeline;Snow White Timeline;Original Fairy Tale
Multiple Angles-Storyboard Comparisons (4 x 3 angles) with introduction
Featurette-Art And Design; About Layouts And Backgrounds
Gallery-Visual Dev, Layouts & BGs, Char Designs, Scrapbook (5)
Featurette-Excerpts from Story Of Silly Symphony; Tricks Of Our Trade
Featurette-Camera Tests; Voice Talent; Live Action Reference
Featurette-Abandoned Concepts (3 plus intro); The Restoration
Deleted Scenes-5 plus intro
Featurette-Original RKO Opening And End Credits
Featurette-Disney Through The Decades (plus 8 trailers)
Featurette-The LA Premiere;Trip Through WD Studs;How Disney Carts Made
Audio-Only Track-Original Premiere; Radio Broads-3; Radio Comms-7; Songs-2
|Year Of Production||1937|
|Running Time||80:08 (Case: 70)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||David Hand|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There are few if any words that I could possibly add to the veritable encyclopedias that have been written over the years about Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Suffice it to say that it is the very first full length animated feature film ever made, that the gamble taken by Walt Disney paid off handsomely and the film in most respects was the catalyst for the expansion of his company into one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the world. The film spawned a whole new genre that has to a very large extent been the exclusive domain of the Walt Disney Company since 1937, and you only have to wander through the names of the memorable animated features that they have created to understand the impact they have had on family entertainment for the last sixty four years. Pinocchio, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and The Lion King just to name a few of the many gems in their catalogue. And it all begin with Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Somewhat pretentiously, the Walt Disney Company have always afforded the film the appellation of "masterpiece" for its infrequent theatrical and video releases, but if there is one film in their catalogue that does live up to that pretentious appellation then it is Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.
Like just about every reviewer in the world, I am not going to provide a plot synopsis, for the story is so well-known that there seems little point in rehashing it again. Suffice it to say that anyone of any age, other than those born since its last theatrical incarnation in 1993 and video release in 1994, is unlikely not to have seen the film or at the very least heard of the story. In our modern world, the story is incredibly simple and to some extent quite quaintly naive, but simplicity is often a wondrous thing, for it is that simplicity that keeps the crowds flocking back to see the film on its occasional theatrical releases and to add the video to the collection on its infrequent video releases.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is a landmark film in every respect and is one of the true classics. Nothing more needs to be said other than to ask the question: has the DVD release done justice to the film? After eighteen hours of watching, listening and typing over six days, let me assure you that you are going to be buying one of the very best DVD packages we have ever seen, period.
Recently there was a discussion amongst our review team where I passed the comment that just how often in the past twelve months had any of us truly been jaw-droppingly wowed by a transfer? It is a very rare event indeed, for after a while as a reviewer you get so attuned to finding blemishes that being wowed by a transfer becomes rarer and rarer. I recently was wowed by the restoration effort on 2001: A Space Odyssey. So it is a little funny that my next "wow" DVD turns up so very quickly. But in every way, this is a staggeringly brilliant restoration of video and this really is a DVD to be wowed by. It might not be perfect, and I thought the 1993 restoration was pretty darn good in VHS form, but this... this is just on another plane altogether. I would hate to think how many times I have seen Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs over the years, both theatrically and on video, but this was very much like seeing the film for the very first time. The time and effort that has been expended by Disney on the restoration of the film, not once but twice, can be seen in every shot on this DVD. This really is a stunning achievement.
The transfer is of course presented in a Full Frame format that corresponds with the original Academy theatrical ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.
The 1993 restoration did a brilliant job of removing many of the film artefacts that had been inflicted upon the film over the years. This resulted in a much cleaner image than had hitherto been seen for quite a while. But it still did not really make the film sparkle again, notably for what I have now found out was film dirt. This further restoration of the film has virtually resolved that issue completely, as well as eliminating almost all the inherent film grain from the original film. The result is one of the best restored images for a pre-world War Two film that you are likely to have seen, and are probably likely to see. Obviously this is not a superbly sharp transfer for the animation style is not conducive to that, but taking into account that style it is doubtful that this could have been any better presented. Having said that though, one sequence in particular demonstrates how fine the source material is: the Heigh-Ho sequence looks absolutely stunning, being razor sharp, gorgeously clear and terrifically coloured, and the film in general still leaves plenty of more recent animation efforts gasping in the wake of the excellence. The general clean up has brought out more detail than we have ever seen before in the film, and if you want to see how good that detail is just check out the reflection in the well at 5:19 and the pond ripples at 12:18. I have seen live action films of more recent vintage that could not match this sort of superb detail and definition. Clarity has of course been improved and the grain reduction has been phenomenal. There are still some traces of grain, such as in the opening credits at 1:55 and at 7:40 just before the scene change, but this is so small compared to earlier incarnations of the film that it is really mentioned only for the sake of completeness. There are no problems with low level noise in the transfer.
After you gain control of your jaw back from the shock of the clarity and definition of the transfer, you will lose it again when you see some of the superlative improvements in the colour of the film offered here. Talk about gorgeous! This makes a mockery of all the comments I have ever passed about the problematic nature of early Technicolor films! And considering that the entire film was done in a deliberately muted fashion as a reaction to the concern of movie-goers sitting through 80 minutes of bright colour, the achievement is even more staggering. Obviously it is not the most vibrant transfer you will ever see, as simply age and the way it was made will mitigate against such vibrancy, but the presentation of the colours is nonetheless quite miraculous. The colours all tend to be solidly rendered with nary an indication of anything approaching oversaturation and colour bleed. Indeed, about the only blemish I could see from a colour point of view is a slight indication in the bright red lipstick colour worn by Snow White at 11:44. Whilst lacking the really solid depth to blacks that we would expect in more recent Disney animated features, for its age this looks far, far better than it has any right to.
There are no really obvious MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although you will notice just a very slight loss of resolution in the pan shots around 6:22, 24:04 and 61:30. I would suggest, however, that these are not mastering issues but rather inherent in the source material. There are just a few instances of quite minor aliasing in the transfer but nothing that is really obvious: the top of the wall at 5:00, in the door at 22:24 and in the water pump at 59:11. That is the extent of the film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, and the only reason they get mentioned is because I am being super-critical here just to illustrate how good the transfer is. The big improvement here though is in the almost lack of film artefacts. This transfer has not looked this clean since the first time it was photographed back in 1937! About the only thing that I really noticed were what appeared to be some residual marks from cleaned up mildew at 6:22. For all intents and purposes, for a film of this vintage this is a stunning transfer.
This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming at 63:14. In keeping with the general tone of the transfer and package, this is a terrific layer change. It is placed right bang in the middle of a black scene change and therefore is virtually unnoticeable and certainly not the least bit disruptive to the flow of the film.
There is a limited array of subtitle options on the DVD, but at last we get two English options - "ordinary" English and English for the Hearing Impaired. I checked out the English subtitles and watched about forty minutes of them. I think in that time they might have missed about three or four words in total. These are really excellent subtitles, and apart from being very accurate they are well presented and quite easy to read.
There are three soundtracks on offer on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. I listened to both of the English soundtracks in their entirety.
The restoration of the audio is almost as impressive as that for the video, for it has been done so sensitively that the whole ambience of the original sound remains, just fleshed out with some more presence and a heck of a lot more clarity. As a result, the dialogue comes up very well indeed and there are no problems understanding what is being said here. Obviously 1937 and the first animated feature film meant that we have a significantly less impressive synching of audio and video than today, but this is of course all inherent in the art form.
The formula for Disney films has always been great music and song, cute characters and severe doses of saccharine. That formula had to start somewhere and that place is of course Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. But they did it so well, who is going to complain about it? The music and songs here come from Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline and Paul Smith. Would the film have had the same impact without the music and song? Probably not. Would the film have endured for over sixty years as a family favourite without the music and songs? Probably not. So basically by process of elimination, this is a superb score and it is aided by some great songs.
The Dolby Digital soundtrack really is a first rate effort, allowing for the inherent limitations of an original sound recording made in 1937. Sure, there is no really terrific use of the surround channels, nor the bass channel, but that is only to be expected since there are only so many miracles that a remastering can achieve. But since the source material did not have such use, the lack of it here is not missed at all. What the remastering has done is added a degree of body to the sound, so that the slightly shrill and distorted top end sound that I remember from the old VHS tapes has well and truly gone and been replaced by a much more natural sound. But it is not the body where this soundtrack wins, it is the clarity and just as the eyes pop open as you first see the video, the ears prick up at the wonderful open sound - a sound that is remarkably free of any distortions whatsoever. It might not be the best remastered 5.1 sound you will ever hear, but this is far better than I ever expected Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs to sound.
The only real downer here is that we do not get the restored Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack that the Region 1 release gets. It seems odd that we get a Portuguese soundtrack but not the restored original mono soundtrack. Serious bummer that.
|Surround Channel Use|
Got your billy filled and the lunch pail overloaded? Good, as you are about to sit down for one very lengthy ride.
As a reviewer, one of the things that you really dread is having to review a DVD that has an extras package that just goes on and on and on. Normally, that is because sheer quantity is usually at the expense of quality. Occasionally, there is an abnormal DVD, one that has an extras package that goes on and on and on for good reason - the quality and variety of the material warrants it. Believe me when I say that the oft-maligned organisation known as Disney have trolled the veritable treasure trove of archival material they have and have assembled what is arguably the finest collection of extras ever committed to DVD. And believe me when I say that you best set aside some time for looking at this heavily-laden package. I would conservatively estimate that this package has taken me well over eight hours of time to investigate - and virtually everything here is well worth investigating. In terms of sheer scope, size and quality as well as enrichment, I would suggest that only one extras package has come near this one - and that is coincidentally a very famous film roughly contemporaneous with Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs in The Wizard Of Oz. Ordinarily, I am not a huge fan of the Disney policy of releasing its big name films to video for a short time and then having them on moratorium for the better part of a decade. However, if this is the sort of quality of extras package that we can expect from these annual releases of the big name titles, then I am quite happy to wait (sort of) until October 2002 for the next release. Just a reminder that the tentative release schedule sees Beauty And The Beast as the next in the series to be given the treatment.
And this is no slapped together package either. Considerable thought has gone into the design and execution of this package, from start to finish.
The unifying theme of the menus is the magic mirror on the wall. After some wonderful introductory animation and audio, the main menu is a wonderfully handled animation of the magic mirror with some very clever audio enhancement. All menus have animation and audio enhancement, oftentimes in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and generally operate very well indeed. There is just the odd clunky transition here and there, but in a package of this magnitude this is hardly rated as a detracting issue. All menus are full screen and are not 16x9 enhanced. Unless otherwise noted, all audio in the extras package is Dolby Digital 2.0 and all video is Full Frame and not 16x9 enhanced.
Introduced by Roy E. Disney, Walt's nephew, and hosted by Angela Lansbury, this is a nicely presented, potted tour of the extras available on disc one. Obviously since the film is contained on this disc, there is not a huge extras package on offer to be guided through but it is good stuff.
Narrated by Angela Lansbury, this is a shortish but very interesting effort that really delves into various aspects of the film. In some respects it is a short synopsis of the entire extras package, for we get to see plenty of old sketches, archival film of Walt Disney, portions of deleted scenes, extracts from the foreign language versions of the film (something regrettably that should have been expanded in my view) and interview material from a number of people including John Canemaker, an animation historian who crops up frequently during the package. As good as this is, apparently it could have been better as the version on the Region 1 DVD apparently runs somewhat longer than the Region 4 version...
Well after the double take, just how did they manage to include an audio commentary by a bloke who has been dead for over thirty years? With quite a degree of ingenuity is the simple answer, although if you want to be very pedantic it is not really an audio commentary as such. Hosted by John Canemaker, most of what is presented here is not so much screen specific but more of a general background filler about the making of various parts of the film. The contributions from Walt Disney are taken from various archival interview sources, and are inserted into the general flow of proceedings as appropriate. Whilst a rather dull sounding effort, for animation buffs or Disney buffs, this is a treat indeed for Walt Disney does provide a wealth of information about the making of the film as well as some general information about the development of the Disney Studios. Well worth a listen although it does make you wish that we got to hear some more of those interviews with Walt Disney in their entirety. The quality of the interview material involving Walt Disney is a little variable of course, and some is a little hissy, but nothing really objectionable. The contribution by John Canemaker is very acceptable.
Looking like it has been extracted straight from one of the Disney Sing-Along videos, this interestingly is the first indication that the extras seem to use unrestored film footage, which is noticeably inferior in standard to the main feature. Not my sort of stuff, but for the kids or those with an intense need to prove that they cannot sing to save their lives, quite a decent item.
Whilst I would normally not indulge in these sorts of things, obviously reviewing means that I have to do so. I will admit it - its actually quite a bit of fun, although some of the questions are a little more challenging than perhaps one would normally expect from what is a young children's game. I will give you a tip - make sure that you watch the film very closely before playing the game! Very nicely animated, in an almost three dimensional looking style that is most engrossing.
Must be something special indeed when they can get one of the most revered names in the music industry to wrap her vocal cords around a new version of this old chestnut. Recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, this is generally excellent in every way (more so if you are a Babs fan I suppose). It is played over film excerpts and the only real note of complaint is the fact that the bass has been mixed just a little too heavily in the mix for this style of song, which just tends to overpower the vocals a little at times. Note that whilst this is selectable as an extra from the menu, it also plays automatically after the closing credits of the film.
Disc Two is divided into five sections: Snow White's Wishing Well, The Queen's Castle, The Dwarf's Mine, The Dwarf's Cottage and The Queen's Dungeon. The magic mirror is again the access point to the whole collection and you can either use the graphic depictions to access each section or, by selecting the red apple, use the more usual text based menus. The sections are then themselves split into further sections.
This is split into two sections: History and Storyboard To Film Comparisons.
An entirely text based collection of pages, split into three topics: Walt Disney Biographical Timeline, Snow White Production Timeline and Original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale.
This comprises 55 still pages of rather brief notes about Walt Disney's history from the birth of the man through to the period just after the release of the film. Presented in rather large text, these could perhaps have been condensed down somewhat and more detail added within the space available. A few photos or other illustrations might not have gone astray either.
This comprises 66 still pages about Snow White on film, starting from the date of publication of the original fairy tale through all the re-releases of the film. Somewhat more interesting than the previous effort, it nonetheless could also have benefited from the use of slightly smaller text and being somewhat more expansive in detail.
Comprising 73 still pages, I have to confess that I did not recall the entire fairy tale at all. Accordingly, this was not just a nice reminder of the original fairy tale, but also a good way of demonstrating how much the film deviates form the original source material. Good because the film is probably now regarded as the version of the fairy tale even though it bears little but superficial resemblance to the work of The Brothers Grimm. The text is again in rather large font and could perhaps have been made a little smaller and thus more condensed.
This manages to use that rather under-utilised feature of DVD, the multiple angle, to some good effect.
After an introduction featuring John Canemaker, there are four scenes that are looked at: The Forest Chase (2:54), Cleaning House (3:18), The Dwarfs Chase The Witch (1:58) and The Queens Order (0:46). The presentation of the four scenes is identical, with angle one showing the storyboards, angle two showing the final film and angle three showing a split screen comparison where you see both running simultaneously. You can switch between the three angles obviously, and the scenes are further enhanced with audio enhancement. Very interesting indeed, although regrettable that a more extensive look at extended scenes was not made. The introduction features some very echoey sound, but otherwise the presentation across the board is excellent.
This is split into five sections: Art And Design, Visual Development, Layouts And Backgrounds, Cameras And Tests and Animation.
A short introduction about the art direction of the film hosted by John Canemaker. A decent enough introduction even if slightly marred by what appears to be some low level noise at 1:30.
This is one of the highlights of the package, and not just because of the very innovative presentation, which displays the contents actually in galleries: the castle and the mine in the first gallery, the forest, the cliff chase and Tenggren art in the second gallery and the cottage in the third gallery.
The three galleries comprise a total of 194 sketches and drawings that demonstrate the entire development of the look of the various aspects of the design of the film. Aside from the rather unusual, and pleasingly so, presentation of this very large collection of often priceless sketches, some items are additionally blessed with audio commentary which can be accessed in a short audio tour. Navigation through the galleries is via the arrow keys on your remote.
This section begins with a short introduction followed by a gallery of stuff.
An introduction to what layouts and backgrounds are all about presented by Scott MacQueen, Director of Library Restoration at Disney. Quite interesting and quite well presented, although the video is marred somewhat by shimmer whenever there is camera movement. It does provide some nice examples of the progression from rendering to finished artwork to the final film, which in no small way expands our understanding of the complicated processes involved in film animation.
Although nowhere near as extensive as the previous gallery, this still comprises 51 stills of various parts of the film, with the audio commentary again for certain items. Again very interesting stuff.
This section basically comprises three featurettes that detail various aspects of the process of putting together a believable animated feature. Not always Snow White specific, but illustrating how the whole Disney setup was geared to the accumulation of knowledge to keep pushing the boundaries of the art form.
A shortish excerpt taken from the Disneyland television series of 1957, demonstrating the interconnectedness of the work done before the making of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. Naturally this is looking rather aged nowadays and the colour is not the best, but is a worthy inclusion as it does demonstrate in part the enormously complex task of improving the skills to make Snow White not only possible, but also believable and successful.
Taken from the same source as the previous effort, this one is specifically about the development of the multi-plane camera that enabled more realistic backgrounds to be achieved, resulting in more natural looking and believable animation. The poorish colour is again here, added to which is some deal of film artefacts and a slightly grainy look at times. Still, such is the content that these imperfections are easily dismissed. This is very interesting indeed.
You want testing, you got testing! Hosted by Scott MacQueen, this is a rather decent collection of tests of just about every kind that were undertaken with the aim of making Snow White the masterpiece that it is. We have Technicolor tests relating to Snow White herself, The Dwarfs and some of the animals, working out the best colours for the film (noting of course that the film used a deliberately muted colour scheme). We have filter and exposure tests, trying to determine the best way to create the right mood for the film. It is amazing how much difference the filter can make to the film based upon the contents here. We have background art tests and finally we have tests of the multi-plane camera itself. Aside from the fact that some of the footage of the multi-plane camera tests is a little grainy, there is nothing wrong with this and it is extremely interesting.
This section comprises three featurettes that detail various aspects of the process of animation including using live action film analysis and the assembling of the vocal talent used in the film. These are followed by a very extensive gallery dealing with character design.
With interview material from animation historians Paula Wigman and John Canemaker, as well as Adriana Caselotti who voiced Snow White, this short featurette delves into the thought and selection processes behind the at times difficult process of selecting voices for the film. This is an interesting look into the problems, although perhaps a little shorter than is ideal.
One of the greatest hurdles facing the animated film makers, after selecting a great story, was making the animated characters believable. This narrated featurette comprises archival footage of live action film that was shot by the Disney studio for the animators to use not only as a study tool as to how bodies move but also as a reference tool when drawing animated characters. It might suffer from film artefacts aplenty but this is really interesting stuff if you want to understand how Disney moved from the very cartoonish look of his early shorts to the far more naturalistic looking feature film.
Another excerpt taken from the 1957 Disneyland programme, this effort looks at the use of film analysis in actually animating the characters of the film. Whilst the picture is blessed with film artefacts, and the sound is blessed with some hiss as well as a fair dose of crackling, this continues the interesting archival material dug out of the vast Disney archives.
Now this is an extensive collection! One gallery comprising three animated halls containing a total of 183 stills, mainly sketches but also some renderings and some photographs. Detailing to an almost unbelievable degree the process of working towards final character designs, this is a rather fascinating collection that could absorb the real fan for a fair old time. As usual, some of the contents are blessed with audio commentary. Words cannot describe the scope of these galleries. However, the third hall displays about the only glitch in the whole, extensive package. Rather than returning to the animation of the gallery wall at the end of the last little pane in this section, as happens everywhere else in the package, there is a mastering glitch here and use of the right arrow key just keeps looping you through the same pictures over and over again. Thankfully there are only two sketches in this section, but it seems odd after everywhere else being handled correctly. By the way, is it only me or do a lot of the characters here get slightly updated and appear in subsequent Disney feature films? I could swear that Doc is the brother of Smee in Peter Pan.... and just how many of those animals get recycled in Bambi?
This gallery comprises a further 62 stills in the same fashion as the above gallery, this time dedicated to the vain queen and the Peddler (more commonly known as the Witch).
The final gallery comprises 42 stills delving into the complexities of the more minor characters in the film.
This section literally plumbs some of the gems of the Disney vault and is split into three sections: Deleted Scenes, Original RKO Opening And End Credits and Disney Through The Decades.
Exactly what it says - after an introduction (0:38) hosted by John Canemaker (in rather echoy, recessed sound), we get five deleted scenes from the film: The Witch At The Cauldron (0:39), The Bedroom Argument (2:12), Music In Your Soup (3:57), The Lodge Meeting (1:50) and Building A Bed (4:43). The Witch At The Cauldron is the only complete piece here, being fully animated and comes complete with completed sound and effects. It was ruthlessly excised by Walt Disney as it did not advance the story and there was an almost paranoia about keeping the length of the film down to an absolute minimum, to be less taxing to an audience that had never seen an animated feature. This really was just an extended insert into the scene where the witch concocts the poison apple. The other four scenes are incomplete and are presented in the form of basic animation drawings with some storyboards or design concept drawings to demonstrate the whole scene. They do however come with the original sound recordings made for the sequences. The Bedroom Argument starts and finishes with the completed scenes from the film into which it was to fit, and so it is easily understood how it did not advance the film story. Music In Your Soup was the song that was excised that was intended to appear in the film during the meal in the Dwarf's cottage. This is perhaps the best of the deleted scenes and it is a real shame that it never made the final film. The Lodge Meeting is a fairly pointless scene that would have been included just after the meal, where the Dwarfs get together to try and decide to do something for Snow White. They end up taking on Sleepy's suggestions and so Building A Bed would have followed very quickly thereafter. These are all fascinating scenes as is the presentation, but apart from the one scene, the film is probably the better for them being deleted. All the scenes suffer to some extent from film artefacts as well being occasionally grainy. Additionally, Building A Bed suffers somewhat from crackly sound.
Yes, the film that we see is not the original version. The original version was made with the opening and ending credits reflecting the distribution deal that Walt Disney had with RKO Pictures at the time. When the deal was finished in 1954, the studio re-did the credits in a similar style but without the RKO references, and these were done for the 1957 theatrical re-release of the film. These are the credits that we see in the film today. It is thus interesting to see these original credit sequences, especially since they do differ slightly in the background - when the studio came to redo the titles, they could not find the original background and used something quite similar instead.
This is a selection of nine short components that summarise each decade of the Walt Disney contribution to film:
This is an interesting collection, but wait there is more! Meantime, the quality is excellent except for some aliasing problems in the section hosted by Ming-Na. The more is what really lifts this in terms of excellence: each decade, except for the 1970s, is also accompanied by the corresponding trailer for the release of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs! The original trailer accompanies the introduction, and the trailer for the new century is the advert for this very DVD release. The 1970s dips out for apparently the Disney empire is not completely infallible and the trailer has been lost. These trailers are interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, they provide a great illustration of how film promotion has changed over the decades - both in content and in length! Secondly, they really demonstrate how bad the film could look before restoration bestowed this miraculous transfer upon the world! The eight trailers run to a total running time of 12:28.
This section takes us through a treasure trove of archival material split into four sections: The Premiere, Trailers, Publicity and Vintage Audio.
This is a short newsreel item regarding the film's premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater on 21st December, 1937. Typical of such material of this era, it is not the greatest looking transfer and the sound suffers from some distortion towards the end. Nonetheless, this is an interesting inclusion.
Talk about delving into the past, well this is it. It is terribly difficult nowadays to understand just how important radio was before the advent of television, when nations gathered around the wireless to listen to the world. This is a glorious piece of history, as an endless parade of names that we do not necessarily recognise today come to the microphone to add their tribute to the film. It might feature some rather crackly sound but this is priceless stuff indeed.
This actually accesses the same trailers that were associated with the Disney Through The Decades featurette.
This comprises three sections: Scrapbook, A Trip Through Walt Disney Studios and How Disney Cartoons Are Made.
Actually presented as a scrapbook, this comprises five sections: The Premiere, Pressbook, Production Photos, Merchandise and Posters. With a total of 60 photographs, this is a rather brief look through the five topics, considering how much material must be available! Noteworthy is the fact that the photographs in Production Photos and Merchandise are ANNOTATED!!!! How long have I been complaining about the lack of annotation in such galleries? Finally someone has listened and it is amazing how much difference it actually makes - knowing what we are seeing in the photo is an absolute joy. The posters included here are the same as those thumbnails used in the Disney Through The Decades featurette.
This is a short promotional film produced by the Walt Disney Studios in answer to endless questions from RKO Radio Pictures about how animated films are made. It was intended for display to RKO Radio Pictures personnel and distributors as a way of encouraging the selling of the film to the public. We get the full short after a short introduction from Scott MacQueen. Technically this is not great - terribly grainy in appearance, and with hissy, crackly sound. Nonetheless it is a very interesting inclusion here.
After a short introduction also from Scott MacQueen, we get this short public featurette which funnily enough is basically a public version of the previous promotional featurette. Whilst it does therefore repeat most of the previous featurette, what is quite amazing is how much better looking this effort is. It suffers no grain at all and is basically of excellent quality - barring some obvious film artefacts towards the end of the film.
Obviously an audio only collection here, with the whole comprising three sections: Radio Broadcasts, Radio Commercials and Songs.
There are three broadcasts here:
All three exhibit some slight audio problems with some crackly, hissy sound, but apart from that these are quite fascinating. Not the least of the reasons why include the fact that the first two feature famed director Cecil B. DeMille interviewing Walt Disney about certain aspects of the making of the film. The second broadcast of course was on the eve of the premiere of the film, which adds a certain understanding to proceedings - it must have been something of a nerve-wracking experience for Walt Disney. The last of the three broadcasts is included as it was Snow White Day and features lots of music from the film. Whilst the presentation is a little dry, these are actually quite interesting if you can suffer the presentation style.
This features three commercials for the 1958 re-release and four commercials for the 1967 re-release. The 1958 efforts are all about 34 seconds in length, whilst the 1967 efforts are equally split between one minute in length and thirty odd seconds in length. Quality is very good, and whilst not the most essential inclusion in the whole package are worth a listen.
Not so much two songs as some fascinating material illustrating some of the effort in compiling the music. The first track is a recording session for Silly Song (3:13), featuring some yodelling that did not make the final film. The second track is a recording of the deleted song You're Never Too Old To Be Young (3:18) that the yodelling segued into. The latter suffers from noticeable hiss, but the two items are priceless examples of the sort of material that lurks in those extensive Disney archives.
This is split into two sections: Abandoned Concepts and The Restoration.
After a short introduction (0:56) from John Canemaker, which again features echoy sound, we get to the guts of the stuff, namely three abandoned sequences: Snow White Meets The Prince (2:09), Some Day My Prince Will Come (4:14) and The Prince Is Captured (1:25). The first is broadly similar to the final version of the film, with the exception of some rather over-the-top stuff and some Romeo & Juliet homage that really would not have suited the film at all. The second is a fantasy sequence that would have been used in place of the sequence in the film. Done properly, it would have looked the goods but like much of what was excised from the film, it would not really have moved the film along that well. The third was a completely out of left field piece that really would not have fit anywhere in the film, other than as perhaps an introduction to the witch's dungeon. All are presented of course using concept drawings, some more detailed than others. Mildly interesting, but not essential stuff.
There I was ready to sit down for a lengthy look at what they did to create this superb restoration and all we get is five minutes? This is by far the biggest disappointment on the DVD - the five minutes might be interesting but it only serves to make the disappointment over the lack of an hour long effort even more pronounced. Narrated by Angela Lansbury with contributions from Chris Carey (DVD producer), Jim Miller (in charge of video) and Terry Porter (sound), this should have been so much more.
We have attempted to highlight some of the areas of difference between the Region 1 release and the Region 4 release in the extras section. Other than those differences, we believe the Region 4 release misses out on:
It should be pointed out that of the available Region 1 reviews, all seem to demonstrate some slight difference in opinion as to what is actually on the Region 1 DVD. The DVD-ROM content apparently includes an additional game and a link to an exclusive DVD website. The available reviews indicate that there is pretty much universal acclaim of the DVD release but the addition of the original soundtrack on the Region 1 DVD is somewhat of an inducement towards that version of the DVD. Mind you, it does come at a bit of a cost.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is in every sense of the word a masterpiece. Not only does it have huge historical importance in film in general, being the very first full length animated feature film, but also on the Walt Disney Company in general. As we are reminded many times, were it not for this film, much of what the Walt Disney Company has done would never have happened. It cost $1,700,000 to make and grossed $8,000,000 in its first theatrical release. The mind boggles as to how much the film has made in total after something like nine theatrical release runs and a couple of video releases. But more than just the numbers is the fact that despite the passage of almost sixty four years, this remains a cherished film that generation after generation return to for entertainment. There are simply no sufficient superlatives that I can throw at this release that can in any way convey the sheer brilliance of this package. Stunningly restored, so that visually this is probably better looking that it was on first release. Brilliantly and sensitively remastered, so that aurally the ambience of the soundtrack has remained unchanged but the clarity of the soundtrack is significantly improved. Superlatively packaged with a stunning collection of extras that both entertains and informs. A masterpiece is what it proudly proclaims on the cover and a masterpiece it is. This should be in every DVD collection and nothing should stop you from ensuring that it is added to your collection before the DVD disappears from the shelves, not to return for perhaps another decade.
However, since I must complain about something - why oh why have Disney gone to all the trouble of producing a superlative DVD package only to release it in a really crappy looking and cheap looking soft transparent double brackley case? It looks appalling and destroys the whole quality of the package.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|