|1937 Movie Poster|
Produced in 1937, Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" became the first full-length animated fairy-tale film ever made in history. Disney illuminated the original "Snow White" written by the Brothers Grimm from his own perspective. With that said, there are similarities between the film and the original tale, but there are also differences.
Both in the Disney film and the Grimm tale, Snow White is ruthlessly sought after by her evil stepmother/wicked queen because the queen longs to eliminate Snow White as an obstacle in her being the fairest of them all. The wicked queen arranges for a huntsman to lead Snow White into the forest, murder her, and bring back proof of her death. Another similarity between the two portrayals of "Snow White" is that Snow White makes a contract with the seven dwarfs, in which she will cook, clean, and keep house for them in return for them letting her stay there. The dwarfs also warn Snow White to beware of her evil stepmother while she is left alone in the house in both genres, but nonetheless, the wicked queen convinces Snow White to take a bite of the poisoned apple, causing her to fall into a sleeping death. In the end, however, both the movie and the Grimm tale conclude with Snow White and the prince living happily ever after, while the wicked queen suffers a painful death.
In the Disney film, Snow White is portrayed as a scullery maid and an orphan with no sign of her birth parents. This is different from the Grimm version where Snow White experienced the sentimental death of her mother early on, and her father is very much alive throughout the duration of the tale. The arrival of the prince in the beginning of the Disney movie is also very different from the fact that he only appears at the end in the Grimm tale, thus playing a minor role in the plot. In the Grimm tale, the dwarfs also play a more humble role than in the Disney movie where they are seen as rich, hardworking miners, and very easily the stars of the film. In the tale, the wicked queen makes three different attempts to kill Snow White through the stay lace, poisoned comb, and the apple, but in the movie she only needs one time in order to succeed in tempting Snow White with the red apple. The queen dies by accident in the movie, whereas in the tale, she is forced to dance in red-hot iron shoes at Snow White's Wedding. Lastly, the movie has Snow White awakening from her slumber by true love's kiss, but in the tale it was indeed a stumble over some shrubs that dislodged the poisoned piece of apple from her throat which returns her to life.
There were two main reasons why Disney chose to divert from certain content of the original version of the Grimm tale. First, Disney was keen on the idea of self-figuration in that he was able to make a lasting mark on the film industry through his productions. He took all the credit for the creation of the film by having his name plastered everywhere, and had himself embodied in the figure of the prince. The second more important reason was to offer people hope in bad times. As this film was produced in the midst of the Great Depression, American morality was at an all-time low, and the people needed to feel that their patience could be rewarded. Through Disney's portrayal of the dwarfs as happy before and after work, he instilled the ideal in the American people that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. The original Grimm tale wouldn't have provided a good model for society during the time, but Disney's twist on the tale offered a great pick-me-up film to both children and adults.