The Music and Magic of the Disney Animated Canon, Vol. 1: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The Walt Disney Company has been making us laugh, cry, get angry, whoop for joy, sing, dance, and fall in love since its first feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1939. In this, the first part of an intended complete series of separate discussion threads about each movie in the Disney Animated Canon, we will discuss our memories of the movies, with what I hope will be a special emphasis placed on the music therein.

This is intended to be a weekly series, but just because a new thread opens up doesn’t mean you have to stop posting in the previous ones. I can also promise you that there will be, on occasion, schedule slip on my part, as I’m a college student. I’ll also need some help “chairing” the discussions on some of the movies I haven’t seen. Thus far, of the 53 movies in the canon, there are 16 of them that either I haven’t seen, or have seen precious little of. The first three of these will be movies #6, 8 and 10—Saludos Amigos, Make Mine Music, and Melody Time. If you can help with these, please let me know.

Something that will be a permanent part of the series is the poll at the top in which you list your favorite song; much like we did with The Beatles, ultimately I want to find out The Dope’s Pick for Greatest Song from the Disney Animated Canon. That series, in fact, was the catalyst behind this idea.

But enough preamble. Let’s get to the discussion!

It all began with Snow White in 1939. Sure, her voice is a little granny-like in retrospect (compared to, say, Cinderella’s), but her classic beauty and innocence, cheerful dry wit, and immediate promotion to head of the dwarfs’ household make for a fun character. Snow White’s youthful longing for a prince to come and show her what happiness is would set the stage for many Disney princesses—and millions of real-life young girls—to come.

The Seven Dwarfs, originally planned as seven near-identical little men with no distinct personalities, thankfully morphed into the delightful cast of characters we all remember. Can you name all seven without looking? Lemme try. Happy, Dopey, Doc, Sneezy, Grumpy, Bashful, and… crap. I cheated after three minutes and looked it up. Sleepy. Now wait two days and YOU try. Haha!

The scene in which Dopey (riding on top of Sneezy) dances in a long coat with Snow White was hilarious. Particularly when The Inevitable Sneezy Eruption occurs. “AH-OOOM-PEEEEEEEEWWWWWW!” “HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” And dig Dopey landing in the rafters.

Now about the Queen, one of the most memorable Disney villains of all-time. I wonder exactly how often she checked that magic mirror, and what exactly tipped Snow White into the #1 position for The Fairest One of All. (Also, it’s rather statistically unlikely that The Fairest One of All would live in the same country as yourself, let alone the same castle, but I digress).

That woman was one nasty piece of work before she transformed herself into a hideous witch, and then we saw one of the most horrifying transformation sequences ever put to film. And the music in that scene! DAH-dah-dah-dah… DAH-DAH dah-dah-dah…

I found it kinda funny (and I found it kinda sad) that upon causing Snow White to fall into the Sleeping Death, the Queen (still in her Witch persona) said, without irony, “Now I’LL be fairest in the land!” Um, lady, I hope you learned the reversal spell, ‘cuz have you LOOKED in the mirror lately?

Also, she probably could have just… y’know… stabbed her while she was down. A comatose person dying by being buried alive doesn’t sound like a half-bad way to die, actually.

Anyway. It goes without saying that this is a true classic, a must-have for any fan of film in general and Disney in particular.

As far as my favorite song… this is one of those movies, it’s hard to pick just one. I voted for “Whistle While You Work”, in part because of the hilarious animals using their tails as brooms and their bellies as washboards. “The Silly Song” and “Someday My Prince Will Come” would have been my second- and third-place votes.

Heigh-Ho and “Whistle While You Work” are my faves here, but since I only got one vote, it’s Heigh-Ho.

Listening just to the soundtrack, without watching the movie, is amazing. The sequence where the Prince kisses and awakens Snow, there’s a moment when the audience recognizes that she’s awake but the dwarfs and prince don’t – you can hear it in the music. Chillingly wonderful.

The movie goes on my list of N Greatest Movies of All Time (so long as N > 7.)

I hadn’t seen the film since I was a kid until my husband picked up the Blu-ray for our unborn baby to start off his movie collection - it is absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray. There’s even a very nice little storybook-style in-fill to make it look nice on your widescreen TV. If you’ve only seen it via inferior prints or an old VHS or whatever, do yourself a favor even if you think you don’t really love the movie so much. The love and care in the animation are all up there on screen - it’s really fantastic.

ETA - and how great is that sequence with the forest full of eyes?

I saw the movie when it was re-released in NYC’s Rockefeller City Music Hall, and I was amazed at how gorgeous it is . . . especially when compared to today’s animation. And as soon as I saw this thread, I immediately started humming “Some Day My Prince Will Come” to myself. The song sums up the entire theme of the story.

Well, this was intended to be a weekly series when I first started it back in 2014, but as a college student I was only able to do two before life got in the way. Now that I’m out of college and have got Disney+, I intend to restart the series.

I’m gonna re-watch Snow White in the next couple days. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this film?

“Someday My Prince Will Come” is the only one that became a jazz standard, so that’s got my vote. But I would definitely listen to Miles blowing “Heigh-ho.”

Second place to “Whistle while you work; Hitler is a jerk; Mussolini bit his weenie, now it doesn’t work.”

Apparently I voted for Heigh-Ho.

I’d stick with that.

My grandson, who wasn’t born when the poll was first made, would agree as well. He went through a long period of time when that was all he wanted to listen to. (He was 2 and a half.)

Watched it again tonight.

For the first time, I was struck by the fact that, as far as Snow White knows, the Witch was telling the truth about the “Magic Wishing Apple”. Snow White wished that the Prince would take her away to his castle, and then she bit into the apple, went into a deep sleep, and woke up from the Prince’s kiss at what must have seemed to her to be instantly.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to the burlesque show, I paid two bits… (dum dum dum dum - you figure out the rest).

Is one of the songs above the one that the dwarves play in the cottage after dinner? I love that music, especially the detail on the instruments - the carved animals on the organ opening and closing their mouths is pure animation brilliance.

Yeah, that’s “The Silly Song”. I love it.

Then consider that one to have an additional vote in this thread’s poll.