I’m gonna do something that I never thought I would do.
I’m gonna defend Snow White.
Walt may have said that it was all started by a mouse, but you could also argue that it was really started by Snow White. The animated movies, and the Princess brand in particular, are really what sticks with people in terms of Disney’s influence on American culture. And who started this pop cultural phenomenon?
A dumbass fourteen-year-old who breaks into houses, takes food from strangers, and marries guys she just met.
I really hated this movie. For a really long time. If you brought it up I’d go on about the anti-feminist ideals and idiotic plot. An evil queen is so incredibly vain that she decides to turn herself into an ugly hag to kill some prettier girl who, apparently, takes too many uppers or something because she spends a lot of time thinking that she can talk — no sorry, SING — to animals.
Why did the Evil Queen use a poison apple, anyway? Why not just stab her and be done with it? Or give her a poison that didn’t have a loophole? Surely arsenic was around back then. And why did she have to turn herself into an ugly old crone to do this? Doesn’t that defeat her purpose of becoming the most beautiful woman in the land? And don’t get me started on Prince Charming…
So I didn’t watch this movie for a very long time. And then it was on TV about two years ago so I decided to try it again.
You know what? I loved it.
Okay, Snow White is still an idiot. But she’s only fourteen! She’s allowed to be a sheltered, naive little kid. And her ability to communicate with animals is kinda cool. Plus, she totally whips all the dwarves into line. Even Grumpy acquiesces to the rule of General Snow White, washing when instructed and even giving up his bed with all the others.
Yes, Snow White is a horribly underdeveloped character. But people who point to that as proof of misogyny forget that all the characters in this film are underdeveloped. Snow White at least gets a name. Prince Charming just gets a pair of unbelievably chapped lips.
This movie is as simplistic as it gets. No character development, no moral ambiguity, not even complex emotions. Dopey is always Dopey. Evil Queen is always evil. Grumpy is always Grumpy. Well, except for that one part…
Normally, I would point to all of these things as proof of why this is a bad movie. But when you strip away all the complexity that a movie normally requires and just leave the bare framework, the result is (in this instance at least) startlingly….charming. Its genuine innocence truly captures the mindset of a child. Throughout the movie I had this giant smile on my face and my stomach was squirming with all of the warm fuzzies. This movie is just so pure and so earnest that it’s no wonder it is so inextricably tied to the Disney culture.
I dare you, DARE YOU, not to giggle when Dopey runs around to Snow White for a second kiss.
The thing, I think, that really makes this movie stand apart is the animation. I don’t have what you’d call an artistic eye, but even I am floored by the sheer artistry in this film. The color, the charm, the comic timing, everything adds to a viscerally satisfying film.
No brainwork is required or wanted when watching this film. And that’s okay! Not every movie has to be a thinker. It’s a sheer sensory experience. Okay, Prince Charming randomly deciding to kiss a corpse is creepy. But only when you think about it. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I fully understand and agree with the damaging influence this notion can have on a young child, which is why it’s important when showing it to a kid to have a discussion about why Snow White’s choices were poor ones. It’s probably a great time to talk about “Stranger Danger.” And possibly the legal ramifications of “Breaking and Entering.”
[Big Bro’s note: Being the fairest in the land will get you out of a lot of misdemeanors.]
Is this movie perfect? Clearly not. But it is indisputably a great work of art. So if you’ve turned your nose up at it like I once did, I encourage you to give it another chance. If not for the reasons I just mentioned, but then for one of the most brilliantly designed villains of all time.
Yikes that broad is creepy.
Join us next time when I re-view…