By Steve Daly
Updated July 09, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s about a teenage girl who lives to cook, to clean, and to primp so she’ll look her best when some handsome man comes to carry her away. And that’s not the creakiest of the quaint conventions on display in the latest theatrical reissue of Disney’s 1937 snow white and the seven dwarfs (G), one of the studio’s few cartoon features yet to be released on video. Of course, young children will relate instantly to the whimsy and humor in this fairy tale. But for children and adults who’ve gorged on repeat viewings of hipper, MTV-paced, semi-feminist Disney fare like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, the mix of now-musty pop-culture influences that shaped the world’s first color cartoon feature will surely seem mannered: There’s lots of vaudeville slapstick in the dwarfs’ clowning, nods to Jeanette MacDonald-style operetta in Snow’s coloratura voice by Adriana Caselotti (see sidebar), and big helpings of silent-movie melodrama in the evil queen’s shifty eyes, flaring eyebrows, and hammy, exaggerated gestures. That said, a viewer of any age would have to be a stone not to be enchanted by some part of this movie. Thanks to Walt Disney’s genius for making cartoon characters believable, Snow White’s best sequences still have an indestructible, timeless appeal. So what if the words to ”Some Day My Prince Will Come” are pure corn? Disney shrewdly chose to focus not on Snow but on the dwarfs’ longing faces as they gather to listen. And after Snow White’s apparent death, can anybody watch Dopey sob into Doc’s shirt and not feel they’re watching two real people grieve? There’s also an element that plays better than ever: maestro Disney’s obsession with visual details, down to things as teensy as the faded potion stains on the queen’s book of evil spells. In these new, spruced-up reissue prints, digital-effects technology has been used to brighten colors and remove ( all sorts of age marks and dust specks; it even corrects some flickery shots Disney’s technicians couldn’t get quite right in the original photography. As a result, all sorts of carved faces and figures peer out legibly from the walls of the dwarfs’ shadowy cottage-the kind of fine, dim detail that won’t read well when the movie eventually comes to video. Naturally, to promote the movie’s presence in theaters now, the Disney marketeers are launching their usual efficient blitz of storybook tie-in products. Yet since the movie depends so much on color, music, and pacing to work its magic, it’s not surprising that three book-and-audiocassette packages, the no-frills Read-Along ($6.98, ages 3-7), the read-along collection ($15.98, ages 3-7), which comes with a colorful plastic watch, and the Deluxe Read-along with pop-ups ($15.98, ages 4-8) seem pale substitutes. It doesn’t help that in dialogue passages, the tape features no-name voice actors mimicking the movie’s cast. Except for one song, ”Heigh-Ho,” tacked onto the end of the cassettes, all three packages are so-so. If your kids really can’t wait for the videocassette, try the sound & story theater ($19.98, ages 4-8). It looks like a square book, but the spine folds back on itself to reveal four neato, stand-up three-dimensional settings, through which you can move little figurines of Snow and Prince Charming while playing a 45-minute tape that includes the movie’s eight songs (sometimes a bit abridged) and generous swatches of the rest of the soundtrack, too. For both kids and grown-ups, the inevitable original motion picture soundtrack ($10.98 cassette, CD price varies) may be too generous. At 73 minutes, it features all the songs as well as virtually all the ”underscore” that connects them. So much of this background music is keyed to gestures the characters make on screen that without the visuals, it gets tedious. And welcome as the inclusion is of two ditties dropped from the movie, ”Music in Your Soup” and ”You’re Never Too Old to Be Young,” there’s nary a word in the liner notes about exactly what they are or why they weren’t used. Leaving out those kinds of details in a package intended as the definitive musical keepsake seems sort of dopey. Snow White: A Read-Along: C Read-Along Collection: C+ Deluxe Read-Along with Pop-Ups: C Sound & Story Theater: A- Soundtrack: b

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

  • Movie
  • G
  • 83 minutes
  • David Hand