Golly gosh a’mighty, it’s awful hard not to roll your eyes a little when you hear the falsetto-high, borderline-baby-talk voice of Disney’s trailblazing cartoon-feature heroine, done by an 18-year-old Adrianna Caselotti. What seemed hip in the heyday of Jeanette MacDonald just seems cloying now. But that said, nothing else about the picture feels dated. In fact, the makeover Disney has given these hand-drawn images sets a thoroughly modern digital-restoration benchmark. There are no more pesky dust specks (which got trapped between cels and backgrounds in the original photography), no flickers, no jitters. The resulting images pop like you’re holding original artwork, and the dwarfs’ getups have a color-coded finesse they probably never had in any movie print. There’s no mistaking, say, Sneezy for Doc or Bashful or Dopey or Happy.
Some of the DVD’s menus, aimed at first-time users, are so excessively explanatory you’ll soon want to skip over them. (The magic mirror’s prompts asking you to choose which options you want are funny — once.) A click of the remote takes you more directly to a diamond mine of extras — early sketches, scrapped scenes, testimony from Walt’s artists, and clips of Walt basically taking royal-we credit for everything on his old ’50s TV show. All this stuff won’t be news to laserdisc diehards, since most of it was recycled from an earlier deluxe laser package, but everybody else should be wowed. (The only irksome omission: There’s no alternate music-only track, the laser’s very best feature, which lets you hear the picture’s brilliant underscoring in higher-quality audio than on the main soundtrack. So don’t ditch that CAV disc on eBay just yet.)
It’s impossible to feel grumpy about these flaws for long, though, as the main feature is now genuinely the fairest Disney ‘toon of all.