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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition (TheaterByte Blu-ray Review)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the one that started it all for Walt Disney. The first ever feature-length animated film, critics of the day called it “Disney’s folly.” Hardly anyone at the time believed a feature-length animated film could be successful, but Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would go on to be a hugely successful film, influencing the work of others even outside of its own genre of animation, such as The Wizard of Oz.

Snow_White_BDComboBox_art073009Walt Disney had been fascinated with the story ever since seeing a live-action silent film adaptation of the story in 1916. Like most Disney animated films, the story has its roots in the European faerie tales like those collected by the Brothers Grimm. The story is that of a beautiful young princess, Snow White, who comes of age and become so beautiful that her vain stepmother becomes jealous and decides to have her killed. The Queen sends her huntsman after Snow White to have her killed, but the huntsman grants Snow White a reprieve and she flees into a dark wood where she finds refuge amongst a group of seven dwarfs. The Queen, forever plotting, eventually poisons Snow White and Snow White falls into a deep sleep that can only be lifted by love’s true kiss from her prince.

Of course, in true Disney fashion, much of the darker elements of the traditional folktale are removed from this version of Snow White, including different attempts by Snow White’s stepmother to kill her. Even with the more diabolical elements of the story, which has many variations, left out, Snow White as told through the eyes of the Walt Disney animators has its moments of true horror and is very much a film of its time. It evokes elements of 1930’s horror films. Even more, it draws on the still evolving grand tradition of Hollywood special effects, like that of 1927 science fiction film Metropolis.

In order to elevate Snow White to a sophisticated level of filmmaking that the world of animation had never seen before, Walt Disney utilized his director’s eye and employed all the techniques of normal filmmaking to help move Snow White’s story forward. The pans, the edits, zooming — these were all things new or at least unusual in the world of animation. Walt was also ruthless in cutting any material he felt did not contribute to the story.

Although it has come to be associated with children’s entertainment, the film is a fantasy intended for adult audiences and there are some sequences that may be frightening for the very little ones among you, so make sure you watch it together with them. It’s a true classic and lasting evidence that animation is a true art form worthy of respect.

The Video

Snow White looks absolutely superb for its age in this new Diamond Edition from Disney. The studio continues to impress bringing their animated classics to high-definition on Blu-ray Disc. The 1.37:1 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding from Disney has brought the film back to life in spectacular fashion. Colors are nicely saturated, line art is clean, source damage is hardly noticeable and film grain is still there, but not overwhelming.  Blacks look deep and stable. Of course, due to its age, there are still some moments where the images look just a little soft, but it is never a distraction.

In comparison, the Diamond Edition DVD looks just a little bit softer overall with slightly more noticeable blocking in the fills and a bit less defined line art.

The Audio

Snow White’s sound has been remixed into a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack for this Diamond Edition Blu-ray Disc release. Of course, the sound is limited to mainly some nice panning across the three front channels and a good bit of expansive ambience in the surrounds. The LFE is put to good use, offering the occasional weighty “thump” when needed. Overall, things are surprisingly clean and crackle-free in this now seventy-year-old film. Also provided is the fully restored original soundtrack in a true monaural 1.0 Dolby Digital configuration.  There’s a bit more crackle there, but it has a fine amount of dynamics, still sounds very good for its age and provides a nice, historically accurate way to watch the film.

French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 dubbed versions are also offered.

The Supplements

With Snow White Disney continues their tradition of supplying their important animated releases with huge amounts of bonus features that provide hours of entertainment for the whole family.

The supplements available on this release are:

Disc 1:

  • The Princess and the Frog Sneak Peek (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:07.45) — The creators of Walt Disney’s forthcoming hand-drawn animated feature give pek at the first six minutes of The Princess and the Frog.
  • Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition:
    • Snow White Returns (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:08.44)
    • Deleted Scenes:
      • Soup eating sequence (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:04.07)
      • Bed building sequence (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:06.28)
    • Music & More
      • “Some Day My Prince Will Come” by Tiffany Thornton (1.33:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Family Play: Games & Activities (powered by BD-Live)
      • Mirror, Mirror on the Wall — The magic mirror will ask you questions and determine which Disney princess you are most like. Afterwards you or your child can enter your cell phone number to receive a special text message from your Disney princess.
      • What do you see? — Try to recognize the scrambled image as fast as you can. Select the correct answer at the bottom of the screen with your remote control. The faster you choose the correct answer, the more points you score. Single player and family mode (up to four players)
      • Jewel Jumble — A Tetris-like game with jewels and dwarfs.
      • Scene Stealer — Lets you play back a Snow White music video using photos of you and your family. You will need a Blu-ray player that is BD-Live capable and connected to the Internet and will need to logon to www.disneyscenestealer.com to upload your photos and receive your secret code.
    • Audio Commentary — A running audio commentary by Walt Disney himself put together by various recordings from throughout his life. This is a very interesting an informative commentary.

Disc 2:

  • Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition
    • Hyperion Studios (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1) — An interactive walk-through of the famous Hyperion Studios with a look at character sketches, storyboards, reenactments of staff meetings with Walt, interview segments with the animators and more.  This detailed bonus is chock-full of background information on Walt Disney, the production of Snow White and can take hours to get through. I’m quite certain that Disney fans will find all of this stuff very fascinating and kudos to Disney for providing this valuable and interesting information on this release.
    • The One That Started it All (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1; 0:17.15) — Film critics and historians and various members o the Disney animation family discuss the historic implications of Snow White in filmmaking history.
    • Classic DVD Bonus Features:
      • Animation Voice Talent (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:06.21) — Film historians discuss the casting of the voice talent for Snow White.
        • Disney Through the Decades with an introduction by John Ratzenberger (1.33:1; 480i/60)  — A history if Disney and Snow White over the decades with various trailers for the film interspersed:
        • The 1930s — Roy Disney talks about Disney animation during the 1930s
        • 1937 Trailer — 1937 trailer for Snow White
        • The 1940s — Angela Lansbury discusses Walt Disney during the 1940s as the studio faced financial difficulties due to war overseas.
        • 1944 Trailer — 1944 trailer for Snow White
        • The 1950s — Disney after the war years and their venture into television.
        • 1958 Trailer
        • The 1960s —  Robby Benson discusses Disney during the 1960s, their innovations in color television, successes in live-action filmmaking such as Mary Poppins, the 10th anniversary of Disneyland and the death of Walt Disney.
        • 1967 Trailer
        • The 1970s — Dean Jones discusses the opening of Disney World in Florida and the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney productions.
        • The 1980s — Jodi Benson talks about Walt Disney’s opening of Epcot Center, the first international Disney theme park in Tokyo and the launch of Walt Disney Home Video.
        • 1987 Trailer
        • The 1990s — Ming Na discusses the expansion of Disney into publishing, music, sports franchises and on to Broadway.
        • 1993 Trailer
        • A New Century [New] — John Ratzenberger discusses Disney in the new century.
        • 2001 Trailer
    • Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride
    • “Heigh-Ho” karaoke sing-along:
      • Sing-along
      • Karaoke
  • DVD — Standard Definition Diamond Edition DVD

The Final Assessment

Influential, ageless, timeless, and innovative Snow White has touched many generations. The film is one of, if not the most, beloved classics in the Disney canon. The studio has released it to Blu-ray Disc with obvious care and it should be grabbed up without hesitation.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition (TheaterByte Blu-ray Review)
4.8 / 5 TheaterByte Rating
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 User Rating (0 votes)
GRating Certificate
DisneyStudios & Distributors
William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben SharpsteenDirector
Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm, Ted Sears, Richard Creedon, Richard Creedon, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank, Webb SmithWriter
83 Mins.Run Time
$39.99MSRP
6 October 2009 (USA)Release Date
1.37:1Aspect Ratio
AVC 1080pVideo
English DTS-HD MA 7.1, English Dolby Digital 1.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1Audio
The Creative Content
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Summary
Disney's timeless first animated feature 'Snow White' sparkles in this Diamond Edition release.
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