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(Diamond Edition)

The challenge of review a film like SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS ($40) is trying to find something new to say about this undisputed animated masterpiece. After giving it much consideration, I’ve determined that there is nothing new that can be said about the film itself. However, when one looks at this seventy-plus-year-old film from the perspective of what digital technology has done to bring the film back to its original luster… and then some, one can get excited about talking about the beauty of the film and things, one may have never noticed or been able to scrutinize before the advent of high definition.

In 1937, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS was something of a gamble for Walt Disney, as it was the first feature-length animated motion picture ever produced and there was no guarantee that audiences would sit still for a long form cartoon. Of course, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS proved itself meticulously crafted Technicolor triumph, which was both a commercial and critical success on its original theatrical release. Fast-forward seven decades… after numerous theatrical and home video releases, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS has been preserved and restored, with digital restorative techniques stripping away the years, thus leaving only the master craftsmanship of the original hand drawn and hand painted cell animation to be enjoyed in the clarity of high definition.

Blu-ray truly allows audiences to marvel at SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS in a way that has never been possible before- even in the original Technicolor prints in 1937. After watching the Blu-ray, I have to say my appreciation for the film has never been greater. However, perhaps the biggest thing I took away from this high definition release is the fact that the Blu-ray documents that SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is a production that sailed through uncharted waters, with the Disney style and film technique still undergoing refinement as the animation cels were in front of the cameras. To really see what I am talking about, double feature the stunning Blu-ray release of PINOCCHIO with SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS.

For those who have never seen SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, the story has been adapted from the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. As the film opens, we are introduced to the vain and wicked Queen, who keeps her beautiful stepdaughter, the Princess Snow White, as a scullery maid in the castle. Every day the Queen asks of her Magic Mirror "who is fairest one of all?" and everyday the Mirror responds that Queen is the fairest. However, as Snow White grows towards womanhood, she becomes more and more beautiful, and one day, the Mirror finally advises the Queen of her greatest fear, that Snow White is now the fairest in all the land. Enraged, the Queen orders her Huntsman to take Snow White off into the forest and kill her… and to bring back the Princess’s heart in a jeweled box, as proof of the deed. However, the Huntsman takes pity on the young princess, and sends her off into the forest to hide, instead of taking her life. Lost, deep within the forest, Snow White stumbles upon the home of the Seven Dwarfs, who ultimately offer the princess the protection of their isolated home. Eventually, the Queen discovers that Snow White still lives, a situation, which she decides to rectify personally. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS features the vocal talents of Roy Atwell, Stuart Buchanan, Adriana Caselotti, Eddie Collins, Pinto Colvig, Marion Darlington, Billy Gilbert, Otis Harlan, Lucille La Verne, James Macdonald, Scotty Mattraw, Moroni Olsen and Harry Stockwell.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. As I stated above, the 1080p presentation for SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS allows one an unparalleled opportunity to view the beauty of this animated masterpiece, with the highest levels of clarity and detail. Image sharpness is usually very impressive, but there are shots, with focus issues that are attributable to the original photography. Colors reproduction is virtually flawless, without a trace of smearing to the splashes of bold colors that leap out from the forest of pastel hues. Blacks are pure ebony and the whites are perfectly crisp. The film elements from which SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS has been mastered have been digitally rejuvenated to virtual perfection, with nary a blemish to be seen. Minimal grain remains, but it doesn’t appear that image detail is diminished in any way.

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that this soundtrack is more than seventy years old, it sounds surprisingly good, with the lossless encode eking out every bit of fidelity from the vintage recordings. Sure, there are limitations, but the track remains remarkably pleasant sounding with the application of amplification. All of the classic songs come across without any excessive thinness and a respectable bottom end. Stereo and surround imaging is good, but never artificially overdone. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. As expected, background hiss and the other age related audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves the track with a reasonably smooth sonic quality. A cleaned up version of the film’s original theatrical soundtrack is also present on this release, as are French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks. English and Spanish subtitles are also provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across this set. Disc one features a running Audio Commentary with film historian John Canemaker, along with archival comments from Walt Disney. A Disney View mode is also included, which replaces the black bars on the sides of the image with related artwork. Snow White Returns is a nine-minute look at a proposed sequel to the classic. A pair of Deleted Scenes are also included on the first disc. A new Music Video for the song Someday My Prince Will Come by Tiffany Thornton is also provided. Family Play offers a number of interactive games. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Moving onto disc two, one will find additional supplemental programs. The One that Started It All is a seventeen minute program that looks at the historic significance of the feature. Under Hyperion Studios one will find the following extensive collection of Featurettes, Shorts and other programs: Where It All Began (twelve minutes), The One That Started It All (seventeen minutes), Family Business (two minutes), Stories From The Story Room (one minute), Five Bucks A Gag (two minutes), In Walt's Words: The Huntsman (three minutes), Walt's Night Prowls (one minute), Gabby, Blabby, And Flabby (one minute), Babes In The Woods (eight minutes), Music Room Host (one minute), David Hand's Dirty Trick (one minute), The Music Of Snow White (six minutes), The Skeleton Dance (six minutes), Creating The World Of Snow White (seven minutes), The Idea Man (two minutes), Music Land (ten minutes), In Walt's Words: Cleaning The Cottage (seven minutes), In Walt's Words: The Dwarfs (six minutes), Setting The Stage (four minutes), Bringing Snow White To Life (twelve minutes), The Animators' Favorite Animators (two minutes), Blowing Off Steam (two minutes), Goddess Of Spring (ten minutes), Playful Pluto (eight minutes), Live Action Host (one minute), Drawing On Real Life (two minutes), Giving Voice To Snow White (three minutes), Sweatbox Host (one minute), Sweating It Out (one minute), Deleted Bedroom Fight Scene (two minutes), The Challenges Of Ink And Paint (two minutes), Life In The Nunnery (two minutes), Flowers And Trees (nine minutes), Decoding The Exposure Sheet (seven minutes), Stories From The Camera Department (two minutes), The Old Mill (nine minutes), Walt's Early Masters Of Sound (two minutes), Steamboat Willie (eight minutes) and Working With Walt (two minutes). Disc Three offers a DVD edition of the film for those who will make the eventual transition to Blu-ray and don’t want to miss out on this hi-def release.

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is not only a film of incredible beauty; it is also one of historic and cultural significance. The Blu-ray presentation is indeed glorious and a must have for any animation fan. Absolutely, positively recommended.



Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + BD Live w/ Blu-ray packaging) [Blu-ray] (1937)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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