Disney Animated Features
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Release Date: 21 December 1937
The first full-length animated feature film ever. Walt Disney had been inspired to make the film after seeing a 1916 silent film version of the fairy tale. As his animation company became successful in the 1930's, he decided that the next step was to create a full-color, full-length, animated movie. This was a radical notion, considering that a scant eight years earlier, cartoons were black and white and had no synchronized sound.
Disney wagered pretty much the entire company on this film -- had it failed, there likely would be no Walt Disney Company today. There were plenty of critics who were positive that it would, in fact, fail -- after all, cartoons are for children, and no one would sit through almost ninety minutes of animation! They called it Disney's Folly.
Well, the critics were wrong. Way wrong. Heck, people actually watched Pokemon: The First Movie. Fortunately, Snow White is an excellent movie. It earned its creator a special Oscar in 1939 (actually one normal Oscar and seven miniature statuettes), presented to Walt Disney by Shirley Temple: "For Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, recognized as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field."
The story is relatively straightforward. A beautiful young princess; her jealous, wicked, stepmother, apparently a practicing witch, who wants her dead simply because the princess is more beautiful. Snow White (the princess) finds refuge at the home of the seven dwarfs (Doc, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, and Dopey), but the Queen finds the princess anyway and poisons her. It's up to Prince Charming to rescue the fair princess with a kiss and take her away to live happily ever after.
The film set many lasting precedents. It began a long tradition of high-quality animated features from Disney, most with songs. It was the first in a long line of Disney animated features to be nominated for a Best Music, Score Academy Award (although it did not win). And it proved to the world that a film's characters could be nothing more than drawings and voices and still capture the hearts of its audiences.
Information for the Disney Animated Features series of nodes comes from the IMDb (www.imdb.com), Frank's Disney Page (http://www.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de/~fp/Disney/), and the dark recesses of my own memory.