The new Walt Disney Signature Edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, currently available on Blu-ray, Digital HD, and Disney Movies Anywhere, is a superlative presentation of the timeless, groundbreaking film. Not only is the presentation peerless, but the Blu-ray release comes fully loaded with terrific special features.
So many special features in fact, that it took us the better part of an afternoon just to go through all of them. If you’re wondering what you can expect from this new Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs package, look no further. Below is everything you can expect from this exemplary release.
In Walt’s Words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (4:22) This is a wonderful little short, especially if you don’t have time to go through the whole commentary track. It features archival recordings of Walt Disney from a series of interviews conducted in 1956 and starts off with rare footage of Walt as he signs the distribution agreement with RKO Pictures on March 2, 1936. In the audio, Walt talks about the studio’s financial ups and downs, how the press widely referred to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as “Disney’s folly,” and how the success of the film led to the start of “a whole new era” for the studio. It’s really wonderful, especially since the audio ends with Walt’s infectious laugh. It’s a condensed history of the entire production, that will get more fully explored in other supplements.
Iconography (7:16) The conceit behind this brand new special feature is that imagery from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “continues to influence pop culture today.” Various professionals inspired by the film are interviewed, including Nathan Sawaya, LEGO artist; Brittney Lee, Art Director at Walt Disney Animation Studios; Sarah Banet-Weiser, Professor and Director, School of Communication, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; and Leslie Kay, creator of DisneyBound. This really brings the film into contemporary context. And at the end of the feature, many of the participants produced new pieces of artwork inspired by the film.
@DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney’s First Princess (5:16) This is a round table-type of discussion with several key creative members of Walt Disney Animation Studios looking at drawings and sketches from the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Animator Mark Henn, Art Director Michael Giaimo, Art Director Bill Schwab, and Art Director Lorelay Bové, discuss the various animators and artists that contributed to the original film and what each of them brought to the film—people like animator Fred Moore and Grim Natwick (designer of Betty Boop), who worked on Snow White designs.
The Fairest Facts of Them All: 7 Things You May Not Know About Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (4:37) Hosted by Sofia Carson from Descendants, this is a rundown of facts from the film, with spritely graphics and Carson’s charming narration.
Snow White in 70 Seconds (1:12) Brief but memorable, and insanely catchy, this short video features a rap by a young girl running down the basic narrative of the film and is rendered in a charming scrapbook visual aesthetic.
Alternate Sequence: The Prince Meets Snow White (3:39) As the preface explains, in story meetings between September, 1936 and May, 1937, Walt and his team of artists worked out the details of Snow White Sequence 2A, the famous first meeting of the Prince and Snow White. Recreation drawn from transcripts from the Walt Disney Archives, paired with story sketches from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, tell the story of how the sequence was initially envisioned and then refined and finessed. It’s interesting to see Walt dissecting the scene and hearing the influence of people like Larry Morey, an invaluable story man who also provided the movie’s songs.
Disney’s First Feature: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (33:15) This is a wonderful documentary, which gives you a great overview of the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs without ever going into so much detail that it becomes overwhelming. There are a number of notable interviewees, including film historian Brian Sibley, composer Michael Giacchino, historian John Canemaker, animator Eric Goldberg, director John Musker, and author Neal Gabler, alongside vintage interviews from folks like animators Ward Kimball (who recounts the famous anecdote that Walt offered anyone $5 for gags for the movie; $10 if it made it into the final movie) and Marc Davis, who went on to become an influential Imagineer.
Bringing Snow White to Life (11:35) Animator Andreas Deja hosts this fascinating documentary about the animators who taught the famous Nine Old Men—the geniuses who made their mark on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Great stuff.
Hyperion Studio Tour (30:36) Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton introduces this piece about the famous Hyperion Studio in Silverlake. This was the original studio Walt Disney and his brother Roy founded, and was where production on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs took place. Through archival footage, photographs, and audio interviews, you get a real sense of the wild imagination and unchained tomfoolery that seemed to vibrate through the halls (we love the story about one animator who had a pet turtle at work; the other animators would pull a prank on him where they would replace the turtle with other, much bigger turtles). It was that spirit that made its way into the DNA of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and made it so special.
Decoding the Exposure Sheet (6:49) Beauty and the Beast producer Don Hahn looks at scene 2A (the first meeting of the Prince and Snow White) once again, although this time he goes through the notes and marginalia on an exposure sheet. An exposure sheet was a kind of chart that the animator would put up on their desk, with each line on an exposure sheet representing one frame of film, with accompanying notes, technical considerations, and other details (like how Snow White’s shadow would have to go through a double exposure photography process in order for it to be more transparent). This is really fascinating and intricate, and shows you just how much hard work and attention to detail went into Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ production.
Snow White Returns (8:44) Don Hahn is back at the Animation Research Library for a discovery that was made during the production of the “Diamond Edition” release of Snow White a few years ago. It was a folder marked Snow White Returns, which Hahn believes was intended to be a short and was workshopped sometime after the film was initially released. The sequence, charmingly narrated by Hahn from those original notes, basically cobbled together two scenes that were famously left out of the original film: The bed building sequence and the soup eating sequence (Both are included elsewhere on the disc.). The short would have followed the Dwarfs getting ready for Snow White’s annual visit and was really pretty great. But, as Hahn remarks, the mystery as to why it was shelved remains. Still, Hahn considers this a “missing piece of history from the golden age of Disney animation.” You will too.
Story Meeting: The Dwarfs (5:51) Featuring an introduction from Moana director John Musker, this is a reenactment of remarks transcribed from the time of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ production. In the discussion, animators, story artists, and Walt himself weigh in on everything from how the characters walk to how they swing their axes, to the size of the house they live in, and more. There’s particular emphasis on Dopey, who was a notoriously difficult dwarf to pin down. Like many of the other special features, this really works because the recreations give it a you-are-there feeling of intimacy.
Story Meeting: The Huntsman (8:44) Musker’s creative partner Ron Clements gives the introduction for this piece, which is structured similarly to the Dwarfs piece, but instead focuses on the Huntsman sequence and the scenes that followed. The same principles are involved, this time talking about the suspense needed for the Huntsman sequence, with more great comments from Larry Morey. Our favorite bit is the explanation for the psychological underpinnings of Snow White’s misfortune in the spooky forest, and how, from their perspective at least, everything was happening exclusively in her mind.
Deleted Scene: Soup Eating Sequence (4:07) This is a roughly animated version of the famous soup eating sequence, which the animators toiled on (Neal Gabler’s Walt Disney biography said that as much as a year-and-a-half of work had already been committed to it) but was removed late in production. The character animation, even in this early form, was jaw-dropping.
Deleted Scene: Bed Building Sequence (6:28) Another sequence, animated on a basic level, but removed from the film at a similar late date (this one is about the Dwarfs building Snow White a bed). Again, this is lovely and it’s wonderful that it survived all of these years.
Animation Voice Talent (6:20) Based primarily around archival footage of animators Ollie Johnson and Frank Thomas (with more current commentators), this goes into the casting process that Walt and his collaborators went through in making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There are terrific little anecdotes about the animators calling on vaudeville actors and other oddballs to give the movie its fairy tale vibe. Andriana Caselotti, for instance, was cast because her voice had the “otherworldly quality” that Walt was looking for.
Audio Commentary (Feature length running time) Roy E. Disney introduces this audio commentary, compiled mostly of Walt Disney audio files recorded over three decades, embellished by context and commentary by historian John Canemaker (who introduces the film by saying how it influenced everything from Orson Welles’ immortal Citizen Kane to MGM’s similarly beloved The Wizard of Oz). This is totally wonderful and adds another layer of enjoyment to watching the film in high definition.