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The Pioneering Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Mar 25, 2008
The creation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs began sometime in early 1934. This was Walt Disney's first effort at producing an animated feature. To this point, Disney had successfully produced a series of animated shorts entitled The Alice Comedies as well as Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies.

This was a risk for Disney as no one had ever tried such a feat. He had projected the cost of production at a staggering $250,000. This was roughly ten times the cost of an average animated short. Indeed, Disney had to mortgage his home, while knocking on every studio door in Hollywood. When all was said and done, by 1937, Disney had managed to raise the massive sum of $1.5 million! The production spanned three years, wherein Disney pioneered a plethora of techniques that would come to be industry standards. Among these techniques was the use of rotoscope animation, which allowed live-action actors to be overlaid with animation cells, creating the illusion of realistic movement. Additionally, Disney pioneered brilliant effects animation and the use of the multi-plane camera, which allowed him to create and capture groundbreaking three-dimensional scenes.

When it came to the dwarves, Disney had always wanted Grumpy. He asked his animators to pool together about fifty different names and personalities for the dwarves. Among the abandoned names were such standouts as Blabby, Shifty, Awful, Biggy, Burpy, Cranky, Daffy, Dippy, Helpful, Lazy, Puffy, Scrappy, Silly, Sleazy, Tearful, Tipsy, Tubby, Weepy, and Woeful. The seven that were finally created, were, of course, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey, and Doc.

Besides the animation and loveable characters, it was the music of Snow White that enthralled the audience. The music was composed by Frank Churchill, Larry Morey, and Paul J. Smith and included such classics as "Heigh-Ho," "Some Day My Prince Will Come," and "Whistle While You Work." The soundtrack was in such demand, that it was released along with the theatrical release. Indeed, Snow White is the first film in history to have a separate soundtrack released. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made its premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles on December 21, 1937. The premiere was met with a standing ovation from such well-heeled luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Judy Garland, Carole Lombard, John Barrymore, and Marlene Dietrich. It was hailed as a daring new step in not only animation, but filmmaking in general. It was the top grossing film of 1938. In fact, it is still one of the highest grossing films in history, adjusting for inflation. It was a resounding victory for Walt Disney, both creatively and monetarily. The proceeds from Snow White would see Disney Studios relocate from Silver Lake, a suburb of Los Angeles to Burbank. Moreover, it would deservingly earn Disney an honorary Academy Award for "significant screen innovation."
About the Author
Steve Collins is an Author and Journalist based in Encino, California. A huge Disney Fan, he uses the Disney Movie Club to complete his collection. Read reviews of the movies he buys at the Disney Movie Club
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