Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is old. To add some perspective, my 89-year-old grandpa was only 15 when Walt Disney changed film-making forever. What Disney found in feature length animation was a means to entertain all age groups, for all time. With that, it's serendipitous that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs offers us the classic tale of old and young: age can either fight youth and die by it or, age can welcome youth and be reinvigorated by it.
Age and beauty is only relative right? And, the way the Queen figures, she will remain youthful and "the fairest in all the land" if she merely eliminates the younger and more beautiful Snow White - step-filicide! But, alas, the Queen's jealousy-fueled scheming is predictably foiled and she eventually loses the ultimate battle with age (death) after she jumps out of the proverbial boiling cauldron and into the fire by ironically choosing to erase all semblance of her own beauty and youth (by becoming the Old Peddler/Witch) in her last ditch effort to destroy the true essence of youth and beauty - Snow White.
However, age versus youth isn't the heart of this story, it's age living among youth that really makes this story sing! When Snow White first finds refuge in the Dwarfs' cottage, the cynical may roll their eyes at the young princess immediately falling into the tired old gender role of sweeping away cobwebs and scrubbing dishes in their squalid little home. But, if you look a little deeper, Miss White is really stripping away at the monotony and stagnancy that the tired old proletarians have fallen into in their advanced age. The imagery even gets downright biblical when Snow fills up a basin of soapy water and forces her little friends to wash-up in a way that invokes baptism or rebirth (but not in a creepy/solemn religious way). It's no mistake that the next time we see the Dwarfs, they're having a raucous jamboree - tickling the ivories of their newly dusted off pipe organ and dancing around like a bunch of squirrely teenagers!
Walt Disney recognized the importance of the relationship betwixt age and youth. This is why he found so much personal success and has been able to bridge the gap between age and time around the world through his animation and theme parks. It's no accident that Walt chose Snow White as his maiden voyage in illustrating this. Sure, the Dwarfs were up to their necks in diamonds and LITERALLY filthy rich but it wasn't until Snow White/Snow White that both Walt and the Dwarfs found true wealth and youth in age.
On a more whimsical note...
Am I crazy or is Snow White awfully Betty Boop-ish? She has that same chubby face, a similar hairdo and they both speak in that same high-pitch, baby doll voice. There was even a Betty Boop as Snow White cartoon short that came out four years before Disney's feature length version! Hmm...
Methinks the Huntsman, who the Queen employs to kill Snow White, may be an Armenian. He looks to be rather hirsute and swarthy, has a unibrow and wears a line-beard! Although, through a rather cursory perusal of the internets, I can't find any evidence of Armenians making it out to Bavaria during the early 1700s... but you never know!
On returning home from the diamond mines, the Dwarfs discover their cottage looks to be occupied and, in unison, exclaim "Jiminy Crickets!" Jiminy Cricket (a commonly minced oath for "Jesus Christ!") would go on to star in Walt Disney's next feature length animated film, Pinocchio (1940).
From the Queens big book of Disguises we learn that the main ingredient in the "Peddler's Disguise" is Mummy's Dust. Good to know!
The morning of Snow White's poisoning at the hands of the disguised Queen, Doc warns her of the "Queen's witchcraft" and to "beware of strangers." Then, Grumpy follows with "don't let nothin' or nobody in the house!" Also, when the Queen first approaches the cottage and offers her the apple, all of her little woodland friends attack her only for Snow White to defend the old crone by shooing the animals away and she STILL lets her in and eats the apple!
Does Snow White love Grumpy? And, even worse, is the pie she makes for him with his name on it an allusion to something else? When the Queen sees the pie she even incorporates it into a creepy and suggestive sales pitch for her big red poison apple: "it's apple pie that makes the men's folk's mouths water." Ewwwww...
The Queen refers to the face in the mirror as her "slave in the magic mirror" and he both looks and sounds kinda black. However, the voice of the mirror is that of Moroni Olsen, a white guy, but still...
Did anyone else notice the two buzzards that first appear during the Queen-as-the-Old-Peddler's trek to the Dwarfs' cottage? In that scene, they give each other that "somebody is about to die and we're about to eat" look. Then, guess who's there and swoops down after the Queen when she falls to her death? That's a nice touch. Well played, Walt!
Oops! I forgot to mention the Prince… actually, no, I didn’t. Prince Charming and his love story with Snow White are easily the weakest, least significant and most boring parts of the story.
I've realized that Bashful is my favourite Dwarf. I found myself laughing out loud every time he blushed beet red and gave out a sheepish "gawsh" during every interaction with Snow White. Who is YOUR favourite Dwarf?