There’s really no point in trying to review Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s a true classic and a vital piece of both animation and film history. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the film’s importance.
Walt Disney broke new ground in 1937 with his unprecedented full-length animated feature. I think it’s safe to say that without Snow White, the ensuing 80 years would’ve looked a heckuva lot different.
Therefore, with the newest Blu-ray release of the film coming out this week, I’m not even going to attempt to review the film. Because really, what’s the point?
Instead, let’s take a look at what distinguishes this “Signature Collection” edition and how it compares to the 2009 “Diamond Edition” Blu-ray release. First and foremost, it should be stated that the video and audio are identical between the two releases. This is certainly not a slight against the new edition. The high-definition version of Snow White is utterly breathtaking. Pop it into your Blu-ray player, and you can probably convince the kids it’s a brand-new film. The colors leap off the screen, and there’s nary a scratch or blemish to be found. The film literally looks like it could’ve been made last year. It’s gorgeous.
Both versions also include an English 7.1 audio track along with a restored original soundtrack. Also available is an audio track that compiles historical recordings of Walt Disney (along with animation historian John Canemaker) talking about the film.
Those are the big similarities. What are the big differences? Well, this is the first time the film is available on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere. Pick up the Blu-ray combo pack, and you’ve also got the digital version. I wish every film did this. Also, the recently discovered and restored Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short “Hungry Hobos” is a digital exclusive.
The on-screen menu is also different. This may not seem like a big deal, but I think this was actually a change for the worse. The new menu is gorgeous but rather generic. The 2009 edition features a menu with the magic mirror who talks to and interacts with you, welcoming you back if you haven’t watched in a while and reacting to the selections you make. It’s gimmicky, sure, but it’s incredibly entertaining and has a lot of personality.
The 2009 edition spreads out the special features over two discs, which seems a little unnecessary for what it offers. This new edition packs everything onto a single disc. For those of you who still buy physical media, you might be interested to know about the special features available. Well, here goes….
What’s the same? In addition to the audio, video, and commentary, there are a few special features that are on both editions.
- “Disney’s First Feature: The Making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is called “The One That Started It All” on the 2009 edition and is a short doc that puts the film in a historical context.
- “Hyperion Studios Tour” is a short that takes the viewer on a tour of Disney’s Hyperion Studios through archival footage.
- “Snow White Returns” is a reconstruction that uses sketches to show what might have been a sequel to the film.
- Two deleted scenes: the soup-eating sequence and the bed-building sequence
- “Animation Voice Talent” is a short that’s focused on the voice actors featured in Snow White
What’s new? Aside from the menu, there are quite a few differences and special features that are new to the 2016 edition.
- “In Walt’s Words” is a 4-minute compilation of archival recordings from a 1956 interview Walt Disney gave about the development of the film.
- “Iconography” is a 7-minute short that focuses on a trio of modern artists who were inspired by Snow White and have used the film’s iconic images (mirror, apple, and wishing well) in their art.
- “@DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney’s First Princess” is a 5-minute roundtable chat with four art directors about the development and conceptualization of Snow White as a character.
- “Fairest Facts of Them All” features Sofia Carson from The Descendants as she presents seven facts about Snow White, BuzzFeed style.
- “Snow White in 70 Seconds” tells the story of Snow White in 70 seconds, as a pop song.
- There is an alternate version of the sequence where Snow White meets the prince. The scene is brought to life with original sketches and voice recreation (i.e., a voice actor standing in for Walt Disney).
- “Bringing Snow White to Life” is a 12-minute doc about the animators who taught and inspired the Nine Old Men. This is probably the best bonus feature on the disc.
- “Decoding the Exposure Sheet” is a 6-minute doc with Don Hahn about some technical aspects of making the film.
- There are two shorts that focus on story meetings Walt held during production. One focuses on the dwarfs and the other is on the huntsman. Each feature dialogue reenactment (from notes) that reveal some insight into Walt’s creative process.
What’s missing (from the 2009 edition)? In short, not much. You likely won’t miss most of these, with the possible exception of one.
- “Disney Through the Decades” is the one you might miss. This extra features almost all of the trailers produced for the film, from 1937 to today, for all of its theatrical and home video releases.
- “The Princess and the Frog Sneak Peek”
- “Some Day My Prince Will Come Music Video” sung by Tiffany Thornton
- “Heigh-Ho Karaoke Singalong”
- Five different interactive DVD games
Do I recommend the new Signature Collection edition of Snow White? If you don’t already own a copy of Snow White, then it’s a no-brainer. You’ll be blown away by the image quality, and it’s a stunning piece of film history any fan of animation should own.
What if you already own the 2009 edition? This is tougher. If you’re a big fan of special features, then there’s a lot of new stuff here, but I don’t think I’d recommend picking up another copy of the film on the strength of those features alone. There’s really not much there to satisfy you beyond a single viewing. Since the video and audio of the film itself are unchanged, you’re probably safe giving this one a pass.