Certainly the film that "started it all" (including product tie-ins at the time of theatrical release), "Snow White" is a film that definitely remains one of Disney's most adored animated offerings. At this point, nearly everyone likely knows the story of "Snow White"; Snow White (voiced by Adriana Caselotti) is a beautiful, sweet young woman who becomes the enemy of the wicked Queen after the Queen's magic mirror proclaims her only the second most beautiful in the land.
Fleeing to the forest after a failed assassination attempt (and this is G-rated?), Snow White takes up with the seven dwarfs: Doc, Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy and Dopey, who help her out in-between their journeys to the mine. Of course, the Queen finds that Snow White is still alive and attempts to take care of her herself, with a poisoned apple.
I'm sure everyone knows how things work out. "Snow White", as detailed in one of the many featurettes about the film included on this DVD, was widely regarded as a high risk when it was originally concieved by the studio. People thought that no one or very few would be interested in sitting through a feature-length animated story. Still, Walt Disney and his talented group of animators were able to prove the critics wrong, as the film combined well-written stories, beautiful animation, a strong villian and the occasional touch of humor. Certainly, "Snow White" doesn't offer the same sort of quick pace that most current animated films do, but the 84 minute running time still flies by nicely.
The film's beautiful and detailed animation still stands up nicely today; although it doesn't compare to the sort of gorgeous computer animation that has become more and more popular in the past few years, the painted images appear more magnificent than ever on this new Blu-Ray presentation, which offers the film in a restored edition.
Also included is a DVD version of the film. The DVD version of the film offers the commentary, music video and promotional featurette for "The Princess and the Frog". The remainder of the extras are on the Blu-Ray discs.
Featurette: Creating Snow White
Featurette: The Story Teller
Snow White: Diamond Edition Trailer
VIDEO: The Blu-Ray edition of the film (1.33:1/AVC/1080p) looked quite astonishing, as the film's gorgeous animation has clearly never looked better than it does on this new release. Sharpness and detail are exceptional, as the image looked delightfully crisp and well-defined, with smaller details looking surprisingly sharp and clean during most scenes - some moments here-and-there looked a tad softer, but these instances were rare.
While a couple of slight instances of wear were seen, the majority of the film remained spotless. No edge enhancement, pixelation or other faults were noticed with the transfer. Colors also impressed, appearing fresh and bright, with spot-on saturation and no smearing or other issues. Overall, this presentation is certainly a success.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 7.1. The team responsible for the audio restoration of "Snow White" have repurposed the original soundtrack, but thankfully, they've remained faithful to the original intent. None of the birds now fly into the surrounds or around the viewer or anything like that; really, the only element that I heard from the surrounds was the occasional piece of music. Otherwise, the sound remains in the front speakers. While the effort deserves some credit, this could very well have been a 5.1 presentation; 7.1 seems excessive for "Snow White".
The real joy of the soundtrack is simply the fact that, due to the restoration, the elements sound better than they likely ever have on past releases. Sound effects don't sound thin or harsh, vocals and singing sound natural and not strained and even the music really sounded warmer and richer than ever before. It's certainly not been brought up to the level of modern soundtracks, but it certainly does at least sound better than ever before. The original mono soundtrack is also included. The new DTS-HD 7.1 presentation offered minimal improvement at best over the prior Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation from the DVD.
EXTRAS: Note - many of the excellent extras from the previous DVD special edition have not been brought over to this release - those who own the prior edition may want to hang on to it for that reason.
Commentary: This is a commentary from Walt Disney and historian John Canemaker. The Disney pieces of the commentary are taken from older audio interviews and provide some insight on the making of the film and its role in Disney history. Canemaker's narration is somewhat more interesting, as his newly recorded discussions provide further insight into the making of the picture, those involved in the animation, and its role in animation history.
Also included are a promotional featurette regarding Disney's upcoming "Princess and the Frog", with interviews and an extended clip from the animated feature. Additionally, a music video from Tiffany Thornton is offered, as are four interactive games ("Mirror, Mirror on the Wall", "Dopey's Wild Ride", "Jewel Jumble" and "What Do You See?") and a featurette on the voice work. There's also a karaoke sing-along for "Heigh Ho", as well.
Disney Through The Decades: Several short featurettes are offered in this section, each taking a look at what has happened at Disney studios during a different period in the years since "Snow White" originally opened. These featurettes are rather promotional and although they may prove of interest once, I don't think many will return to watch them over and over.
A pair of deleted scenes are offered in unfinished form, but of greater interest is "Snow White Returns", a series of newly found storyboards that would suggest that there was a possible sequel to "Snow White" in the planning stages. "The One That Started It All" is a nearly 20-minute overview of the production; while an enjoyable documentary, it doesn't go into particularly great depth.
While "The One That Started" could have been more in-depth, that's certainly not an issue with "Hyperion Studios", a multi-part tour of Walt's original studios, which breaks down into a series of different segments (story room, music room, art department, character design, background and layout, animation department, live action reference, sweatbox, ink and paint, camera department, sound stage and Walt's office.) These areas offer art galleries, featurettes, storyboards, abandoned concepts/ideas and much more.
Also included is a DVD edition of the film for those who do not own Blu-Ray yet, but plan to in the future.
Final Thoughts: Easily one of the best and most beloved animated features of all time, "Snow White" looks and sounds fantastic on this new Blu-Ray edition. While there are some very nice new bonus features included on this set, those who own the prior release and enjoy the terrific bonus features would be advised to keep it, as there are extras from that set that were not carried over for this release. Highly recommended.
The Film A