Friday, September 26, 2014

Snow White: Grimm vs Disney

"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall,

Who in this realm is fairest of them all?

These are perhaps the most iconic lines from the tale Snow White, both the Disney and original version by the brothers Grimm, and even though the Disney version does stick mainly to the original plot, there are some rather large differences between the two.

The most obvious and at the same time least obvious is the change in the Dwarves. Not much detail is shown about the Dwarves in the original tale so we don't really know if they had names or what their personalities were like or if they were just duplicates of each other. The adding of these details takes away the focus from Snow White and puts in on the dwarves allowing them to in essence become the new main characters of the fairy tale. In the movie, the plot and entertainment does not truly start until the dwarves are on screen as they are much more dynamic than Snow White. They also need Snow White in a childlike way in the movie, their house is a mess, they can't cook and they don't bathe. Whereas in the tale, everything in their home is "indescribably...neat" and they only let her stay because they feel sorry for her. Disney probably added these characteristics to the Dwarves to make the whole movie more entertaining overall, add comedy and to help balance out the incredibly passive- almost to the point of being boring- Snow White.

Disney does not completely change the Dwarves purpose however, he still has them protect Snow White and keep her in a traditionally feminine role. In both the tale and the movie, the dwarves protect Snow White in their home from the Queen. In the movie, their protection is continued when they chase the Queen away from their house and ultimately to her death. They keep Snow White in traditional female gender roles by keeping her in the house, cooking and cleaning.
The Evil Queen also changes; she is seen as more of a sorceress in the movie, casting a spell to make the mirror work as opposed to the tale where she merely begins to talk to it and it responds. The process of her making the apple is also gone into more in depth. The circumstance of her death is the greatest change of the Evil Queen; instead of being forced to dance in red hot slippers until she dies, she inadvertently kills herself in trying to kill the Dwarves as the cliff side crumbles. Disney probably made this change to make the movie more acceptable to children and to help preserve the innocence of Snow White and the goodness of the prince- both of whom would have needed to mercilessly watch the Queen dance to her death. This was also probably to keep with the times of the depression to enforce that if you are a good person, good things will happen and if you are a bad person, bad things will happen to you possibly by your own hand.

The prince is also given a larger part in the movie and has more of a central focus. He is still seen as the savior; however he takes a more active role in saving Snow White by kissing her instead of the apple just getting jolted out of her mouth by accident. This change was most likely made to help reinforce the idea that women need a man to 'save' and fulfill them.

Snow White also changes in the movie; although she is still incredibly naïve and innocent, she is portrayed as older. This change was made to match the audience’s idea of a proper marrying age, which was older than the age of around fourteen she likely was in the tale.

The changes Disney made to the Grimm’s version of the tale Snow White were to help match it to his ideals, the ideals of the time, and to spread some joy and hope in the midst of the depression.

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