When you think about Snow White, chances are, you picture the Disney version of this lovable young princess. She was brought to life as Disney’s first full-length feature production in 1938. Since then, Snow White has become a household name around the globe.
But the Disney Corporation didn’t actually create Snow White. The idea came from the 19th-century fairy tale published in 1812 by the German Brothers Grimm. Snow White was Tale 53 in the Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Disney took the premise and updated it to become their copyrighted version known as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
While the Brothers Grimm may have introduced the world to Snow White, Disney played the starring role in making her a celebrity. Today, we can see her mark in popular culture in various places, from the world-famous Disneyland and Disney World to retail and even in the food industry.
How it All Began
Anyone who has seen or read the famous script of Snow White can recite the most popular lines in the movie: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” This quote began the film and thus started the spiral of the evil queen’s beautiful stepdaughter’s fate.
The queen orders a woodsman to kill Snow White, but instead, he warns her off, and she runs into the woods to hide. There, she befriends the woodland animals, who take her to a cottage owned by seven lovable dwarves. They sing the catchy tune, “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go,” which has been hummed and sung by millions of people since then as they head off to their jobs or to work on chores.
Of course, what would a Disney princess movie be like without a prince to save the damsel in distress? Today, it’s often the princess saving the prince, but when Snow White first appeared on the big screen, the world was quite different.
Snow meets her prince once, they fall instantly in love, and when the evil queen tracks Snow down and poisons her with an apple, the prince comes by and kisses her awake.
How This Script Impacted Culture
Do any of these scenarios sound like something you’ve seen since then, either in the real world or in a movie? They should. Since Disney first released the animated feature in Technicolor, it has impacted the culture and lives of billions of people.
Against popular belief that the film would tank, Snow White ended up grossing $8 million, a massive sum of that time, particularly if you consider it was released during the Great Depression. To put it in context, $8 million was the largest amount made by any movie up until then.
It makes sense that other movie writers and authors would want to cash in on some of that success. Since the release of the film, other movies followed suit, focusing on a prince and princess in pursuit of happily ever after (even if they’d only met once and were both relatively young), an evil villain out to destroy that happiness and a host of side characters determined to help the hero and heroine succeed.
Of course, this genre impacted the movie-making world in other ways, too. Other filmmakers left the royalty aspect out and simply focused on two unlikely characters finding true love and their happily ever after amidst a struggle that was determined to keep them apart.
Where You’ll See Snow White’s Impact Outside of the Movies
As unique as we all are individually, one thing almost all of us have in common is our love for a good movie. It’s a commonality that influences our collective behaviors as we become engrossed on the success of our favorite characters, and we bring those fictional people into our lives in other ways.
With Snow White, we see the impact of the movie in Disney’s still-popular retail options. Clothing, purses, memorabilia, accessories, and other mementoes show Snow White, the dwarves, and many of the popular sayings from the script. You’ll even find gooseberry-pie recipes dedicated to the dwarves’ favorite meal. (Yes, it was even Grumpy-approved.)
The prince-and-princess fairy tale spawned a host of other love stories. Without Snow White’s influence, who knows if the true love of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Rapunzel would have appeared.
And we know that without the evil queen’s magic mirror, the modern crowd favorite Shrek wouldn’t have been nearly as funny. Lord Farquaad used the famous mirror/TV screen to learn about other kingdoms and Shrek’s rise in popularity.
The poisonous apple was another important inanimate side character. With this plot line, food became synonymous with temptation in children’s books everywhere. An offshoot of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, and the downfall of humanity, using enchanted apples was an easy segue into the warnings of temptation.
Now, other stories and movies have used enchanted items similarly. Sleeping Beauty had the enchanted spinning wheel and spindle. The Beast had an enchanted rose counting down to the end of the spell and warning him that he’d forever be an animal if he didn’t learn how to love.
These elements of symbolism merged with pop culture and show up in songs, books, clothing, food recipes, and even on household appliances. You can easily find references to your favorite character’s enchantment on decorative items if you decide to use the theme in your home.
The World Without Snow White Would Be Less Colorful
Snow White was released in the lesser-known beauty of Technicolor, bringing viewers into the world of hues that made the movie more magical. But aside from this new marvel, Snow White brought color to us in so many other ways.
Without this film, it’s possible that we wouldn’t have so many other favorites that have become classics over the years. Walt Disney took a risk producing an animated film, especially during the Great Depression. His risk paid off, and we are a better, more colorful world because of it.
Snow White’s ruby red lips, candy apple red poisonous fruit, and bright yellow dress are a few of the things we can quickly list off about her colorful scenes. The brightness and happiness the movie brought to us, though, goes well beyond these simple attributes. The world would truly be a less colorful place without Disney’s version of this princess.