(1965) Childhood Productions 72 minutes (November release)
National Screen Service #270
Music: Milton and Anne Delugg
Orchestrations: George Brackman
Musical Director: Lehmann Engel
Narrator: Paul Tripp
With: Elke Arendt (Snow White), Addi Adametz (Wicked Queen), Niels Clausnitzer (Prince Charming), Dietrich Thoms
DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!
SNOW WHITE is a magical fairy tale, one of the most attractive released by Childhood Productions. The source film, produced in West Germany by Schonger Films, features beautiful color design and settings, and at times is quite atmospheric, as are all of the Schonger fairy tales. SNOW WHITE features relatively lavish sets, and an impressive mixture of interior sets and exterior locations, including an actual castle.
In comparison with the Fritz Genschow fairy tales produced in East Germany at about the same time, the Schonger fairy tales tend to have more intimacy (two-shots and close-ups). The average Genschow fairy tale is often told largely in highly theatrical key shots. The Schonger films, with their reliance on interiors and camera movement, are quite cinematic, whereas the Genschow tales remind us often of live theatre.
Snow White (Elke Arendt) is stunning, a real beauty. The Wicked Queen (Addi Adametz) is beauty corrupted, and as such, is more terrifying than any mere monster could ever be. The fable (and the film) illustrate well the sometimes-deadly sexual jealousy between mother and daughter.
After a scary night in a stormy woods, and a close encounter with a giant bear (or rather, a man in a nifty bear costume, used to such good effect in Schongers’ SNOW WHITE & ROSE RED), the film really comes alive when Snow White reaches the dwarfs’ house.
The dwarfs’ house is a wonderfully designed set, with a fanciful color scheme and adorable little child-beds. The dwarfs’ little gold mine set, complete with rattling coal cars, is super-cool as well. Also impressive is the Wicked Queen’s ultra-modern witchcraft lab. Surely, fabulous production design is Schongers’ forte.
It is interesting that this film uses children to play the dwarfs, which makes sense in that the dwarfs are small, and intended to be allegorical children. However, it is somewhat perverse to see these little tykes sprouting enough facial hair to be Methuselah!
Also, the English-Language version uses children to dub the voices of the dwarfs, giving them a youthful aura they didn’t necessarily have originally.
As the dwarfs are not named in the original fairy tale, they are named differently in every film version of the tale. Disney, of course, monopolized the fairy tale for so long, most people actually think the dwarfs are named Sleepy, Wheezy, Grumpy, etc. In this film, they are named differently. And in THE SEVEN DWARFS TO THE RESCUE, for example, the leader of the dwarfs is dubbed “Toto” (!).
Attentive viewers may become frustrated at the hare-brained logic of the fable as it progresses. Certainly, Snow White and her guardians would be caught off-guard by the Wicked Queen’s first ambush. Yet it does seem curious that Snow White does not recognnize her terrifying and hated Stepmother in her meager disguises. And the dwarfs, knowing well the hazards which Snow White faces alone, should not have left her side for a minute until the matter was resolved. Thus, the little guys trundling off each morn to their gold mine seems a bit ill-advised. As well, Snow White accepting favors from strange women, when she knows that a very strange woman is out to kill her, paints her as either terribly naive, or worse, imbecilic.
Regardless, Snow White is an entirely sympathetic character, and even though you want to shout at the poor martyr, “Don’t eat the apple, you idiot!”, you still root for her eventual triumph.
The “death” of Snow White, replete with her repose in a gruesome gold-and-glass coffin, is a fairy tale moment of sublime angst, and it comes across well here. Prince Charming of course shows up to take the edge off the morbid scene, and all ends well.
SNOW WHITE is further enlivened by a terrific Anne & Milton Delugg score, with some memorable tunes. Colorful, lively and engaging, SNOW WHITE is truly a classic fairy tale.
Depending on your worldview, Walt Disney either defined children’s cinema, or ruined it. Regardless, the Disney fairy tales such as SNOW HWITE, SLEEPING BEAUTY, CINDERELLA and ALICE IN WONDERLAND, have dominated the scene for so long, other cinema versions of the classic fairy tales have not received the audience or critical attention they deserved, having been for the most part dismissed as inferior product (i.e., “not Disney”). This is a shame at least, and a cultural conspiracy at worst.
There exists an alternate version of SNOW WHITE, under the “Holiday Storybook” banner, which adds a U.S.-filmed prolog and epilog featuring popular TV celebrity Chuck McCann, who sits in front of a modern fireplace and tells some Long Island brats about the film they are about to see. (McCann was then host of his own, popular children’s’ TV show on WNEW-TV in New York) In the slightly nihilistic epilog, Chuck tells his kids, “Forget about watching this stuff! Go to the library and read!” This version is likely a syndication TV release.