Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been spell binding audiences for over 80 years! We’ve collected together 15 of the most magical facts about Walt Disney’s first ever full length animation! From dwarf names to it’s dark origins, here are 15 things you never knew about everyone’s favourite Disney classic! Did you know that it took three years to make? Or that Walt Disney was given 7 mini Oscars for the film? Read on and find out your favourite Snow White fact!
1. It was the first full length Disney film
Snow White marks the very first full-length film Disney ever made. It was a huge production, taking about three years in total and 32 animators, over 1,000 assistants and 100s more colourists, artists and others to bring the film together. Each scene and character had to be painstakingly hand drawn, and there was no CGI in the 1930’s. The work paid off though, and it’s become one of the most beloved films of all time!
2. It’s based on a German fairytale
Snow White was originally a German fairy tale, recorded by the brothers Grimm in the 19th century. The film started Disney’s trend for adapting fairy tales for the screen, and to date, dozens of Disney’s films and shorts have been based on fairytales, legends and myths from around the world.
3. The fairy tale is even darker
Although Snow White may seem pretty scary with its poisoned apple, cackling witch and spooky forest, the original story was every scarier! In it, the evil queen tries to poison Snow White three times in total, and she even eats some of Snow White’s organs after she thinks she’s been killed (It’s really a pig though). At the end, the queen dies by dancing to death in red hot slippers! Yikes! You can still see some hints of the original in the opening credits, which include a poisoned comb.
4. The Seven Dwarfs could have had even weirder names
If you didn’t already think the dwarfs had silly enough names, wait until you hear the other options Disney was considering! Other names that were put forward include Biggy-Wiggy or Biggo-Ego, Blabby, Deafy, Dirty, Gabby, Gaspy, Gloomy, Hoppy-Jumpy, Hotsy, Jaunty, Nifty, and Shifty. Can you imagine a version of the film with Blabby the dwarf in it?? No, us neither.
5. Disney got special Oscars for the film
Animation wasn’t a category in the oscards when the film was originally developed, because, well, there were no animated feature films to be nominated! Instead, Disney was given a special Oscar which came with 7 mini Oscars, mirroring the 7 dwarves! To date there still hasn’t been another Oscar like it!
6. The sound effects were pretty creative
‘Foley’ is the industry word for sound effects created for films and TV. Not every sound is captured when things are filmed, so Foley artists have to get creative and make noises with other things. For example, crackling bacon can sound like rain, coconut halves like horses, and a sheet of metal being wobbled can sound like a thunderstorm! For this film, Roy Disney created the sound of Dopey tip toing across the cottage by folding a leather wallet back and forth! Now you know!
7. It’s the highest grossing animation EVER
Adjusted for inflation, Snow White STILL beats out films like Frozen, Finding Nemo and The Lion King. The film was a huge hit when it was released, and, in today’s money, it made $1,977,000,000, which is nearly 2 BILLION dollars! It’s safe to say Snow White will stay at the top of that list considering that even now, over 80 years later, it remains a hit!
8. Snow White is the youngest Disney Princess
Snow White is only 14 in the movie, making her the youngest of all the Disney Princesses (Jasmine is second youngest at 15). This means it looks kind of odd that she goes off to get married at the end, but it’s still not as weird as the original fairy tale, where she was only SEVEN! And yes, she STILL GETS MARRIED! We think we prefer this version! Original designs also show Snow White looking a bit more like pin up cartoon Betty Boop, but Disney wanted her to look more wholesome and innocent, and the character design we know today was born.
9. There were some pretty cool scenes that never made it
Like with most films, much more was planned than ever made it into the film. This included a scene where the queen animated skeletons to dance for the prince while she holds him in her dungeon, the dwarfs building Snow White a bed, and Snow White imagining herself dancing in the clouds with her prince. Some of these scenes still survive in sketch form, but never made it to full animation.
10. The animators had to practise animating people
Before Snow White, Disney had mainly focused on animal protagonists, like Mickey Mouse his short film hero. Because of this, the animators weren’t really used to drawing human beings, and had to do a lot of practise to make it look natural. This included animating characters like The Goddess of Spring in a short of the same name in 1934. If you watch it you’ll see they still had quite a long way to go – the goddess is quite bendy in a pretty unnatural way!
11. The Queen is called Grimhilde
Although never stated in the film, the evil queen is called Grimhilde, a name which points to her Germanic origins. She’s also depicted in dark purples and blacks to represent her nobility and evil nature. Interestingly, the queen doesn’t interact with Snow White at all until she turns into an old hag. Her actor, Lucille La Verne, also had a neat trick for getting the ‘old hag’ voice right – she just took out her false teeth! She’s also the first character in a Disney film to die!
12. Snow White’s actress was never allowed to play anyone else again
Adriana Caselotti was under a special sort of contract when she played Snow White, which stipulated that she never play anyone else EVER again! Although she appears ina few small roles (including as a voice in The Wizard of Oz) Caselotti never did play anyone else, because Disney wanted her to only be associated with Snow White and she wasn’t even credited in the film! Nowadays it wouldn’t really be possible to tie an actor to only one role like that. Luckily, Caselotti was a huge fan of the film, and loved being Snow White – she even had her house designed to look like the dwarfs cottage!
13. A sequel was planned
As with all successful Disney films, a sequel was considered as soon as the film became a hit. Called Snow White Returns the film would have included deleted material from the original film as well as a new story. There were also plans for another sequel called ‘Rose Red’ about Snow White’s sister, who is in another German fairytale. To date, neither of these films has started production, but maybe one day!
14. 25 songs were written for the film
Only eight films ended up in the film, but 25 were written in total. These included the unused ‘Never Too Old To Be Young’ and ‘Music In Your Soup’. You can find recordings of both songs made before they were cut, as well as original sketches of the animation. The songs that were used have become classics, including ‘Heigh ho’ and ‘Some Day My Prince Will Come’
15. There is a hidden Mickey Mouse in the film
This film started the Disney tradition of putting hidden Mickey Mouse heads in films (represented by three circles), often hidden in furniture, clouds or clothes, as well as in the theme parks. For example, in the Dalmatian spots in 101 Dalmatians, the soap bubbles in Cinderella, and designs on Notre Dame in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In Snow White, you can see a hidden Mickey in the stonework in the wall behind the queen when she is going down to the dungeon.