As the majority know, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
was Walt Disney's first feature length animated film, therefor giving us our first Disney Princess. There are a variety of different films, fairy tales, animations and stylistic genres that seemed to blend together to make this very historic piece of cinema.
Betty Boop & Snow White
Many believe that Disney was directly inspired to make the film due to the success of the Betty Boop
short of the fairy tale. This is relatively believable, given that the Betty Boop short was released in 1933 a year prior to Disney's adaption coming into development and production. It should also be noted that Grim Natwick, who is most famous for drawing Fleischer Studio's Betty Boop was also a lead animator for Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is probably the reason that the two heroines share such similar visual qualities, significantly the cropped black hairstyle as well as the highly overt high pitch, sweet tone to their voices. Most noticeably the characteristics, mannerisms and the way they both represent exaggerated 1930's idealised women also make me realise how similar they both are.
Snow White (1916)
Another Snow White adaption that I think Disney drew ideas from was a 1916 American silent feature. However minor, I think the two Snow Whites share particular mannerisms and the illustrations of the dwarfs on the silent movies poster seems like a base to the visual appearance of Disney's take on the secondary characters. Additionaly I thought it was interesting that this adaption gave the story's love interest a name, deemed Prince Florimond.
Romeo & Juliet (1936)
Not only was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
inspired by films that where directly based on the fairy tale, but rather where based on much different films as well. MGM's live action Romeo & Juliet
, which was released a year prior to the final release of the Disney film was also an inspiration. This was a film that Disney made direct reference in a story meeting pertaining to the scene in which Snow White lies in her glass coffin. I think that the meetings between Snow White and The Prince became symbols of book ends for the narrative of the film rather than being the back bone in the story like in Romeo & Juliet.
The Sleeping Beauty by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
It should also be pointed out that the point in the film where we see The Prince's kiss awaking Snow White from the sleeping death was actually not taken from the original fairy tale, but rather another vey iconic fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty
, a story that will later have a Disney adaption of its own. I think it was important for Disney to use this narrative climax to give a more softer and gentler way for the princess to awake.
Nosferatu & The Witch
However there are points in the film that are deliberately made not to be soft and gentle to perceive the evil nature of the films villain, The Evil Queen. Interestingly Disney used German Expressionism as a significant source of inspiration for the darker scenes in Snow White most notably Nosferatu
, a very iconic film that portrays key motifs of German Expressionism. A very well known films for having iconically scary scenes, which relates to the scenes in Snow White such as the forest scene and The Evil Queen in disguise as the hag, which is reminiscent of German Expressionism, giving an obscure and surprising moment of fear for the audience. link
Schneewittchen by Theodor Hosemann
The German Expressionistic aspects relates to the very core fairy tale inspiration, given the Snow White or rather Schneewittchen
origin of the story. The most significant and famous fairy tale being the German Brother Grimm adaption, the adaption that introduced some of the elements such as the magic mirror and the seven dwarfs, elements that went on to be become even more iconic narrative motifs because of Disney's adaption of the story.
The Evil Queen's transformation
The scene where we see The Evil Queen's transformation process to the witch not only draws from German Expressionism but also refers directly to a specific film. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
a film released in 1931 was a direct inspiration for The Queen's poison drinking chaotic scene both in narrative reasoning with the idea of everyone having impulses for both good and evil but also stylistic elements can be compared in both film's transformation scenes.
In conclusion I think it is evident from some of the examples I have given that shows us the high amount of media that have blended together to make the earliest of feature length mainstream animated film. Leading me to believe that the more modern animated films are created, the more variety of different narratives come together to create them.