Since the advent of DVD, Disney has used Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to launch its premium animation home video line consisting of all of the films that are routinely bouncing in and out of the “Disney Vault.” In 2001, Snow White launched the Platinum Edition line, followed eight years later by the Diamond Edition. If you’ve missed your chances to own it so far during this millennium, you now have another opportunity with the launch of The Walt Disney Signature Collection.
What is The Walt Disney Signature Collection? Disney has yet to properly define it other than to say that it will celebrate Walt Disney’s animation legacy. Does that mean it will only be used to represent films made during Walt’s lifetime? Not likely and although this release doesn’t take an opportunity to announce the next title, rumors are circulating that Beauty and the Beast is next.
As a Disney fan, it’s impossible to not put Snow White on a pedestal given its historical significance to the company and all of the great things that came from its success. But to me, the most impressive thing about the film is that nearly eighty years later, the film still holds up. It’s still immensely entertaining and touching, the characters are just as charming as they were when you were a child. The songs are as catchy as you remember, but most importantly you still root for Snow White to get her happy ending.
Unlike the Diamond Edition release, The Walt Disney Signature Collection version of Snow White only provides one physical buying option with the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo Pack. Disney has no plans to produce a DVD-only version and marketing has emphasized the digital release over this one. If Hollywood has it their way, this may be the last time you can purchase Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a tangible medium.
The Signature Collection version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs reuses the same HD remaster from the 2009 Diamond Edition, which I still award high marks seven years later. Colors feel more accurate than the 2001 release with lots of pastel colors that would have been authentic to the original release. Detail is so vibrant that flaws in the original print can now be seen, errors caused when the cells were originally photographed.
The DVD uses the same version of Snow White, an upgrade in video quality from the 2001 Platinum Edition. The restoration is still impressive in standard definition, but once you’ve seen all of the detail that Blu-Ray has to offer, it’s hard to overlook the softness that the DVD presentation provides.
On Blu-Ray, Snow White is offered in the same 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix from the Diamond Edition. Dialogue and effects remain mostly centered, with score filling the rear speakers during songs plus a few effects coming from the rear, particularly during the witch’s chase sequence. For purists, the original mono mix is also offered. The only other language options are French and Spanish 5.1 tracks.
On DVD, the 7.1 mix is downgraded to 5.1, but all other audio options are included.
For those who already own the Diamond Edition, Disney has created 60 minutes of new bonus content for this Signature Edition. Of that, about 40 minutes are truly relevant to the film while the rest feel superfluous and a waste of time.
- In Walt’s Words: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (4:23) – A series of archival interviews with Walt Disney are composited with photos and artwork to present his thoughts on Snow White.
- Iconography (7:15) – An exploration into the visual imagery from the film that has influenced pop culture, including apples, magic mirrors and wishing wells. It includes Disneybounding, Lego and paper artwork.
- @DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney’s First Princess (5:15) – Disney artists Mark Henn, Michael Giaimo, Bill Schwab and Loerlay Bove look at concept art for Snow White’s design and discuss their thoughts on her final look.
- The Fairest Facts of Them All: 7 Things You May Not Know About Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs(4:36) – Sofia Carson from Disney Channel’s Descendants lists seven facts that all Disney fans probably know, but they may be news to tweens, whom this feature is geared towards.
- Snow White in Seventy Seconds (1:12) – A rap that isn’t short enough retelling the story from start to finish. The young artist is not credited, but I won’t be seeking any more of her work based on this feature.
- Alternate Sequence: The Prince Meets Snow White (3:39) – Story meeting notes are read by actors who sound like Walt Disney and his story men as they discuss an earlier version of the film’s meet-cute sequence set to concept and storyboard artwork.
- Disney’s First Feature: The Making of Snow White (33:15) – Eric Goldberg, John Musker, John Canemaker, Neal Gabler and Brian Sibley lead talking-head interviews along with archival interviews from Ward Kimball, Woolie Reitherman, Ken Anderson and Frank Thomas to tell the story of how Snow White and the Seven Dwarfswas made. It’s refreshing in that it focuses more on the individual artists that created the film and less on Walt Disney, who oversaw the project. If any of this looks familiar, it’s because it is mostly harvested from older interviews that have been included on previous Snow White
The following bonus features have been carried over from the Diamond Edition release, most of which were part of the larger Hyperion Studio experience on the second disc:
- Bringing Snow White to Life (11:36) – Modern animators and historians examine the animation styles of some of the men who animated the characters in Snow Whiteto display their strengths represented in this film.
- Hyperion Studios Tour (30:37) – A newly edited feature that combines about half of the video features from the interactive studio tour from the Diamond Edition release. It’s a nice collection of videos, but is not as satisfying as the full experience from the Diamond Edition.
- Decoding the Exposure Sheet (6:49) – Don Hahn reviews an exposure sheet from Snow Whiteand breaks it down into layman terms for the audience.
- Snow White Returns (8:46) – Audiences desperately wanted a sequel to Snow Whiteand these storyboards reveal that Walt Disney was at least humoring the idea, but not much else is known. Was this a sequence from a full film, or merely a short?
- Story Meetings: The Dwarfs (5:51) – Story meeting notes are reenacted by actors to bring to life a discussion about how to tackle the dwarfs in the film.
- Story Meetings: The Huntsman (3:55) – Another recreation adds insight into the character of The Huntsman.
- Deleted Scene: Soup Eating Sequence (4:06) – This deleted song was fully animated by Ward Kimball when Walt decided to cut it. It hadn’t yet gone to color, so it is presented here in pencil animation.
- Deleted Scene: Bed Building Sequence (6:28) – Another pencil animation deleted sequence in which the dwarfs decide to surprise Snow White with a bed of her own.
- Animation Voice Talent (6:20) – A surprisingly engrossing exploration of the voices in the film, including Adriana Caselotti and Pinto Colvig.
- Audio Commentary (1:23:09) – Buried at the end of the bonus features menu (or accessible from the audio options) is this commentary from 2001’s Platinum Edition. Animation historian John Canemaker lead this track, which features a few words by Roy E. Disney and utilizes archival audio of Walt Disney to help tell the story of how Snow White was made.
The only bonus features on the DVD are the two deleted scenes, which amounts to about 10 minutes. These are also two of the oldest bonus features in this release, both of which were on the 2001 Platinum Edition version.
There is one digital exclusive that can be viewed on iTunes or Disney Movies Anywhere after redeeming your digital copy.
- Walt Disney Short: Hungry Hobos (5:23) – A long lost Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon from 1928 that was recently discovered in 2011. It received a wonderful restoration and is accompanied by new orchestrations. In the short, Oswald gets into trouble with his fellow stowaways as a hobo on a train.
Packaging & Design
Snow White is housed in a standard-sized Blu-Ray case with disc holders on both sides of the inner cover. The case includes a slipcover with the initial pressing which uses a matte finish for the Evil Queen and background, but high gloss on Snow White, the film’s lettering and the silver border. Inserts include a Disney Movie Rewards/Disney Movies Anywhere code that features Dopey on the sheet and an ad for Disney Movie Club.
Both discs open with ads for Disney Movies Anywhere, Zootopia and The Good Dinosaur. Selecting “Sneak Peeks” plays commercials for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Store and Disney Parks. The menu features a blank canvas while brushstrokes reveal scenes from the film, similar to the trailer for this Signature Collection release.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has once again returned to home video, this time as the premier title in the new Walt Disney Signature Collection. With some new bonus features and an assortment of previously released content, it’s a great option for anyone who doesn’t already own “The one that started it all” on Blu-Ray. However, if you already have the Diamond Edition, overall this release feels like a downgrade.