Will Scott
e-mail: will.alphasig@gmail.com

To Dream of True Love's Kiss: An Essay

So I had to write a paper in my Pop Film class comparing two movies - one before 1980 and one after. And being the Disney Freak I am, I decided to compare Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Enchanted. I thought I would share that paper with you. Enjoy!



To Dream of True Love’s Kiss

         Disney movies have always been a centerpiece in American popular culture. Walt Disney made sure to inject the ideals of family and entertainment in his movies and theme parks. It's also prevalent that his movies were relevant of its time and culture. To say that Disney is a genre of movie is an understatement. Disney movies envelop its culture, and puts them into a time and place where dreams to come reality, and anyone's fantasy will come true.  

         Two films I'll be analyzing in this paper are
Snow White & the Seven Dwarves (1937) and Enchanted (2007). These two films - while they came from two different times and cultures - are wildly similar in content and theme.

         Snow White and the Seven Dwarves produced by the Walt Disney Co. in 1937, was the first full-length animated feature of the time and went to win many Academy Awards. (IMDB.com) This film also set prevalence for all Disney movies to follow it. In the equilibrium of the film the Evil Queen (Lucille La Verne) consults her magic mirror (Moroni Olsen) stating she wants to be the fairest in the land. However, Snow White (Adriana Cassloti), the true most beautiful, stood in her way. She devises a way to get rid of her in the disequilibrium by commanding her hunter (Stuart Buchanan) to take her into the woods and kill her. The hunter, being weak and kind, cannot so he tells her to run into the woods and he brings back a heart of a pig to the Evil Queen instead. Snow White ends up taking care of seven dwarfs whom she mistakes for children. During many musical numbers she teaches the dwarves how to live sophisticated lives by cleaning, baking and making the dwarves wash their hands. During a new equilibrium, the evil queen sacrifices her beauty to disguise herself as an old ugly witch to try and kill Snow White with a poison apple after which, a sleeping Snow White is awakened from an internal sleep by true love’s kiss and marries her prince to live happily ever after.

         This film can be placed into many genre categories including animation, screen musical and Disney. For this assignment, I will only focus on the animation and Disney genres because those two characteristics made the film what it is today. In the animation genre category, there are many elements that are conventional to the genre. Although
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first of its kind, it set the trend for animation films to be set in the wild and far off places such as the kingdom or a forest. The characters are all conventional as well: you have the overly sweet and nice main character, Snow White, the goofy sidekick's, the dwarfs, the Prince (Harry Stockwell), and an evil witch. Snow White was praised for its use of bright coloring in contrast with dark colors to emphasize the mood. This, along with the typical inserting of a hero, heroine and villain provide a typical motif for animation film. In addition, a conventional motif in most animation films is that of the normalcy in singing with a musical background. The characters automatically know to sing once the music starts before them and shows no concern when harmonies begin to develop and when everyone seems to know the song. 
          The plot is also typical of any fairy tale where Princess searches for her Prince Charming and a finds adventure, friends and love along the way. The same can be said for a typical Disney genre film. To add to that, many Disney films to follow in the later years will continually use the theme of the Princess (or main character) dying to seek adventure and discover herself (or himself) in a new world for the later films. Examples of this include the Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992). In addition, there is also an element that is novel for the film. Before this movie a soundtrack for a film was unheard of. The studio use music to set the mood whether it be happy, cautious, or dangerous to further the story.

         The characters in this film fit Propp’s seven stock characters very well. The evil queen (who is also the ugly witch) can be used to fit three categories: the villain, the donor and the false hero. The evil queen is obviously the villain the story in her attempts to kill Snow White and become the most beautiful in the land. She even sacrifices her beauty to complete her goal is ultimately defeated which ties back into the theme of typical fairy tale genre stories. The witch in her role as a donor gives Snow White the poison apple which resulted in her temporary death. In addition, the ugly witch is also the false hero when she tells Snow White that with the bite of the Apple all her wildest dreams will come true. It's unique that the queen fits all three of these categories in her dual personality because in usual fairy tales, those roles are filled by separate characters. The helpers in the story are the seven dwarfs namely: Happy, Dopey, Sleepy, Grumpy, Bashful, Sneezy and Doc. They're the ones who try to save Snow White and her peril and build a coffin for her Prince to kiss her in. That being said, the hero is the Prince that awakens Snow White from her slumber. The dispatcher in the film is the Hunter who refuses to kill Snow White and sends her into the forest where she finds the cabin for the dwarfs. Finally, the princess and her father in the story is obviously Snow White in her quest to find herself in the Prince she longs to be with. This is suggested in the song “Someday My Prince Will Come”.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves makes a great structural analysis because of how opposite the characters are. Their personalities make the conflict easily identifiable.

Snow White Evil Queen
Pure
Evil
Innocent
Vain
Content
Jealous
Naive
Aware
Impulsive
Watchful
Bright
Dark
Triumph
Failure

Prince Hunter
Valiant
Weak
Romantic
Kind
Content
Worrisome


Grumpy Dopey
Analytical
Naive
Hesitant
Willing
Fake
True

         There is a lot of evidence inside the film to support these claims. Because Snow White was so pure and beautiful, the Evil Queen had no hesitation in plotting to kill the Princess because of the jealousy and vanity within her. Her knowledge of witchcraft and the young princesses’ inability to know what was going on at the time made easy - in her mind - for her huntsman to take her into the forest and kill her. Snow White showed her impulsiveness by entering, cleaning and sleeping in the dwarves house without even knowing them. Whereas the witch always consulted her magic mirror before making any decisions. The Prince has a vital role in the film because of his valiant and romantic personality by kissing a sleeping princess and awakening her. But she would never enter the force in the first place if the Hunter will haven't been weak in kind enough to warn her of the evil Queen's plans.

         This film both maintains and challenges the hegemony of the culture by keeping with the fairytale rose-colored view that every princess finds her prints and lives happily ever after. Robert Skyler in his book Movie Made America comments on the relationship between film makers of the 1930s depression era quoting” Though [Disney's] work hardly exhausts a variety of movie dreams in the depression era, or the subtlety of relationships between movies and cultural norms, it does offer a clearly marked path along the lines of development during a decade” (197). The film was made during the Depression era yet it brought in a new style of animation with a being a full-length color feature film. If you take an oppositional reading of the text, you might read that the film was made to inspire and inform audiences that tales do have a happy ending in dreams do come true matter how the situation seem. The dominant belief of the culture in the 1930s was at times were hard and they weren't going to get any better soon. This film was in opposition to that, however with the Legion of decency under the Hollywood production code in 1930, some aspects of the film were changed to better fit the code. There was a scene in the beginning of the film about Snow White's mother and her death but they were cut to avoid the wrath of the censor which was key at that point in time (IMDB.com). To also go along with ideology of the film and culture of the time you could look at it as the beginning of an empire for Walt Disney studio. At this time Mickey Mouse on a popular figure, but it took Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to continue Disney on the road to success. The idea of “studio is king” was prevalent to the Walt Disney Animation Studios as many writers directors are directors and engineers were hired during this time to complete the movie. These aspects of the film industry 1930s maintain hegemony of the film industry during a time although Disney's later movies would change that fact, this film was just the beginning.

         The next film to be examined is another Disney movie, Enchanted (2007). While not yet Disney classic, the film reaches close to home for Disney fanatics mostly because it encompasses many characteristics of classic Disney films which will be expanded upon later. Interestingly enough, the film most closely represents the tale of Snow White.

         In the equilibrium of the film, an animated Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) searches for a Prince whom she meets in a dream, and through accident bumps into Prince Edward, (James Marsden) stepson of the Evil Queen Narissa (Susan Saradon) who is in fear of losing her throne if the two marry. The disequilibrium happens in many phases: Narissa plans to get rid of Giselle whom she tricks by pushing her down the magic well that sends her into the real world. Edwards soon follows to look for Giselle and Narissa sends her minion Nathaniel (Timothy Spall) to keep Edward busy kill Giselle in many Disney villainous ways including a poison apple – a subtle reference to Snow White which I will expand apon later.

         Sequentially, in the real world, Giselle meets Robert (Patrick Dempsey) a lawyer whom she falls in love with and teaches him the meaning of fantasy and at the same time learns to live in reality by adjusting to her world. In the new equilibrium Robert and Giselle end up together after an attack by the Queen in dragon form. Edward ends up with Roberts ex-fiancé in the animated world and both Giselle and Robert adjust to their new lives with each other.

         This film can follow Snow White in being placed in the animation and Disney genre. While only parts of the movie are animated, they still encompass conventional characteristics of an animation film even when events happen in modern-day live-action New York. The motif of using bright colors representing good in contrast with dark colors representing evil is used throughout the film in costumes and the setting the beginning of the movie is another wild in far off kingdom in the midst of a forest where Giselle lives. Amusingly the film seeks to challenge the motif of typical Disney in animation films, when Giselle in the real world starts to sing “That's How You Know", Robert seems confused when everyone around her scenes know the song to sing in harmony. There are also conventional characters such as the naïve Princess in peril, the valiant prince to come to rescue, the evil jealous queen and the goofy sidekick. Also the plot is very conventional in a Prince is searching for a prince and a new world and end up finding adventure and love. Again, these characteristics are also control of a classic Disney film. Evidence of this includes shut Giselle singing about her prince, Edward traveling to New York to rescue her, Narissa trying to kill Giselle with the poison Apple and many other poisonous things and everyone reaching the happily ever after the end of the film.

         Being in animation and Disney genre film most characters fit Propps seven stock characters very well. The villain in the story is mainly Queen Narissa who attempts to kill Giselle in many different ways. She can also be considered to be the dispatcher in being the one to send her on her journey down the well into the real world. The donor in the film can be seen as Robert who gives Giselle a place to sleep and the reality world and teaches her how to act human. The helper can be seen as either Pip the chipmunk who aids Prince Edward and his search for Giselle or Nathaniel who aids Narissa in finding Giselle. The Princess and the film is obviously Giselle in her quest to find her prince and find her place in the new world. Nathaniel can be categorized as the false hero by appearing to be incompetent Prince Edward to be his aid and finding his Princess, is actually aiding Narissa.

         In contrast to Snow White, structural analysis of this film can be viewed in many different ways. While many characters are opposites they help bring out each other's characteristics and can be intertwined together. Because the film is made to mere Snow White many of the characters characteristics are the same as the previous film:

Giselle    Narissa
Pure
Evil
Innocent
Vain
Content
Jealous
Naive
Aware
Bright
Dark
Triumph
Failure

Edward       Robert
Fantasy         Reality
Romantic      Cautious
Valiant
         Meek
Naive             Aware

Giselle        Nancy
Animated     Reality
Helpless       Romantic Problems in relationship

         Much like
Snow White, the evil Queen Narissa wanted to get rid of Giselle so that she can keep her throne but not because she was jealous of her beauty rather jealous that she would get a Queen one day and said of her. Her knowledge of witchcraft and Nathaniel's willingness to serve her a easy in her mind to kill the Princess. It's Robert sense of reality that change is Giselle's character of a fantasy princess to reality. On the reverse, hey it sells bright and innocent personality and teaches Robert about love and fantasy. At the end of the film Nancy falls in love with Edward and moves back to and Andalasia, the fantasy kingdom, and Giselle stays Robert in the real world which changes their personality traits. Edward shows his valiant sea and romantic nature by chasing after Giselle in the city in which he is not familiar, whereas Robert is cautious and aware of his relationship situation and does not seek to invite Nancy over to stay with him because of his young daughter and try to teach same to Giselle despite her many attempts to bring the fantasy world into reality through song and dance.

        The film challenges the hegemony of the modern culture by refuting the idea that the modern fairy tale is dead. The film does this by echoing and twisting many previous Disney films such as the storybook opening is a tribute to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Giselle's animal call is very similar to that of Snow White, and she and Prince Edward ride off into the sunset shadowing the end of the film as well. Giselle mistaking a little person in New York City for Grumpy, Prince Edward callomg the television set a magic mirror, and Narissa’s poisoned apples are all preferences to the film as well. When Giselle loses a slipper at the ball and Edward puts it on Nancy’s foot where it happens to be a perfect fit is a reference to Cinderella. To name in a few more popular ones, the Queen transforming into an ugly witch to trick the Princess (Snow White) and giving her a poison Apple to eat telling her it will make all her dreams come true. The evil Queen turns into a dragon to conduct a final plan of killing the Princess and fails (Sleeping Beauty). However the twist is instead of the Prince saving the Princess, the opposite happens. Giselle sings working songs when she cleans Roberts apartment, inviting animals to help her on her task (Snow White, Cinderella). Robert and Giselle go on a boat ride while singing romantic song (The Little Mermaid). The Princess’ true love kisses her to wake her from a deathly slumber (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty), the couple dances at a ball under a shining chandelier (Beauty and the Beast). To go even further the directors cast two memorable Disney princesses in live action roles in the film. Jodi Benson who plays the secretary is known to let her voice to Princess Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and Paige O'Hara who has a cameo in a dramatic scene on a television set is known for her voice as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. (IMDB.com)

         All these references to earlier Disney movies and more are examples of how Disney tries to make the point that the modern fairy tale isn't dead regardless of what the culture might think. When the movie was made there wasn't a lot a fairytale stories out there mainly because audiences didn't want to see fairy tale stories as much as they did in earlier years.

          As I said before in these two films are equivalently similar. Not only does
Enchanted take elements of story-line, setting, scene and even characters from Snow White, it also challenges the hegemony of today's and yesterday's society to which culture believes that the classic fairy tale is dead. The American culture is no longer interested in the happily ever after, because they've come to terms that happiness is not found in fairytale but rather that happiness can be found elsewhere. The extreme similarities between the two also tells us that not only is a classic fairytale not dead, but it is embedded within many Americans in whichever setting they choose to see it in whether to be a classic Disney tale or a new twist on an old one.


Works Cited
"Enchanted (2007)." Enchanted (2007). The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 02 Apr. 2009 .

Graeme., Turner,. Film as social practice. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Sklar, Robert. Movie-made America a cultural history of American movies. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)." Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. International Movie Database. 02 Apr. 2009 .

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