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November 2, 2009
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Diamond Edition Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
2/6/193812/10/2009Walt DisneyDavid Hand
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1GAdriana Caselotti (voice)

THE MOVIE
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Snow White on Blu-Ray look stunning.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is one of the, if not the single, most important movie in Walt Disney's lengthy catalogue. Not only was it the first feature length animated movie but was the movie that turned the studios into a powerhouse, and then saved the studio with a re-release during World War II when the studio had turned into creating movies for the American Army, a non-profitable, but necessary, business venture.

The beautiful and kindhearted princess Snow White charms every creature in the kingdom except one-her jealous stepmother, the Queen. When the Magic Mirror proclaims Snow White the fairest one of all, she must flee into the forest, where she befriends the lovable seven dwarfs - Doc, Sneezy, Grumpy, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy and Dopey. But when the Queen tricks Snow White with an enchanted apple, only the magic of true love's kiss can save her!

Given that the movie is now over 70 years old we would be surprised if anyone reading this had not, at the very least, heard about the movie. It's a classic. It has, on multiple occasions, saved the Walt Disney company financially, and has a storyline that still manages to resonate today. The animation is simply superb across the board and it's mind blowing to think that the 100,000+ frames in the film were all individually painted and shot, one frame at a time. Even today with modern day computers that’s a monumental challenge, but in the late 1930's? Astounding.

What brings this movie to life are the characters. Snow White is so innocent, charming and pure, and the stepmother so evil, but it's the very likable dwarfs that steal the show. Music also plays a major part in making this movie so special with classic songs including "Whistle While You Work", "Heigh-Ho", and "Some Day My Prince Will Come". To this very day they are such beautifully crafted songs. Finally we have the gags, while not as "slapstick" as those in Disney's earlier short movies, they are perfectly timed and fit the tone of the movie perfectly.

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The Queen is menacing in Snow White.
We must also point out that this Blu-Ray release includes Disney View. By activating this painted borders are placed on the left and right of the image to replace the black bars. These images change according to the current scene playing and fills the widescreen TV. It's aimed at those that don't like (or should that be understand) the black bars, but it's actually very well presented.

A classic movie which holds up well today Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs remains a movie which anyone can, and will, still enjoy.

VIDEO
Just WOW! That is the best way to describe the video quality on this disc. The movie is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 and has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Now we thought that Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty were both spectacular presentations, but this one is superior for one particular reason, the restrained use of DNR on the image which means that the finest brushstrokes remain intact, and the image retains the finest detail in the artwork. With the movie only running for 83 minutes the compression has plenty of room to breathe and the bitrate, according to the PS3, often hovers around 25Mbps, but often peaks well into the mid 30Mbps range.

Now I've seen Snow White on DVD before, but never has the colour reproduction looked so brilliant - Snow White's lips glow red, forests are rich in detail, and even the slightly red tint on her cheeks glows. Of course there is some inconsistency in colours in some scenes, but this isn't a fault of the transfer, simply the slight differences between the painting on each frame. It just oozes quality.

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Snow White gets a kiss from the Prince.
AUDIO
When this film was released 70 years ago, there wasn't HD audio, not even surround sound and, well, not even Stereo audio either. When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in cinemas it came with a mono soundtrack so it is with some excitement that we heard that Disney would be presenting this disc with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (24-bit/48Khz) soundtrack. over the top? Perhaps, but the audio has been remixed over the years and is certainly as clear as this movie has ever heard. Indeed the dialogue is crystal clear and the musical numbers have such a life and vibrancy to them.

In terms of other audio formats this Blu-Ray disc includes Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian, Greek, Arabic and Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps. Each of these tracks is pretty impressive from the brief samples we made, and offer a good experience overall. One bitter disappointment which we have, yet again, is that unlike the American release the Australian disc lacks the original Mono 1.0 soundtrack. As we've said before it would take up next to no space, so why not include it to remain authentic to the original experience. As for subtitles we have English, English for the Hearing Impaired (in sampling both of these tracks we didn't notice any major issues with good pacing and accuracy to the dialogue on-screen), Portuguese, Polish, Hungarian, Greek, Arabic and Russian.

EXTRAS
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first movie in Disney's Diamond Collection which means it comes with the best audio and video presentation possible, and of course is also choc-full of extras.

Sneak Peak at The Princess and The Frog (7:45/HD): Here we have a sneak peek at the first 6 minutes of this latest hand drawn animated movie from Walt Disney Studios. I must say this movie looks fantastic and hopefully sees the rebirth of traditional hand-drawn animated movies.

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Background artwork is simply brilliant in Snow White.
Backstage Disney: Snow White Returns (8:44/HD): This documentary made for this Diamond Edition shows off a newly discovered archive with ideas for a sequel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs called Snow White Returns, possibly as a short film.

Backstage Disney: Deleted Scene - Soup Eating Sequence (4:07/HD): An animated, but not coloured, deleted scene with another catchy song.

Backstage Disney: Deleted Scene - Bed Building Sequence (6:28/HD): This is a second deleted scene which is in part animated, and in part still storyboards. It gives you a good idea of what could have been.

Music Video: "Some Day My Prince Will Come" by Tiffany Thornton (3:34/HD): Another remake of a song in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which is better then some remixes we've seen on these DVD sets, but somewhat pointless other then promoting another Disney starlet.

Games (HD): Three Java based games are included on this disc. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall determines which Princess you are after answering a series of questions, What Do You See? has you trying to identify the images as quickly as possible, and Jewel Jumble which is a fun little Tetris styled clone.

Audio Commentary with Walt Disney and John Keenmaker: This surprisingly clear audio commentary, especially given the age of the materials, has been strung together with interviews with Walt Disney and includes plenty of details about the production of the movie. Walt Disney is an interesting character and he has plenty of interesting details.

Screen Saver: Yep, you can even turn on a Screen Saver function.

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The Seven Dwarfs going home from work.
DISC TWO: So now we move onto Disc Two which contains the bulk of the extras which are all worth a look, and superbly produced. First up we have the Hyperion Studios which breaks down a tonne of featurettes and animated short movies into their departments. After selecting Hyperion Studios you are given a short introduction to the Hyperion Studios. This then opens up to provide numerous locations around the studios with each area including several video and/or gallery segments.

Hyperion Exterior (HD): This section includes Family Business (1:57), Where it all Began (11:48), and The One That Started It All (17:48) which is also available from the main Backstage Disney page (more on this featurette below).

Story Room (HD): Includes Stories from the Story Room (1:14), Five Bucks a Gag (17:48), In Walt's Words: The Huntsman (3:25) in which meeting notes are recreated showing Walt's detailed expectation of the scenes, Walt's Night Prowls (0:52), Gabby, Blabby, and Flabby (1:14) where the list of original Dwarfs names are listed, Babes in the Woods (8:04) is a very early Disney short movie based on Hansel and Gretel, Storyboard Art Gallery with 126 superbly presented images, and Abandoned Concepts Gallery includes 63 storyboards from unused scenes.

Music Room (HD): The Music Room section includes Music Room Hots (0:48) which offers a brief introduction, David Hand's Dirty Trick (1:18), The Music In Snow White (6:14) and finally the brilliant 1929 animated short The Skeleton Dance (6:02).

Art Department (HD): The Music Room section includes The Idea Man (1:41) which includes interviews with staff praising animator Albert Hurter's imagination, Creating the World of 'Snow White' (6:53), another animated short called Music Land (10:15), Visual Development Gallery with 153 images, Gustav Tenggren Art Gallery with 16 gorgeous images, and In Walt's Words: Cleaning the Cottage (7:03) which looks at details of the cleaning scene.

Character Design (HD): In this section we have a Character Design Gallery which only has 5 images, In Walt's Words: The Dwarfs (5:49), Colour Tests Gallery includes 12 images with different colours on the characters in the movie.

Background and Layout (HD): This area includes Setting the Stage (4:04) which is a fascinating look at the backgrounds, and camera pans required to make the movie, and a Layout Gallery with 115 images and a Backgrounds gallery with a further 25 images.

Animation Department (HD): Naturally there is a bit of content in this section given the importance to this film. The first featurette is Bringing Snow White to Life (11:33) which looks at the artists and work to bring Snow White to life, Blowing Off Steam (2:17) which has some great practical jokes detailed, The Animators' Favourite Animators (2:00) is a short clip where animators talk about their admiration for other animators on the team, an Animation Art Gallery which contains 39 images, Playful Pluto (8:09) is the 1934 animated short with Pluto and Mickey, and finally we have another classic Disney short called Goddess of Spring (10:04) which is another Silly Symphonies classic.

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My wife calls me Dopey, but why?!
Live Action Reference (HD): First up here we have Live Action Host (0:50) which is a brief introduction to the Live Action Reference process. Here we also have Drawing on Real Life (1:37), a Live Action Reference Gallery with 26 images, and Giving Voice to Snow White (2:46).

Sweatbox (HD): Sweatbox Host (0:53) provides and introduction to this section and from then on we have Sweating it Out (1:09), and Deleted Bedroom Fight Scene (2:26) which is an interesting scene cut from the film.

Ink and Paint (HD): The Challenges of Ink and Paint (1:41) looks at the female painters and inkers who worked for Walt Disney, a Painted Cells Gallery with 14 images, Life in the Nunnery (1:59) and finally Flowers and Trees (8:31) is the first Technicolour cartoon, and also the first animated film ever to win an Academy Award.

Camera Department (HD): Decoding the Exposure Sheet (6:47) is a fascinating look at how the shots are all layered and linked together to create a scene, Stories from the Camera Department (2:04), and another Silly Symphony short from 1937 called The Old Mill (9:06) which was the first film to use the multiplane camera. There is a slight menu error here where you can't go forward to "Sound Stage" so you will need to return to the main menu to access that, and subsequent, sections.

Sound Stage (HD): Walt's Early Masters of Sound (1:51) details the early sound recordings and effects, while the big highlight here is the classic 1928 short movie called Steamboat Willie (8:02). It's probably the most important animated short movie of all time, the first to feature synchronized sound, and is superbly presented on this disc.

Walt's Office (HD): This final section includes Working with Walt (1:48), Publicity Gallery with 34 images, and Production Photos Gallery with 21 images.

Backstage Disney: The One That Started It All (17:15/HD): Back on the main Backstage Disney page (this is the same featurette as on the Hyperion Exteriors page) is this featurette which gives a good overview of all the featuettes presented in the Hyperion Studios section. Quite a bit of material is repeated, but this gives a good, concise, look at this movie and how it fits into Walt Disney's studios.

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Go on, eat the apple!
DISC TWO - Classic DVD Bonus Features: This section includes a large amount of content (but not all) ported over from the Platinum DVD release and as such are only presented in Standard Definition. Still, this is all still certainly worth a look.

Animation Voice Talent (6:21): This featurette looks at selecting the voice actors used in the movie.

Disney Through The Decades (42:34): This series of 16 featurettes, broken up by decades, looks at the history of the Walt Disney studio through the decades, and shows off the many times that Snow White was released. With some great historical footage this is a must-watch documentary.

Dopey's Wild Mine Ride: A pretty basic game with questions about the movie. Produced for DVD it's still worth at least one play through.

"Heigh Ho: Karaoke Sing-Along (2:44): Yep, the popular song from the movie is presented here in sing-along or karaoke (music but no lyrics) form.

DISC THREE: DIGITAL COPY Finally we have a third disc in this set which is a digital copy of the movie on DVD.

OVERALL
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a timeless classic that is stunningly presented on Blu-Ray with a nigh on perfect transfer, and a swag of extras that will take you considerable time to get through. This is a spectacular release which should be added to every movie lovers Blu-Ray collection today. Well done Walt Disney and all the individuals who worked on the original movie, the restoration, and this stunning Blu-Ray release...

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
10/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
10/10
OVERALL
9/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Walt Disney. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.