SnowWhitecoverGrade: A-
Entire family: Yes
1937, 83 min., Color
Rated G
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 7.1
Bonus features: A-
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Amazon link

Walt Disney didn’t invent Snow White, but then again, neither did the Brothers Grimm, who published their version in an 1812 book of folk tales they collected from across Germany. But Disney renamed the dwarves and gave them individual personalities. With their help, he proved to the world in 1937 that it really was possible to create a full-length animated feature that could engage movie audiences.

When Disney first announced the project and put out a call for artists and animators, the press called it “Disney’s Folly,” because no one in Hollywood thought it possible for an animated cartoon to hold the public’s interest for more than a few minutes. But Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made movie history and started a cottage industry of Disney Princesses and full-length animated features that had strong enough storylines and evocative characters to entertain adults as well as children.

SnowWhitescreenPerhaps most amazing, it still holds up today because of the formula that we’ve come to expect from Disney: characters with personality that we care about, gorgeous artwork, true-to-life animation, a strong storyline, memorable music, and an emotional ride that makes us laugh, cry, and fear for the characters’ lives. Compared to later Disney animated features Snow White has a much simpler trajectory: A wicked queen gets jealous of Snow White’s beauty, orders her huntsman to kill her, and she runs into the dark forest after he spares her. There she discovers a tiny house that’s a frightful mess and decides to clean it with the help of forest animals. She bonds with the house’s inhabitants—seven dwarves that work in a diamond mine—but the ever persistent Queen transforms herself into an old hag and stalks Snow White. Yet, for such a simple story, Snow White is packed full of emotions and colorful characters and all of those things that now seem standard-issue in a Disney movie. Ironically, if it wasn’t for the decidedly ‘30s look of Snow White and the Prince, you’d never know the film was that old. It’s aged very well.

The bottom line is that Snow White belongs in every family movie collection, and it looks positively wonderful on Blu-ray. The soft palette look of the film is preserved, but with slightly greater edge delineation, and that makes all the difference in the world. Meanwhile, the 7.1 DTS-HDMA really enhances songs like “Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.” What it will come down to is whether you already own the three-disc Diamond Edition that was released in 2009. In that case, unless you really want the film in Digital HD to watch on other devices, you’re just fine with that edition.

Not all the bonus features from the 2009 Blu-ray were ported over, but that’s not surprising, since the earlier release featured a second Blu-ray disc of bonus features in addition to the DVD. What made it: two deleted scenes, a fascinating making-of feature, “Snow White Returns,” a Hyperion Studios tour, “Bringing Snow White to Life,” “In Walt’s Words,” “Decoding the Exposure Sheet,” and an audio commentary featuring historian John Canemaker, Roy Disney, and recordings of Walt Disney. What seems to be new are features on the iconography of Snow White, “@Disneyanimation: Designing Disney’s First Princess,” a fun facts featurette hosted by Disney Channel star Sofia Carson, and “Snow White in 70 Seconds.” Like the 2009 release, Snow White comes with DisneyView, drawn borders to fill out the black bars on the sides of a classic film that’s presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio that actually measures closer to 1.37:1.

This new release shows how the digital landscape has changed. Gone is the BD-Live content and games for the kids to play, and added are the Digital HD copy and instructions on how to download a Disney Movies Anywhere app.