Grimm vs Disney
The tale of Snow White, although written by the Brothers Grimm, was made famous by Walt Disney’s animated take on the story. Both fairy tales involve a girl named Snow White, whose lips were as red as blood, skin as white as snow, and hair as black as ebony. She is portrayed as being naïve and innocent, not fighting the patriarchal suppression of man. On the other hand, the Evil Queen, who is also Snow Whites stepmother, is described to be mad with jealousy and strives to kill Snow White who is fairer than her, according to the magic mirror on the wall. The magic mirror in both stories tells the queen whether or not she is the fairest in the land; usually the mirror reports the Snow White is fairer which sparks the queen’s jealousy. The mirror is thought to be the patriarchal suppression of women, judging them to never be beautiful enough for man. The queen lures Snow White to her sleeping death in both tales with an apple, colored a beautiful red symbolizing temptation and deception. However, Snow White triumphs over the queen in both tales, marrying the Prince and living “happily ever after.”
The Brothers Grimm’s original tale did not nearly gain as much success as the Walt Disney film. However, the fairy tale and the animated film have a number of differences that change the story. The Grimm’s tale introduces Snow White to have a father (whom the Queen and Snow White fight over for attention aka the oedipal struggle) where as in the movie she is an orphan. The Prince shows up in the first scene of the movie, causing Snow White to focus on his love for the whole story while the Grimm’s don’t introduce the Prince until the end of the story, making him the hero. After the Queen finds out Snow White is the fairest in the land, she sends a huntsman to kill her. Although, in the Grimm tale she asks for her liver and lungs while in the movie she desires Snow Whites heart. When the huntsman refuses to kill her and Snow White runs off into the woods, she comes across a small cottage full of dwarves. In the Grimm tale, the cottage is clean and the dwarves request Snow White to clean, sew, and cook for them if she wants to stay in their home. Although, Disney portrays the dwarves as more childlike and humorous. Snow White cleans up after them willingly and is cast more as a mother figure. Walt Disney clarifies there are seven dwarves, who each have their own unique characteristic, and who are wealthy but still act like little boys. The animals in Walt Disney’s film who aid Snow White in cleaning the dwarf’s cottage are cast to have human characteristics, being helpful and caring towards the young girl. When the queen seeks revenge on Snow White in the Grimm tale, she tries to kill her three times with a stay lace, a poisoned comb, and the positioned apple which are all weapons of femininity. In Disney’s version the queen succeeds killing Snow White on the first try with the poison apple, although in both tales Snow White is naïve enough to trust the disguised queen. When Snow White falls into her sleeping death, she is placed in a glass coffin with her name is inscribed on the side in gold. In the Grimm tale, the Prince’s servant’s drop the coffin and the apple is removed from her throat so she can than again breathe. In the Disney film, she is awakened by true loves first kiss since Disney centered the movie more on Snow Whites loves for the Prince. The Queen dies in both versions, but the Grimm’s kill her off with iron shoes while Disney has her fall off a cliff. Disney includes aspects of the Brothers Grimm version of Snow White, but why did he change so many parts in his animated film?
Walt Disney designed his movies to be original to him, hoping to revolutionize fairy tales. He was a bit narcissistic and included bits of his life story in some tales. Disney altered Snow White to be Snow White and the Seven Dwarves since he used the dwarves as a comic relief in his films. He created the movie to give people hope during the great depression, conveying the message through the dwarves that if you work hard, success will come your way. Disney wanted to also make the movie more kid friendly, allowing his films to relate to all audiences and therefore causing his movies to be more successful. Although Disney changes the Brothers Grimm original tale of Snow White, he still revolutionized the story with his animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.