Saturday, September 26, 2015

Walt Disney's appropriation of Schneewittchen

Walt Disney was a radical filmmaker who changed the way the world viewed fairy tales through his use of appropriation, therefore enforcing his socioeconomic and cultural beliefs upon his viewers. Both versions begin with a relevant theme for the time period, the loss of the maternal figure and the subsequent introduction of a new one. This new maternal figure is characterized as vain, narcissistic, and haughty. The mirror is a consummate symbol of the mother’s vanity, because narcissistic people tend to look upon themselves in a search of self love. One of the biggest appropriations Disney created was the characterization of the 7 Dwarves. In the Brothers Grimm, they were merely a tool to continue the story, and generally had no influence over Snow White’s actions. However in the Disney version, the 7 Dwarves are liberated and brought to the foreground as prominent characters, and help drive the story’s plot. Another important appropriation is the introduction of the prince at the beginning of the story. Snow White is a servant to her step-mother in the beginning of the Disney film, and therefore the Prince is briefly mentioned because he will be Snow White’s savior. The beginning of the Disney movie is another example of Walt Disney’s favorite themes, rags to riches through the assistance of men. In both versions it is Snow Whites na├»vety that kills her. The prince taking her from the dwarves and her re-awakening symbolizes the transition of childhood into adulthood. In the Grimms’ version, the haughty queen must dance herself to death with hot iron shoes, indicating that Snow White is mature enough to possess power over her step-mother.

I believe that Walt Disney diverted the original version in order to alter to a personal theme, that is going from rags to riches because of the assistance of a man. The Grimms’ version describes how after the transition into adulthood, Snow White now has the confidence and maturity to banish the queen. But in the Disney Version, Snow White continues to be a passive girl, venturing into the sunset with the prince. The queen in the Disney version falls off a cliff and dies, only because the animals chased after her. Snow White is as important a character as her father, because she does not do anything. The only thing she actually does is clean the house, further delineating Disney’s sexist views. 

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