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‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (G)

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 17, 1987

"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is an eye-opener the second time around. Grumpy clearly needs counseling and Dopey is an obsessive in need of a voice coach. Prince Charming looks like he's only after a theater marriage with Snow White. And the spirit in the mirror is dead wrong: The Wicked Queen, with those Queenie Dearest eyes and arching body, is the fairest in the land. Snow White may be pure, but she has no real estate, is compulsive about house-cleaning and talks to animals.

But even through '80s and adult eyes, Walt Disney's first full-length cartoon is as rich and fun as it was in post-Depression 1937 -- yes, 1937. And the seven dwarfs (Doc, Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy and Dopey) are every bit as charming as they "Hi-ho" to work at the diamond mine.

In case you've been held captive in Lapland, "Snow White" (as altered and adapted from the Grimms' tale) is about a nasty queen whose magic mirror, which is supposed to proclaim her the prettiest in the land, seeds her No. 2 to stepdaughter Snow White. The jealous queen orders a servant to kill the fair damsel, but the would-be assassin lets her escape into the woods, where she takes refuge with the mighty minis. Nasty queen poisons her with an apple, Prince Charming brings her back to life with a kiss. They live happily ever after, taking over the dead queen's castle without so much as a second mortgage.

Disney's "Snow White" is suffused with song, visual wit and goodwill, and that children will go for it has long been established. Many images stay with us grown-ups, too -- the dwarfs trudging to work against a streaky orange sky with a small waterfall in the foreground; the contorted and shrouded queen as she flees from the dwarfs up a craggy hill -- bone-white raindrops beating against the black rocks; the two vultures that spiral lazily down the hillside to feast on her fallen body; and of course the halo-lit scene where the prince administers the kiss of life.

Like many of the Disney films, from "Pinocchio" to "Fantasia," this film is a cinematic rite of passage -- for children and adults. Although you might want to tell your daughter not to take the song "Someday My Prince Will Come" too seriously. And to be less trusting of bearded men living in group houses.

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