Each week, this column will cover one film on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American films of all time, covering my thoughts on the film and whether or not I think it belongs on the list. You can also see my personal ranking here. This week’s film is #34 on the list: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is primarily notable for being Walt Disney’s first animated feature film and subsequently birthing an empire. Though it’s nearly a century old, the animation doesn’t look dated at all—in fact, the hand-drawn style of Disney’s early catalogue looks revolutionary in contrast to today’s standards. Modern animated films, which rely on CGI animation, often become antiquated several years after release, because technology is constantly evolving, but Snow White is vibrant and gorgeous, with each frame displaying the passion and hard work put into bringing the story to life. Unfortunately, the story itself is thin and the pacing becomes tedious, as the plot (which a child could detail in less than a minute) is stretched to feature length. There’s a barrage of musical numbers—some easily recognizable, some not—to fill the time, but it hardly makes for a compelling or emotionally engaging experience.
Does It Belong on the List?
No. It’s tough to find a consensus pick for the best animated Disney film, or even the best one to represent Disney animation as a whole, so I understand the inclination to just go with the one that started it all, but there is much better out there.