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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 28, 2009 by  



“The Blu-ray looks fantastic.  For this classic film from 1937 to look so vibrant, so spectacular, so beautiful 72 years later is a testament towards Disney’s restoration and remastering.  The picture quality is absolutely pristine.  The new lossless  7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is magnificent.  But most of all, if you thought Disney set the bar high in 2001 with the ‘Platinum Edition’ release, this ‘Diamond Edition’ sets the bar even higher as it celebrates the talent who worked on the film and triples the amount of special feature content.  This is probably the most content I have ever seen in terms of special features for a video release of a film.   “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition” is not only magnificent, it’s also highly recommended!”

Images courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition

DURATION: 84 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-Bit), French and Spanish 5.1, DEHT Restored Original theatrical soundtrack, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (General Audience)

Release Date:  October 6, 2009

Based on the fairy tale by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm

Directed by David Hand

Story adaptation by Ted Sears, Richard Creedo, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank  and Webb Smith

Produced by Walt Disney

Music by Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith

Art Direction by Ken Anderson, Tom Codrick, Hugh Hennesy, Harold Miles, Kendall O’Connor, Charles Philippi, Hazel Sewell, Terrell Stapp, McLaren Stewart, Gustaf Tenggren, John Hubley

Starring:

Adroama Caselotti as Snow White

Lucille La Verne as the Queen/Witch

Roy Atwell as Doc

Eddie Collins as Dopey

Pinto Colvig as Sleepy and Grumpy

Billy Gilbert as Sneezy

Otis Harlan as Happy

Scott Mattraw as Bashful

Moroni Olsen as Magic Mirror

Harry Stockwell as Prince

Marion Darlington as Bird Sounds and Warbling

Stuart Buchanan as Huntsman

No film in history has captured the world’s imagination like Walt Disney’s first full-length animated masterpiece.  Through astonishing Blu-ray high definition technology, experience this timeless classic in its most spectacular presentation ever! With an all new, state-of-the-art digital restoration and Disney enhanced High Definition sound, the breathtaking animation and unforgettable music o the most revered Disney film of all time will enthrall you like never before!

Join the beautiful princess Snow White as she escapes her jealous stepmother, the queen, and befriends a lovable group of dwarfs.  When she falls under the queen’s wicked spell, only true love’s kiss can save her.

The Blu-ray looks fantastic.  For this classic film from 1937 to look so vibrant, so spectacular, so beautiful 72 years later is a testament towards Disney’s restoration and remastering.  The picture quality is absolutely pristine.  The new lossless  7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is magnificent.  “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition” is highly recommended!

For Walt Disney, seeing a play back in 1916 of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” based on the fairty tale by the Brothers Grimm definitely made the producer to attempt something that has never been done before and that is to create a full-length color animated film.

Known for their “Silly Symphony” animated shorts, the 1937 animated film definitely silenced anyone who thought that Disney was not able to pull off a full-length animated feature.  Even Walt Disney’s wife thought that no one would want to watch a film that starred dwarfs but needless to say, the film that was called “Disney’s Folly” by naysayers would receive critical praise and even demand by fans for a sequel.  The film would be not only be a classic animated film which was honored by the American Film Institute as the “Greatest Animation of All Time”.  Even today, adjusted by inflation, the film is considered one of the top 10 money making films in America of all time.

In 2001, when the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was released on DVD, the DVD was one of the films that were known for its innovation, winning a “Video Premiere Award” for “Best Overall New Extra Features” and nominated for “Best DVD Menu Design” and “Best New, Enhanced or Reconstructed Movie Scenes”.

But now in 2009, the film makes its High Definition entry on Blu-ray with 1080p High Definition picture quality and 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound.  Also, a Disney Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack (two Blu-ray discs and a DVD version of the film) which comes out on October 6,  seven weeks before its Deluxe Two-Disc Classic standard definition DVD which will be released on Nov. 24th.  It’s also important to note that a limited edition collector’s set will also be available

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is a film about a princess named Snow White who lives with her wicked stepmother, the Queen.  Her stepmother always consults the magic mirror on who is the fairest one of all, and the magic mirror would reply that she is but this time the mirror tells the Queen that Snow White is the fairest one of all.

Not a caring stepmother, she has Snow White working as a Scullery Maid and is seen wearing clothes that are patched up and are in tatters.  But Snow White is always jovial, singing and playing with her animals who respond to her.

But one day, a prince comes to her and wants to be with her, the wicked step mother sees this and is immediately jealous.  The wicked queen asks her huntsman to take Snow White into the forest where she can pick wildflowers and then he will kill her and as proof of killing her, he must return with Snow White’s heart in a box.

As the huntsman, goes to do what the Queen has ordered him to do, he can’t.  He tells Snow White that her stepmother has ordered him to kill her and that he should run as far as she can.  Snow White does and takes refuge at the home of the seven dwarfs: Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy and Dopey.

Can Snow White keep safe away from her evil step mother or will the Wicked Queen get to her?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” gets its 1080p High Definition transfer and its absolutely beautiful.  Viewers can choose to watch the film in its original 4:3 (1:33:1)  format and watch it  with DisneyView featuring Tony Bluth’s artwork on the side (for those who have widescreen televisions).  According to the guide included with this release, restoration experts took full advantage of the newest breakthroughs of digital imaging technologies to produce this classic.  The process took nearly a year of cleanup and scanning over 350,000 frames of the original 75-year-old negative.  And the digital artists then removed dust and scratches from the cels.

The picture quality is absolutely beautiful for a film that is 72-years old.  The restoration and remastering has removed all dust and scratches.  I don’t think I’ve seen any blemishes on video.  The picture quality is absolutely beautiful as art backgrounds just look absolutely divine. I don’t think I have realized how exquisite the backgrounds were, especially the amount of emotion that went into the animation.    Picture quality for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition” is definitely magnificent and I look forward to seeing Disney continue this trend of remastering their classic animated films.  As for DisneyView, similar to “Pinocchio”, Toby Bluth’s painted borders that are on the sides of the animation matches the animation quite fine and was definitely my preference over standard black bars.

As for the accompanying DVD, the DVD is featured in an aspect ratio of 1:33:1.

Audio is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), the original mono presentation and also French and Spanish 5.1 DEHT restored original theatrical soundtrack.  The film is dialogue and music driven with the soundtrack being front and center channel driven.  Music is also featured during the surround and rear surround channels as well.  Dialogue and music is crystal clear and understandable.    During the more emotional sequences, such as Snow White running away from home in the forest, definitely makes the room quite immersive, albeit a short while but overall, a good use of utilizing the music of Snow White through all channels.  There are other parts that really come through on all channels such as a shriek by Snow White coming clear from the rear surrounds which was quite nice (and surprising).  Overall, a solid lossless audio soundtrack for a 72-year old animated film.

As for the audio of the accompanying DVD, the DVD comes with an English, French and Spanish 5.1 DEHT soundtrack.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition” is absolutely loaded with special features.  In fact, I think this is the most special features I have ever seen for any video release of a film ever.  Special features range from 1080o High Definition and 480i Standard Definition.  Soundtrack is in English, French and Spanish 2.0.  Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.  Also is a booklet including a navigational overview of the special features included on both Blu-ray discs.

Special features included are:

DISC 1:

  • Magic Mirror – Using the latest in Blu-ray technology, the iconic magic Mirror guides the audience through the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition features with ease, serving as the host for an incredibly immersive experience. The Mirror will recognize viewing patterns, knows where the audience has left off and will even suggest where to navigate next. This marks the first use of this technology in a Disney Blu-ray release and provides viewers with the control to personally create a customized Snow White experience.
  • DisneyView – Disney’s pioneering animated feature is brought to the modern era of widescreen high definition viewing by allowing the user to expand their viewing experience beyond the original aspect ratio of the film. Utilizing Disney Blu-ray technology, acclaimed Disney artist Toby Bluth was able to draw beyond the borders of the classic full frame cinema and fill the otherwise dark edges of the screen with beautiful custom imagery, giving audiences a new view of the animated classic favorite.
  • About DisneyView – Disney artist Toby Bluth tells how the movie inspired him to create the superb DisneyView art.
  • Backstage Disney – Snow White Returns – (8:44) – Visiting Disney’s Animation Research Library and finding newly discovered storyboards for a Snow White featurette that was never made.  Also, the popularity of the dwarfs.
  • Deleted Scenes – Two scenes that were cut out of the film.  “The Soup Eating Sequence” (4:07) and the “Bed Building Sequence” (6:23)
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring rare recordings from Walt Disney discussing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and audio commentary by animation historian John Canemaker.
  • The Princess and the Frog Sneak Peek (7:45) – Featuring a brief sneak peek of the opening sequence of the upcoming Disney animated feature film “The Princess and the Frog” and an intro by Director/Writers Ron Clements and John Musker.
  • “Someday My Prince Will Come” music video – (3:34) A music video featuring Tiffany Thornton (actress from Disney’s “Sonny with a Chance”).
  • Family Play – Featuring the following games: What Do You See? (Decipher the Scrambled Image), Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (Which Princess are you most like? – With BD-Live, a personal message from their favorite princess will then call them on the telephone), Jewel Jumble (Test your Matching Skills – Players put jewels from the dwarf’s mine in the proper order.).
  • Screen Saver – Viewers can activate screen saver and choose the delay (to go on around 5, 10 or 20 minutes).
  • Learn How to Take Your Favorite Movies on the Go – (1:01) A trailer of Disney File Disc.

Disc 2:

  • Backstage Disney: Hyperion Studios – Audiences are digitally transported to 1937 to discover first-hand Hyperion Studios, the original studio Walt Disney himself built where Snow White was conceived and developed. Viewers will virtually walk the halls of this historic landmark, experiencing life at Hyperion Studios in the 1930s. This lengthy, informative and brilliant“Backstage Disney” feature contains newly dimensionalized archival photos, never-before-heard animator recordings, archival transcripts and rare footage of Walt himself revealing how Disney’s gifted filmmakers crafted the very first animated feature.Hours of footage of the original studio that Walt Disney and the animators worked at in creation of the early Disney shorts and their first animated feature film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.  Even the sub-menus have content and comments from the animators who worked at Hyperion Studios back then.

The One that Started It All – (17:08) Disney’s first attempt at a full-length animated feature film and how naysayers responded to the film.

Family Business – (1:57) Wilfred Jackson talks about working at Hyperion Studios

View Where it All Began – (11:41) The history of Hyperion Studios

* The Story Room – Ken Anderson and Frank Thomas would talk about working with Walt Disney for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

Five Bucks a Gag – (1:46) Discussions of how Walt Disney would pay $5 or $10 for people to submit their gags.

In Walt’s Words: The Huntsman – (3:28) Ron Clements talks about how Walt Disney’s meetings were back then and how they differ from how meetings are done today’s animated films.

Walt’s Night Prowls – (1:52) How Walt Disney would go through the staff’s garbage cans and post on the board of what he thought about the things they threw away.

Babes in the Woods (8:04) – Walt’s interest in European stories and how “Babes in the Woods” was originally based on “Hansel & Gretel”.

Stories from the Stories Room – (1:14) A story of how the animators would have thumbtack targets.

Gabby, Blabby and Flabby – (1:14)  A list of names in consideration for the Dwarfs.

–  Abandoned Concepts Gallery – Using your remote, you can see the various pictures in the abandoned concepts gallery. Nine pictures per page, seven pages total.

Storyboard Art Gallery – Using your remote, you can see the various pictures in the abandoned concepts gallery. Nine pictures per page, 14 pages total.

* The Music Room

David Hand’s Dirty Trick – (1:18) How David Hand upset Walt Disney

The Music in Show White – (6:14) Michael Glachino (composer of “Up”) talks about the importance of music and the music in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

The Skeleton Dance – (6:02) John Musker talks about Silly Symphonies and introduces the first musical short titled “The Skeleton Dance”.

Music Room Host – (:48)  How staff would work together in the music room back then for Disney’s animated shorts.

* Art Department

–  The Idea Man – (1:41) Original recordings from Disney staff as they talk about the talent of Albert Hurter.

Creating the World of Snow White -(6:53) The authenticity of the Brothers Grimm tale through visual styling.  A European style and influenced by artists from Europe who worked at Disney on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

“Music Land” – (10:15) – Michael Giaimo talks about Albert Hurter who drew quick sketches and would create hundreds and thousands and showcase expressions.  Giaimo introduces the “Silly Symphonies” animated short – “Music Land”.

Visual Development Gallery – Using your remote, you can view the visual development gallery.  Nine pictures per page, 17 pages total.

Gustav Tenggren Art Gallery – Using your remote, you can view the art gallery.  Nine pictures per page, two pages total.

In Walt’s Words: Cleaning the Cottage – (7:03) Eric Goldberg talks about Walt’s favorite sketch artist.  Featuring recordings of Walt Disney.

* Character Design– Ward Kimball talked about how Hurter’s sketches would go to character designers.

In Walt’s Words: The Dwarfs – (5:49) John Musker introduces a re-enactment of the Dwarf meetings.

Color Tests Gallery – Using your remote, you can view the color tests gallery with nine images per page, two pages total.

Character Design Gallery – Using your remote, you can view the five sketches.

* Background and Layout – David Hand talks about the layout man.

Setting the Stage – (4:04) – Don Hahn talks about staging in animation.  Viewing original artwork from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

Layout Gallery -Using your remote you can view through the layout gallery.  Nine pictures per page, 13 pages total.

Backgrounds Gallery – Using your remote you can view through the background gallery.  Nine pictures per page, three pages total.

* Animation Department

Bringing Snow White to Life – (11:33)  A featurette about the nine key animators of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

Goddess of Spring – (10:04) Andrew Stanton introduces the 1934 Silly Symphony animated short, “Goddess of Spring”.

The Animators’ Favorite Animators – (2:00)  Old recordings from the animators talking about their favorite animators that they worked with.

Playful Pluto – (8:09) Paula Sigman introduces us to personality animation through the animated short “Playful Pluto”.

Blowing Off Steam – (2:17) Milt Kahl about animators would blow off steam and the pranks they would pull on other staff members.

Animation Art Gallery – Using your remote, you can view the animation art gallery.  Nine pages per page, five pages total.

* Live Action Reference – Ward Kimball talks about how they wanted to accomplish “believability” for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

Live Action Host – (:50) John Musker talks about rotoscoping and more.

Drawing on Real Life – (1:37) Wilfred Jackson  and others talk about how they would act things out for the storyboards.

Live Action Reference Gallery – Using your remote, you can view the live action reference gallery which features nine photos per page, three pages total.

Giving Voice to Snow White – (2:46) –  How Adrianna Castelotti was cast for the role as Snow White.

* Sweatbox – David Hand talks about the sequences of the film and having to approve them in a sweatbox.

Sweatbox Host – (:53) Eric Goldberg talks about the screening and approval of their work and progress in rooms with no ventilation aka the Sweatbox and how the name continues to be used today.

Sweating it Out – (1:09) Ollie Johnston would talk about working with Walt Disney in the sweatbox.

Deleted Bedroom Fight Scene – (2:26) A fight scene amongst the dwarfs that was cut out during a sweatbox session.

* Ink and Paint – Marcellite Garner talks about working at Hyperion.

Life in the Nunnery – (1:59) Lucy and Isabelle Wheaton talk about how the women (inkers and painters) were not supposed to fraternized with the men at the animation department.

Flowers and Trees – (8:31) Paula Sigman talks about the color pallet.  The first technicolor and animated film to receive an Academy award – “Flowers and Trees”.

The Challenges of Ink and Paint – (1:41) Marcellite Garner talks about how women were not in the animation department at the time.  How women began as painters and became inkers.

Painted Cells Gallery – Using your remote, you can view the painted cells gallery.  Nine cells per page, two pages total.

* Camera DepartmentWilfred Jackson talks about the camera department.

Decoding the Exposure Sheet – (6:47) Don Hahn talks about the exposure sheet and the making of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.

The Old Mill – (9:06) Introduction to the first animated short by Ron Clements using the multi-plane camera, “The Old Mill”.

Stories from the Camera Department – (2:04) Eustace Lycett talking about working in the camera department.

* Sound Stage

Steamboat Willie – (8:02) Eric Goldberg talks about sound in Disney.  Goldberg introduces the Disney short “Steamboat Willy”.

Walt’s Early Masters of Sound – (1:51) Jim MacDonald talks about the sound stage.

* Walt’s Office –  Maurice Noble, background artist talks about Walt.

Working with Walt – (1:48) Wilfred Jackson talks about working with Walt.

Publicity Gallery – With your remote, you can view photos of the publicity for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.  Nine pictures per page, four pages total.

Production Photos Gallery – With your remote, you can view production photos.  Nine pictures per page, three pages total.

  • Classic DVD Bonus Features (featured on Blu-ray)

Animation Voice Talent – (6:18) A featurette with interviews with the animators, voice talent and Disney historians in regards to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.  How Walt Disney wanted the right voice for the characters.

Disney Through the Decades – (40 minutes) A featurette covering Disney from the 1930’s all the way up to the 2000’s but also chronicling each release of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” through the decades.  Each portion is introduced by celebrities such as Ming Na, Robby Benson, Angela Lansbury and more.

Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride – A video game to save Snow White in which viewers make decisions with their remote control.

“heigh-ho” Karaoke Sing Along – (2:42) In this portion, viewers can choose sing-along (with music and vocals) or karaoke (music only) for the song “heigh-ho”.

DVD:

The included DVD comes with the following special features:

  • The Princess and the Frog Sneak Peek (7:45) – Featuring a brief sneak peek of the opening sequence of the upcoming Disney animated feature film “The Princess and the Frog” and an intro by Director/Writers Ron Clements and John Musker.
  • “Someday My Prince Will Come” music video – (3:34) A music video featuring Tiffany Thornton (actress from Disney’s “Sonny with a Chance”).
  • Audio Commentary with Walt Disney

When the first “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” Platinum Edition DVD was released back in 2001, I felt that the DVD set the bar of the amount of special features and how innovative a DVD can be through seamless branching technology.  Needless to say, the DVD won several awards for its technology and so, when the announcement came that “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” will receive a Diamond Edition Blu-ray disc release, I was curious to see how Disney could top themselves because that release was already phenomenal.

I have since gone through the Blu-ray release and all I can say is…Wow!

Disney has not only topped the Platinum Edition release, they have set the bar once again for a Blu-ray release and the amount of content that can be included on a Blu-ray and let alone, how awesome they were able to digitally restore the classic 1937 film.

There was no doubt in my mind that Disney would give their first animated feature on Blu-ray the best treatment as possible and as this release is a celebration of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, it’s also a celebration of the talent behind the film.  Those who were involved with Hyperion Studios that created the “Silly Symphonies” animated shorts back in the early 1930’s and using the technology at that time and building it, in order to create their first full feature animated masterpiece.

In fact, not only do we get audio of those who worked on the film but we also are treated with those classic animated shorts such as “Babes in the Woods”, “The Skeleton Dance”, “Music Land”, “Goddess of Spring”, “Playful Pluto”, “The Old Mill”, “Steamboat Willie” and more.   And to make things even more impressive, these shorts are featured in HD (not cleaned up but still much better than their DVD counterparts). This Blu-ray release manages to capture the various process of the film from creating the story, the music, the art, the backgrounds, the layout, the animation, the live action references, decisions at the sweatbox meetings, ink and paint and how women were involved in the animated process at the time, the camera department, soundstage, etc.

So much is included on both Blu-ray discs in terms of special features, so much went into restoring this film, that this release is one, if not the top video releases of all time.  I have no doubt in my mind that probably ten years from now, this Blu-ray will be highly revered for its content.

I know that many people own the 2001 Platinum DVD Edition of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and are wondering if it’s worth the double dip and the answer is YES!  There is just so much included on the Diamond Edition, way more than the 2001 Platinum Edition.  Also, if you are now wanting these classic Disney films in High Definition, its definitely worth the move to see this classic film in High Definiton.  But I must say that you should not toss away your 2001 DVD edition because there are video clips such as the “Excerpt from The Story of Silly Symphony”, “Excerpt from Tricks of Our Trade”, “Camera Tests”, “Abandoned Concepts”, vintage audio (radio shows and spots are not included) and several songs and deleted scenes which are not included on this Diamond Edition release.

So, overall it’s a no-brainer that “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition” is definitely worth it.  For High Definition fans, the film looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray.  And as mentioned, the sheer amount of content included in this release is absolutely incredible.

I really don’t have any negatives but me being nitpicky that it would have been nice to have certain special features such as the vintage radio/audio content , a few deleted scenes, songs and video clip excerpts from the 2001 Platinum Edition DVD included on the Diamond Edition.  And personally, for me that is the only thing that prevents me from calling this release absolute perfection.  There was one other thing and that is my Blu-ray discs came in a black DVD case, not the standard blue casing.  I was told that there will be two releases (in different casing, not inc. the limited edition) with one in a blue Blu-ray case and another using black DVD casing in order to educate those new to Blu-ray.

I do think that Diamond Edition and the Platinum Edition are quite different in terms of presentation of special features and the goals were quite different of what kind of special features would be presented.  With the Platinum Edition, its solely focused on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and in the Diamond Edition, there is more focus on giving the viewer the history of Walt Disney and the animators of how they got from Silly Symphonies to using their skills and technology in creating the first animated feature film.  So, as I have said earlier in my review, this release is more or less, a celebration of those who worked on the film and giving recognition to those animators and staff members who took part in that film and the work that they did earlier, that became instrumental in creating Snow White.

So, overall…the Diamond Edition is just incredible when it comes to the actual digital restoration of this classic film and a release that is absolutely packed with special features.   “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Diamond Edition” is a solid release that raises the bar of what Disney is capable of in terms of content in a home video release.  This is truly a magnificent release and is highly recommended!






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