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Posts Tagged ‘Snow White’

Snow Day

August 27, 2014 | by

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Still from Snow White.

Disney’s Snow White is an animation classic, and a beautiful one. But if you’re looking for something altogether weirder (albeit shorter) go back four years, and check out the Fleischer Studios’s 1933 Snow White. Technically, this is a Betty Boop short, and it’s true that the iconic flapper does indeed play “the fairest in the land.” But the cartoon is really a showcase for all kinds of wholly unrelated tricks.

Although it’s technically a “Fleischer Brothers” production, in fact Max and Dave Fleischer didn’t have much to do with Snow White, which is considered the masterpiece of animator Roland Crandall. Apparently Crandall was given free rein on this short as a reward for all his work for the studio, and took full advantage. It’s incredibly innovative, and seriously trippy. This isn’t the only Fleischer Brothers cartoon to employ the voice talents of bandleader Cab Calloway, or even his rotoscoped moves (he also cameoed as the Old Man of the Mountain), but it’s the best: as Koko the Clown, and then a ghost, Calloway does a haunting rendition of the “St. James Infirmary Blues,” and then what might be the first recorded instance of the moonwalk. What does any of this have to do with the story of Snow White? Not all that much. But that’s what Disney was for.

(To see the full seven-minute version, click here.)

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Whistle While You Work

May 19, 2014 | by

The_Figurine_by_W._Paxton_-_1921

William Paxton, The Figurine, 1921

“Many people tolerate squalor,” a friend once said to me. “But you’re the only person I know who seems to have a positive preference for it.”

Evidence to the contrary, I don’t, in fact, enjoy filth and chaos. But I do have a high threshold for it. I seem to lack a certain fastidiousness gene, and I’m guilty of what the British call, terrifically, “sluttish housekeeping.” I am not someone who will ever derive pleasure or satisfaction from cleaning—like running, it is a taste I doubt I will ever acquire. There is always a heap of clothing in my bedroom, generally schmutz on my mirrors, and invariably a mysterious profusion of change on the floor, everywhere. These are the sorts of things suitors think are cute and quirky, and that actual boyfriends come to understand are in fact heavy crosses to be borne.

In spite of—or perhaps because of—my own messiness, I enjoy depictions of cleaning to an unusual degree. Specifically, I love any montage in which order is imposed on chaos. Desirable elements include energetic sweeping, fresh coats of paint, clouds of dust, windows being thrown open. Is this because I somehow crave order, or just that Snow White was the second film I ever saw on the big screen? (War Games was the first.) I don’t know, but either way, I love to watch them while lounging in my unmade bed, generally surrounded by crumbs. Read More »

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Chamber of Secrets: The Sorcery of Angela Carter

October 17, 2012 | by

Illustration by Igor Karash

Fairy tales were reviled in the first stirrings of post-war liberation movements as part and parcel of the propaganda that kept women down. The American poet Anne Sexton, in a caustic sequence of poems called Transformations, scathingly evokes the corpselike helplessness of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, and scorns, with fine irony, the Cinderella dream of bourgeois marriage and living happily ever after: boredom, torment, incest, death to the soul followed. Literary and social theorists joined in the battle against the Disney vision of female virtue (and desirability); Cinderella became a darker villain than her sisters, and for Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in their landmark study The Madwoman in the Attic, the evil stepmother in “Snow White” at least possesses mobility, will, and power—for which she is loathed and condemned. In the late sixties and early seventies, it wasn’t enough to rebel, and young writers and artists were dreaming of reshaping the world in the image of their desires. Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan had done the work of analysis and exposure, but action—creative energy—was as necessary to build on the demolition site of the traditional values and definitions of gender.

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