Film #286: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

creator: Walt Disney
language: English
length: 83 minutes
watched on: 28 April 2017

I think I watched this as a child, but it was so long ago I can’t remember it at all. Anyway, recently some of the less reputable shops in Japan have been selling old Disney movies for ¥80 a pop – it says on the sleeve that they’re now in the public domain. I suspect that this isn’t the case in America or the UK, but I don’t know. The knock-off DVDs are pretty low quality, though, of course. You can see the interlacing and it skipped a couple of times during the movie.

I kind of assume you all know what happens in this movie. I knew the basic story already, it’s just the details that have escaped me. I don’t really know what I expected from this period (compare with His Wedding Night (1917), for example), but the gender roles are ridiculously strong in this movie. Snow White controls everything around her with her beauty (the animals do her bidding when she sings), and her role in the dwarfs’ lives is to be a positive feminine force – she basically makes a deal to stay with them if she can do all their housework for them, and before she arrives, they’re slovenly, like college students. As for Prince Charming, I think he has a total of about two minutes’ screen time. Not quite enough to establish a romance, I’d have thought.

Things I liked included Dopey, basically a silent film character whose role is to provide slapstick humour, and the few sequences in the movie that were actually kind of scary, like when the dwarfs chase the witch away up a cliff during a thunderstorm. The dwarf characters are all established well and have distinctive characters, even when they have very little screentime – this is in direct contrast to movies (and indeed books) like The Hobbit. Over the course of that trilogy, I could only reliably distinguish about three of the dwarves by character, and I couldn’t remember any of their names.

It was also nice to hear the songs, although “Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it’s off to work we go” is still the only one I actually know in any capacity. And I found the film funny, mostly. It’s nice to revisit things like this. I got two more ¥80 DVDs at the same time, so I will eventually watch and review those too. Watch this space, I guess.

How about you? What’s your favourite Disney movie?

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Film #138: Persona (1966)

personaDirector: Ingmar Bergman
Language: Swedish
Length: 80 minutes
Watched on: 1 Jan 2015

I went through a brief spate a few years ago, fuelled by friends and family members who had the DVDs, of watching Bergman films. I still hold Fanny and Alexander, at five hours long the longest film I’ve ever seen, up as one of my favourites and one that I would definitely rewatch if I had the time.

Somehow, though, I managed to miss Persona, which is usually down on the lists of recommended films as Bergman’s tour de force. But I finally got to it this New Year.

The film is about two women, one famous and the other taking care of her. The famous one is either mute or just doesn’t talk for the entire film, leaving the other one sometimes practically doing dialogue for two.

It’s now been too long for me to recall many specific images from the film -many of these are fleeting and unrelated to the plot anyway – but I do remember a particularly expertly crafted film, particularly when it came to the ending, which had just the right balance of weirdness and confusion.

As a result, I’d happily recommend the film on that basis alone. It reminded me how good cinema can be, and that unlike a lot of the drivel I watch most of the time, being weird or incomprehensible doesn’t mean one has to sacrifice quality. A good start to a new year.