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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 5+

Animated classic is enchanting but also scary.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Disney's first animated film does contain a few scenes that might frighten young preschoolers. The scenes with the wicked queen are especially creepy, as are the parts when Snow White runs through the frighteningly enchanted forest, bites the poisoned apple, and when the Queen turns into the old hag. While the violence is far from bloody, the queen does order the huntsman to kill Snow White and bring back her heart. As is to be expected in a film made in 1937, Snow White is a passive damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by her true love, the prince.

  • Families can talk about how characters like Snow White might be different if they were created today, and what elements of the story make it a classic fairy tale.
  • How is the violence in Snow White different than the violence in other Disney movies?
  • Snow White is a traditional damsel in distress. How have depictions of princesses and heroines changed since 1937?
  • Why is the Queen jealous of Snow White? Why is being beautiful so important to her?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true1

    Educational value: Not an overtly educational film, except for the message that one should never harm the innocent, even when ordered to, like the huntsman.

  • message true2

    Messages: Not a message-filled movie, but the huntsman makes an ethical choice to disregard the evil Queen's immoral command that he kill Snow White. He shows mercy instead. Snow White never complains about her lot and finds the good in even dire circumstances. The dwarfs band together to defend Snow White.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Although Snow White is a passive female heroine -- the classic damsel in distress who dreams of being rescued by her prince -- she is also a paragon of generosity and selflessness. Snow White doesn't shun the dwarfs once she realizes the little house belongs to them instead of orphans. She is sweet, loving, nurturing, and trusting, albeit naive and gullible. The dwarfs are also brave, as they follow the Old Hag after they realize she has hurt Snow White. Obviously, the Wicked Queen is an example of bloodthirsty greed and hubris.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence and scariness: There are a few possibly disturbing scenes, especially any scene including the Wicked Queen. The Queen threatens and orders the huntsman to kill Snow White and return with her heart in a box. The huntsman raises a knife, and Snow White shrieks in terror. As Snow White flees, the enchanted forest becomes increasingly scary. Menacing vultures follow the Queen after she transforms into a creepy old hag. After Snow White faints into her "sleeping death," the dwarves arm themselves with their mining tools and follow the Queen, who eventually falls to her death.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: The prince kisses Snow White, and the songs are mostly of a romantic nature.

  • language false0

    Language: As has been noted by various film scholars and sociologists, the usually overlooked first word of the movie is "Slave!" as the Wicked Queen summons her slave in the "Magic Mirror."

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: Snow White is a Disney Princess, whose brand reaches far and wide. Expect to see Princess branding on consumer merchandise, food products, etc. as well as in books, websites, and other media.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not applicable