Filmsite Movie Review 100 Greatest Films
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

To surprise them, in an enchanting scene, the dusty, messy house is straightened up and cleaned (using her years of experience as a maid), with the help of the animals. "Then, maybe they'll let me stay," she wishes. The dishes are washed, the room is tidied up, the fireplace is cleaned, the laundry is scrubbed and hung to dry, and Snow White uses the broom. While they all clean, she sings (and whistles) "Whistle While You Work."

Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place.
So hum a merry tune, it won't take long,
When there's a song, to help you set the pace.

In a sparkling diamond mine, the occupants of the cottage - the Seven Dwarfs - each with a distinct personality, finish their digging work for the day, singing the "Dig, Dig" song: "We dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig. In a mine the whole day through. We dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig, dig. It's what we like to do. It ain't no trick. To get rich quick. If you dig, dig, dig, with a shovel or a pick. In a mine. In a mine. In a mine. In a mine. Where a million diamonds shine." One of the dwarfs, Dopey, puts two diamonds in his eyesockets for a sparkling effect.

At five o'clock, sunset and quitting time, they start their march home with pick axes on their shoulders, singing "Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho," whistling during the chorus. Their gigantic, marching shadows from the setting sun precede them on a red sandstone cliff wall. They pass by a brilliant, sparkling waterfall while singing:

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's home from work we go.
Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho,
It's home from work we go.

Snow White leads the animals upstairs with: "Let's see what's upstairs." She sees seven "adorable little beds." The beds have hand-carved names on them, and she reads them aloud:

Doc, Happy, Sneezy, Dopey, ha, ha, ha, what funny names for children. Grumpy, Bashful, and Sleepy.

After she reads the name Sleepy, she yawns and stretches, realizing that she is tired herself. Snow White lies down crosswise on three of the beds, surrounded by the dozing animals. Offstage, the sound of the dwarfs singing their marching home song is heard. The animals hear them first, dash to the window, and then run out of the house to hide.

Leading the line of dwarfs, Doc notices a change in their home's appearance: "Look. Our house. Lits light...Lights lit." They all exclaim: "Jimminy crickets!" [This exclamation foreshadowed a new Disney character that would appear in the animated Pinocchio (1940) three years later.] They suspect that maybe there's a ghost, goblin, or a dragon in the house. Grumpy predicts: "Mark my words, there's trouble a-brewing! Felt it comin' all day. Corns hurt!" They sneak on tiptoe into the house through the front door. Doc nervously orders them to: "Be careful men. Search every cook and nanny, hook and granny, crook and...uh, Search everywhere!" They are surprised to see a totally clean, orderly house, in an amusing sequence:

Look. The floor, it's been swept. Hey, chair's been dusted. Our window's been washed. Gosh, our cobwebs are missing. Why, why, why the whole place is clean!...Sink's empty. Hey! Someone stole our dishes! They ain't stole. They're hid in the cupboard. My cup's been washed!

Grumpy suspects the worst - soup cooking in the kettle above the fire is a witch's brew. Shivering from fright, Doc suspects something upstairs: "It's up there. In the bedroom. But one of us has got to go down and chase it up, uh, uh, uh, up, down." They all nod approval, choosing Dopey to lead them. As he climbs the stairs, they watch from below, assuring: "Don't be afraid. We're right behind you."

As he enters the bedroom, a figure stretches under a sheet, appearing to be a ghost. Dopey scampers downstairs in sheer fright, sending all of them out the door and leaving him locked behind. After mistakenly attacking Dopey thinking that he's the monster, they ask him for a full report: "Did you see it? How big is it? Was it a dragon? Has it got horns? Was it breathing fire? Was it drooling? What was it doing?" Dopey pantomimes that it was sleeping.

This time, they all approach the bedroom to attack, thinking it a big ghostly monster because it covers three beds. Doc suggests that they "kill it before it wakes up." The sheet is pulled aside to reveal a pretty girl, a sleeping Snow White just before they strike. One of them thinks she is "beautiful, just like an angel." Grumpy thinks otherwise, warning against women: "Angel huh! She's a female. And all females is poison. They're full of wicked wiles," although he doesn't know the meaning of his words.

Just then, Snow White wakes up, asking herself: "I wonder if the children are..." and then she sees them peeking at her with blinking eyes and big noses from the foot of the beds. She realizes: "Why, why they're little men! How do you do? I said, 'How do you do?'" Grumpy is first to speak, crossing his arms: "How do you do what?"

Having learned their names and distinctively comical characteristics from the beds, she greets each of them, guessing who they are. [Their personalities are marvelously differentiated and displayed by the Disney animators, matching their names.] Grumpy is last to be identified, and then he suspiciously remarks: "We know who we are. Ask her who she is! What she's been doing here." Doc rephrases the question incorrectly: "What are you, and who are you doing?"

After introducing herself as Snow White, they know her as the Princess. They are honored, except for Grumpy who feels "mad as hornets" and wants to tell her to get out. Snow White begs sweetly: "Please don't send me away. If you do, she'll kill stepmother, the Queen." Grumpy warns everyone about the danger Snow White poses for them: "She's an old witch...If the Queen finds her here, she'll swoop down and wreak her vengeance on us." Snow White calms their fears: "But she doesn't know where I am." Grumpy tells them about the Queen's magical powers: "She knows everything. She's full of black magic. She can even make herself invisible. Might be in this room right now." Snow White insists the Queen will never find out, and offers to be their housekeeper if they let her stay: "I'll wash and sew and sweep and cook." "Cook!" they reply in unison, deciding that they will adopt her - "she stays!"

But she insists that the dwarfs wash before they eat supper. They ask: "Why wash? What for?" Grumpy complains when he realizes "there was a catch to it." They try to escape the washing, claiming they washed "recently." Their dirty hands are inspected, proving to Snow White that "this will never do." They are marched outside, reluctantly bolstering up their courage for the cold, wet water, singing "Bluddle-Uddle-Um-Dum." Critical of everything, Grumpy expects that the next thing she will demand will be pretty ribbons in their hair and perfume. The dwarfs force Grumpy to submit to a scrubbing, and drag him over to the tub.

Back in the castle, the Queen, who holds the box supposedly containing Snow White's heart, asks her Magic Mirror again: "Magic Mirror on the wall. Who now is the fairest one of all?" The mirror tactlessly replies:

Over the seven jeweled hills, beyond the seventh fall, in the cottage of the seven dwarfs dwells Snow White, fairest one of all.

The Queen is confident the mirror is in error: "Snow White lies dead in the forest. The huntsman has brought me proof. Behold, her heart." The mirror replies: "Snow White still lives. The fairest in the land. It is the heart of a pig you hold in your hand." Realizing that she has been deceived and tricked, she descends her winding staircase down to her dungeon's laboratory where she casts spells. The dungeon is decorated with reminders of death - a few skulls and a skeletal weighing device. Once there, she vows: "I'll go myself to the dwarfs' cottage in a disguise so complete no one will ever suspect." From her bookshelf containing colorful reference books on Black Arts, Alchemy, Witchcraft, Black Magic, Sorcery, and Poisons, she pulls down a book on Disguises.

The evil Queen looks for a "formula to transform my beauty into ugliness, change my queenly raiment to a peddler's cloak." She decides on the magic potion recipe for a Peddler's Disguise. Her incantation of the formula for the ingredients is memorable:

Mummy dust to make me old. To shroud my clothes, the black of night. To age my voice, an old hag's cackle. To whiten my hair, a scream of fright. A blast of wind to fan my hate. A thunderbolt to mix it well. Now begin thy magic spell.

Immediately after drinking the boiling potion, a colorful whirlpool spins around her as she grabs her throat. Blue and yellow bubbles rise up and a bolt of lightning strikes - the transformations begin. Her hair turns white, her hands turn gnarly and ugly, and her voice becomes a hag's cackle. "A perfect disguise," she thinks, frightening her black crow pet. She pages through another book for a means to kill Snow White:

And now a special sort of death for one so fair. What shall it be? Ah! A Poison Apple. Sleeping Death. One taste of the Poisoned Apple and the victim's eyes will close forever in the Sleeping Death.

The round whites of her eyes expand as she decides how she will administer poison to Snow White.

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