Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

image for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Short takes

Not suitable under 5; parental guidance to 6 (scary and violent scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • a review of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 14 October 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to scary and violent scenes and themes.
Children aged 5–6 Parental guidance recommended due to scary and violent scenes and themes.
Children over the age of 6 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact
Length: 83 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Snow White (voiced by Adriana Caselotti) is a beautiful and kind-hearted young princess who gets maltreated by her stepmother, a vain and vicious queen (voiced by Lucille LaVerne). The Queen is jealous that one day Snow White might be prettier than her and, so, she makes her dress in rags and work as a scullery maid. Every day the Queen consults a magic mirror, asking, "Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?", and is reassured when she hears that she is the fairest. But one day, the mirror tells her that he sees a lovely maid, whose gentle grace cannot be hidden under rags, and who is more beautiful than the Queen. The Queen's jealousy and rage is fired up further when she observes that a charming young prince (voiced by Harry Stockwell), attracted by Snow White's beautiful singing, is making advances. Outraged, she instructs a huntsman to take Snow White to pick wild flowers and kill her. The huntsman, however, cannot bring himself to kill the innocent girl, admits that the Queen wants her dead, and urges her to run far away and hide. Terrified, Snow White flees into the forest. She finds comfort and support from the forest animals who guide her to a little cottage deep in the woods. It turns out, the cottage belongs to seven dwarfs. Snow White begs them to let her stay, offering that in return she will cook and clean for them. Snow White and the Dwarfs grow very close and Snow White has not given up hope that one day she will meet the Prince again. At the castle, however, the Queen has found out that Snow White is still alive. She makes an evil plan to finally get rid of her beautiful rival, using black magic to disguise herself as an old hag, tracking Snow White down, and offering her a poisoned apple.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Disney Animated Classic; Fantasy Musical; Fairy tale; Innocent versus Evil; Friendship; Love.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • The Queen emotionally abuses Snow White, depriving her of any kindness or affection, and treating her stepdaughter like a minor servant.
  • The Queen cold-heartedly orders the huntsman to kill Snow White.
  • As proof of her death, the Queen wants the huntsman to bring back Snow White's heart.
  • When the dwarfs first discover that someone has intruded into their home, they want to kill the intruder.
  • The Queen prepares a poisoned apple that will make Snow White fall into a death-like sleep. She is not worried about the spell being broken but expects Snow White to be buried alive.
  • The dwarfs go after the Queen with clubs and axes, and chase her up a mountain. She falls to her death while trying to release a large boulder to kill the dwarfs.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The huntsman raises his hunting knife over Snow White, who screams in terror.
  • Snow White runs into the forest, frightened, panicking, screaming, and encountering all sorts of scary-looking creatures with scary claws, sharp teeth, and glowing eyes. It is implied that they spring from her imagination and fear but the intensity of Snow White's terror might frighten or disturb young or sensitive viewers.
  • The hag looks very scary and evil.
  • When the dwarfs and forest animals believe that Snow White is dead they are very sad and distressed.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

  • None noted.

In a nutshell

Disney's 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the first feature-length, animated film in history and has been fascinating and entertaining generation after generation ever since. Based on a traditional Brother Grimm tale, the story contains some very dark themes, and the scary and violent themes and scenes might be too much for a very young audience, and parental guidance is recommended for young and/or sensitive viewers.

There have been critical voices, mainly from feminist quarters, commenting on dated stereotypes, for example Snow White being a passive damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by a man, who then goes to violate her boundaries by kissing her without her consent. It should be considered though, that the character of Snow White originates from a different time in which gender roles and expectations were different from today. Within her context and circumstances, Snow White can in fact be viewed as a strong and resilient woman, who, despite the maltreatment, has stayed true to her kindness, has not lost hope, and makes the best of her circumstances by using the skills and traits she possesses. As far as the prince and the kiss go, again, it should be respected that a) this is a classic fairy tale, and b) Snow White and the Prince have met before and it was clearly implied that there is mutual attraction. The story and gender roles should be viewed in the context of time, however, both from when the folk story originated and also when the movie was produced.

The main messages from this movie are that what goes around comes around; that kindness will eventually be returned; and that when times are tough, one stays positive and hopeful.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Kindness and modesty
  • Staying positive
  • Making the best of one's circumstances
  • Never giving up hope
  • Friendship.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Vanity: all the Queen cares about is to make sure that she is the most beautiful woman in the kingdom.
  • Jealousy: jealousy drives the Queen to not stop at any measures, and as a consequence of her blind jealousy, she emotionally abuses her innocent stepdaughter and wants her dead.