Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Days of Halloween - Day 17

Walt Disney's 1937 masterpiece, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is chock full of horror imagery from Snow White's panicked flight in the forest to the Queen's prisoner reduced to a skeleton having died trying to reach a bowl presumedly filled with water just out of reach to the final confrontation between the dwarves and the queen in her old hag disguise. It also has plenty of horror elements which are suggested and never seen including a heart in a box.

The horror highlight of the film is the Queen's transformation scene. Despite the illogic of the vain queen transforming herself into an old hag in her quest to be the fairest of them all, it's a masterpiece of filmmaking influenced by German expressionist cinema, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) and the Universal movies of director James Whale, and influential in itself to later movies such as The Wizard of Oz (1939), the sequence is chock full of spooky imagery, sounds, and music. 

The sequence begins with the Queen, animated by Art Babbitt and voiced by Lucille La Verne descending a spiral staircase, her cloak swirling in her wake into a dungeon infested by rats and skeletons designed by Charles Phillipi and Hugh Hennesy. Here she enters a room filled with beakers, flasks, and books of black magic. She startles a raven and casts aside the box containing the heart of a pig, then begins to assemble the ingredients that will transform her into her disguise of an old hag. 

The pacing and artistry of the scene is flawless and enhanced by the sound effects work of Jimmy MacDonald and the music of  Leigh Harline and Paul Smith. Using the raven as a sinister, and at times, frightened witness to the process added to the atmosphere of dread and anticipation. 

The lightning strike which activates the potion marks the end of the preparation of the formula, and the beginning of the transformation itself which will be featured here tomorrow. 



Dane said...

The art of this movie is so beautiful. I'll be happy to see this feature continued.

Robert Pope said...

Just LOOKING at those damned stills makes the hair stand up on my arms. Genius.

Michael Jones said...

Once again, we have done a parallel posting and I have several of the same images as you do in my blog. You've mastered the screen capture though whereas I froze and photographed.
The extra disc had some deleted scenes added such as a closeup of the potion with skulls floating in it. Did you get to see the extras?