The Evil Queen (Snow White)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a 1937 animated feature, the first produced by Walt Disney. It was the first animated feature to become widely successful within the English-speaking world and the first to be filmed in Technicolor.
The plot of the film explores the story of a jealous and wicked queen's attempt to have her stepdaughter murdered, but the stepdaughter escapes and is given shelter by seven dwarfs who live deep in a forest.
The film premiered on December 21, 1937 with a wide theatrical release by RKO Radio Pictures on February 8, 1938. The film was adapted by storyboard artists Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Merrill De Maris, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dick Rickard, Ted Sears and Webb Smith from the German fairy tale Snow White by the Brothers Grimm. David Hand was the supervising director, while William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, and Ben Sharpsteen directed the film's individual sequences.The Queen/Witch, was voiced by Lucille La Verne. The Queen is the stepmother of Snow White. Once her magic mirror tells her that Snow White is fairer than she is, she immediately enlists her huntsman to kill her in the woods. After she discovers that Snow White did not die, she disguises herself as an old hag and uses a poisoned apple in order to "kill" Snow White. While recording the voice of the Queen as the hag, Walt Disney was not happy with the voice Lucille La Verne was producing. After several retakes La Verne asked if she could go to the bathroom. When she returned and tried again to do the voice, she performed it perfectly. Amazed, Disney asked how she had achieved it. La Verne replied that she had removed her false teeth.
The Queen is a fictional character in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and in the Disney animated film based on it. The Queen was often referred to as "Queen Grimhilde" in Disney publications of the 1930s. Her appearance was inspired by the Helen Gahagan character in the film She (1935).
The Queen is extremely beautiful, but very vain. She seduced and married a widowed king, who had a daughter called Snow White with his first wife. After the king died, the Queen sent Snow White to work in her castle and forced her stepdaughter to abandon her title as Princess, similar to the situation of Cinderella.
The Queen ranks #10 in the American Film Institute's list of the 50 Best Movie Villains of All Time.
Brothers Grimm version
The original Brothers Grimm fairy tale is mostly the same as the Disney one, with a few differences.
- In the first edition, though not the subsequent ones, the Queen was Snow White's mother, not stepmother.
- The Queen did not use a potion to change herself into a witch, but instead dressed in a disguse of an old woman.
- She tried three times to kill Snow White: once with a boned corset to crush her ribs, once with a poisoned brush/comb, and finally with a poisoned apple.
Also, although the Queen did not die right after giving Snow White the poisoned apple, she was killed eventually. After Snow White and the Prince revealed her true nature, she was invited to their wedding, where she was forced to wear red-hot iron shoes and "dance until she dropped down dead."
The Queen possessed dark powers and knowledge, including the ability to summon wind and lightning, and a magical mirror with which she could look upon whatever she wished. The Magic Mirror showed a haunted, smoky face which replied to the Queen's requests. She regularly asked the Mirror who was the fairest in the land ("Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?"), and the Mirror always replied that she was.
However, one day, the Mirror told her that there was a new fairest woman in the land, her stepdaughter, Snow White. After observing the handsome Prince singing a love song to Snow White, the Queen, in a jealous rage, ordered her huntsman Humbert to take the Princess deep into the forest and kill her. He was ordered to bring back her heart to prove that he had done so.
Humbert could not bear to kill the young princess, so he tells her to run away and never to return. In order to escape the penalty, he returned with a pig's heart and gave it to the Queen. When she questioned her Mirror, it again replied that Snow White was the fairest in the land, and that she was living at the cottage of the seven dwarfs. It is unknown whether the Queen sends Humbert to his death or he escapes.
Chagrined and furious, the Queen goes down into the dungeon laboratory and mixes a potion that turns her into a hag, an old peddler woman. Her beauty is shrouded in ugliness; a true image of twisted evil. It is quite ironic that she, so obsessed with her own beauty, is willing to forsake it to destroy competition to it. It wrinkles her skin into that of an old lady and lengthens her nails into claws. This appearance of the Queen is commonly referred to as The Witch. She then conjures a poison apple which holds death-like sleep inside it, and proceeds to leave the castle. She is sure that no one would know or perform the counter-curse to her spell, and believes the dwarfs would bury Snow White alive, believing she was dead.
The Queen comes to the cottage, followed by two vicious vultures, and finds Snow White baking a pie. Snow White's animal friends realize that the old hag is the Queen. After an unsuccessful attempt to warn Snow White by attacking the Queen, they go to warn the dwarfs of the Queen's arrival.
The Queen tricks Snow White into letting her inside the cottage and eating the poisoned apple, telling her that it is a magic wishing apple. Snow White takes a bite and falls to the floor, apparently dead. The Queen rejoices in her victory, but is soon discovered by the Seven Dwarves, who chase her deep into the forest as a great storm started. She climbs up into the mountains, where she stands upon a precipice and attempts to push a large boulder onto the dwarfs with a large stick. All of a sudden, a flash of lightning strikes between her and the boulder, destroying the precipice. The Queen plummets into the dark chasm, and the boulder falls back, smashing her. As the dwarfs looked wide-eyed over the cliff's edge, the vultures fly past, apparently to devour her corpse.