Thoughts on a Live-Action Snow White

Disney recently announced that they will begin production on the live-action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This announcement was a long time coming, beginning with plans for a movie featuring Snow White's sister Rose Red from the fairy tale "Snow White and Rose Red" before ultimately deciding to go back to their standard route of lazily recreating something they already made. This wouldn't be the first live-action portrayal of Snow White for Disney. Ginnifer Goodwin starred as the fair-skinned princess for six seasons on ABC's Once Upon a Time, which was owned and shamelessly plugged by Disney. In my opinion, there are very few actresses who can convey the same combination of innocence, spirit, and altruism that Ginnifer brought to the character. In 2012, there were two live-action adaptations of "Snow White" in theaters from competing studios, neither of which were Disney. Still, this announcement marks the first time that Disney is remaking their very first animated feature for theatrical release, so there is bound to be a lot of controversy surrounding it.


If this movie had been announced prior to Disney's remake craze, people would have been completely outraged. After all, Snow White was the one that began Walt Disney's legacy as a studio that adapts classic fairy tales into high quality animated theatrical features. The movie recently celebrated its 80th anniversary two years ago. With a huge party at Sak's Fifth Avenue in New York City, Disney has made it crystal clear that they are aware and appreciative of their roots from this 1937 phenomenon. So why replace it? In the era of direct-to-video '90s sequels, it was an unspoken understanding that Disney would have lost their soul if they tried to do a cheap watered-down sequel to Snow White. The character was also missing from future plans for the failed Disney Princess Enchanted Tales series. Aside from its untouchable status in Disney history, the character of Snow White is also so outdated that even a small change would make her practically unrecognizable from the original film. As much as I loved Ginnifer Goodwin's performance in Once Upon a Time, it's difficult to imagine the 1937 version of Snow White running around with a bow and arrow and hunting down the evil queen's soldiers.


An easy solution to this would be to go the Maleficent route and retell the same story from a new perspective with an alternative ending. That's exactly what Disney was going to do with Rose Red. Rose was going to be Snow White's warrior princess sister who leads a rebellion to save her from their wicked stepmother. This would have allowed Snow White's personality to remain intact from her 1937 counterpart while still modernizing the story with an empowered heroine. Somewhere along the way, Disney decided that people are scared of change, so it would be more profitable for them to create something that looks more like the version they are already familiar with. Something similar happened with their recent Aladdin remake. The project was initially going to be a prequel to the 1992 animated classic called Genies, in which they would reveal the Genie's backstory and introduce other genies from Aladdin's world. This project was replaced with the more familiar-looking movie that we saw earlier this year. At least we can still learn about where genies come from with the underrated Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series.


Snow White is the last pre-millennium animated princess movie they are turning into a live-action remake. Following the announcement of Halle Bailey as Ariel for the 2021 remake of The Little Mermaid, every official Disney Princess prior to the year 2000 has a live-action counterpart with the exception of the fairest of them all. At this point, it seems almost insulting for them to leave out Snow White as she was the one who started the entire phenomenon. Disney must complete the circle and give their first animated princess an alternative movie for a newer generation. If they hadn't already announced it by now, they'd probably be getting complaints about why every other princess got this treatment except for her. The saddest thing about it is that Snow White has had more modernized non-Disney adaptations than any other fairy tale princess, including an animated sequel from the '90s. Unless they do something truly groundbreaking, the Disney remake will be just another movie to throw onto the pile of empowered Snow Whites who fight back against their evil stepmothers. That also brings up the question of whether or not giving Snow White an attitude and a weapon takes away the very thing that made her unique among the other princesses, but that's a topic for another post.


The Disney remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is happening whether we want it to or not, and all we can do is hope that it will actually be worth watching. It will be directed by Marc Webb and likely come out sometime after The Little Mermaid. It's a shame that studios are so afraid of change because I was intrigued by the concept of a Rose Red movie. Instead, we are probably going to get yet another sword-wielding empowered princess who refuses to sit around and wait for a prince to rescue her, even though that is exactly what the most famous song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was about. Does remaking the movie that put the Walt Disney Company on the map destroy their integrity as a creative and inspirational entity? I say no, but only because I think they already did that a while ago. This movie is just the icing on the cake.

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