Snow White Lives

"The one that started it all" - that's how Disney Studios describes its first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the film that proved the naysayers wrong back in 1937 by drawing millions of people into theaters to watch an 83-minute cartoon. Walt Disney's groundbreaking film paved the way for all the beloved features that followed, from Pinnochio and Fantasia to Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, and became the foundation of his fabled empire.

Hoping that the film will work its considerable magic on a new generation of viewers, the studio designated Snow White as the first of its classics for DVD release. Slated to hit store and cyber shelves October 9, it will launch the Platinum DVD series, with one Disney favorite to be released each October over the next decade.

Rather than just give the film a pristine transfer to disc, the studio is using this release to rethink how it approaches the DVD format. Just as Walt himself staked the future of his studio on the success of Snow White, the studio is betting this DVD will distinguish Disney as a trailblazer in the new format.

"I was 7 years old when the movie was released, and I remember the emotion surrounding it," said Roy E. Disney, the son of Walt's brother and long-time business partner, Roy O. Disney. "In the Disney family it was a tremendous event. If Walt had chosen to go on making short subjects, we probably would still be okay, but Snow White was such an enormous leap of faith about the medium of animation. No one believed a feature-length animation could be made, that it wouldn't be just a string of gags. Snow White showed how we could use animation to express emotions and character.

"Now that DVD as a medium has exploded on us in the last few years," he told me in the avuncular style of Walt himself, "the digital technology has given us the ability to reproduce exactly what was intended for the color and sound. And it's important that we're looking at the original work in the way it was intended to be seen."

Snow White's Digital Makeover