07 April 2008

I'm wishing

This week I thought we’d take a look at a few of the girls, princesses, and ladies who have, throughout the course of our lives, made our little hearts go pitter-patter. Since Disney is best known for its princesses, we’ll start today with the princess who started it all, Snow White.
As a young boy living in Kansas City, Walt Disney was struck by a silent version of Snow White, starring Marguerite Clark, in 1916. This story stuck with Walt until 1934, when Walt sat down his team of animators and told them the story. Work began on Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with the first outline of the project being completed on August 9, 1934, a little over three years before it would premiere at the Carthay Circle Theater on December 21, 1937.

Early on, the animators had a serious problem with recreating realistic human figures that could perform just as flesh and blood actors could. To help compensate, Walt put The Goddess of Spring on the drawing board. This production would allow the animators figures to practice on before the real work on Snow White began, which had a much stricter code of reality that would be enforced. However, when The Goddess of Spring was released, Walt was still not satisfied that his crew had improved enough. To put an end to the problems once and for all, Walt increased the number of staff at the studio, adding a minimum of 300 artists who were trained in everything from architecture, painting, and, of course, illustrating. Along with increasing the size of the studio, Walt also began rigorous classes in character construction, animation, layout, background, mechanics, and direction. Some days, these classes would run from 8:00am until 9:00pm, but, the problem of realistic figures was solved.

Adriana Caselotti became the voice of, and animators’ model for, the raven haired princess, Snow White. According to Adriana, “It was the most wonderful experience of my life. I helped create a little bit of magic. I haven’t yet come down to earth. Snow White became part of my life, and has been with me ever since.”

One of Snow White’s most enduring, and touching, monuments can be found in Disneyland, the Snow White Grotto and Wishing Well.

“Although Adriana’s voice was far too distinctive ever to be used in another Disney movie, she became perhaps the most famous and recognized cartoon voice of all. In 1961 a Snow White Grotto was built beside the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. The Grotto featured exquisitely carved figures of Snow White, the dwarfs and some of the animals, but the sculptors lacked the animators’ discipline of scale and carved Snow White the same size as the dwarfs. By cunningly arranging them with Snow White a little above the dwarfs, a convincing false perspective was achieved.

Beside the Grotto stands a Wishing Well, where passers-by can make a wish and drop in a coin or two to help the work of children’s charities throughout the world. Every few minutes the Snow White figure in the Grotto sings the famous song “I’m Wishing,” and the Well sings back the echo.”
Richard Holliss and Brian Sibley, pp. 72-73, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs & the Making of the Classic Film

With attractions around the world, and a film that is regularly released from the Disney Vault, Snow White is sure to enchant audiences for many more generations. To close this evening, let us hear a few more words from Snow White herself, Adriana Caselotti. Presented here is the letter she wrote to Snow White’s Admirers on the film’s fiftieth anniversary:

“When I was selected to be the speaking and singing voice of Snow White in Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” fifty years ago, little did I know that I was going to be part of one of the greatest movies ever produced.

Indeed, it was a great honor, and it gave me great pleasure to work with Walt Disney and all the others in creating the world’s first full-length animated feature. An ageless film that will continue to be seen for years to come.

Let us hope that the fine qualities of goodness and love exhibited through the character of Snow White, be an inspiration and reminder to all mankind that we can achieve happiness and great satisfaction by performing what should be the simplest task of all; that of working together with one another to achieve our personal and common goals.

With Love,
Adriana Caselotti”

1 comment:

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for mentioning our book and the letter Adriana Caselotti wrote as an introduction to it. I'm delighted (as I know my co-writer, Richard Holliss, will be) and Adriana herself would be very pleased to now that people still remember her unique contribution to making "the fairest of them all"...