Computer animation can be a marvelous thing, and studios such as Pixar have taken it to a new level of excellence. So it’s hard to imagine what a marvel Snow White was when it was released in 1937. It was the first American full-length animated feature, and the first ever produced by the master himself, Walt Disney (Great American Things, April 14, 2009). It’s the first to have a soundtrack released, and the first to have merchandising support.
Also hard to believe today is that most of those closest to Walt Disney tried to talk him out of making the film, including his brother Roy and his wife. “No one’s going to pay a dime to see a dwarf picture,” she said. Walt thought it would cost $250,000 to produce, and ended up as a then unheard of $1.5 million. Disney had to mortgage his home to get the picture finished. The industry called it “Walt Disney’s Folly.”
But audiences loved it. It became the highest-grossing film of all time, a distinction it held for one year (Gone With the Wind). The movie earned Disney an honorary Academy Award “as a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field.” The American Film Institute has named it number 34 in its 100 Years…100 Movies series, and the number one animated film of all time.