The Disney: a vain Evil Queen tries to kill her stepdaughter, who finds refuge in the forest cottage of seven little men.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves makes a ridiculous impact as the world’s first feature animation film. Released in 1938, it’s impossible to comprehend how revolutionary it was for critics who thought it couldn’t be done, audiences who rarely saw colour film and Walt Disney himself, setting the fairytale musical template his studio still works to 80 years later. Ignore the fifty-something stories that have directly followed it: Whistle While You Work and Heigh-Ho remain iconic even to those who’ve never seen this first film.
Snow White herself is also ridiculous. She sings and rhymes her way through any problem in a sickly-sweet voice. Her dress and hair remains flawless despite a near-death nightmare chase in the forest. And she’s waiting for her prince to come, who’s ‘so romantic I could not resist.’ Girl, you did resist. You ran away from him in the film’s opening minutes.
Suffice to say, no one was drawn to have a deep characterisation. The lyrical score propels the film forward rather than a screenplay. It heightens the classic slapstick scenes that win your affection: forest animals doing housework, dwarves learning how to wash and Dopey dancing at their own cottage cabaret.
You notice the flat faces, static backgrounds and occasional blurry line watching the film now, though it’s digital restoration has made it a good quality watch. The total lack of subtlety is a surprising strength too for the Evil Queen, who remains timelessly terrifying to watch in her calculated scenes. I also developed a soft stop for Grumpy, over-looking his initial misogynic view that ‘all females are poison, full of wicked wiles.’ He’s the pessimist and only voice to question what’s happening but quickly comes round care for their new princess house-mother as much as the others.
The charm of Snow White lies in its innocence (everything we’ve now seen mocked by Enchanted and Frozen) though its sudden-end is a let down that makes you wonder how Disney ran out of script, money or both. I didn’t like the princess who challenges nothing but my heart did feel a little warmer from watching.
The Bake: Winter Pimms Loaf
Did you know they make a Winter Pimms, designed to be served warm? Even in December it can be hard to find anywhere but Waitrose or John Lewis, but you can order it online all year round. This loaf is inspired by a (summer) Pimms cake recipe my boss gave me, and an Apple and Cinnamon Loaf by Jack Monroe. If you need a non-alcohol cake, either leave out the Pimms or pick Jack’s recipe.
- 225g unsalted butter
- 125g caster sugar
- 4 beaten eggs
- 225g self-raising flour
- 3 chopped red apples
- Zest and juice of one orange
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 150ml Winter Pimms
- Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the beaten egg a little at a time.
- Fold in the flour and cinnamon.
- Fold in the chopped apples and orange zest. Pour in 50ml of the Winter Pimms.
- Pour the mixture into your tin (I went for a loaf this time, but I’ve done it as a round cake before) and bake for about 50 minutes at 180°C or gas mark 4.
- Stir the orange juice into the 100ml Winter Pimms still left. Prick the cooked cake and pour the mixture over the surface a little at a time.
I finished my cake with lightly whipped cream (150ml will do) and apple slices. The Winter Pimms and hint of cinnamon gives it a moreish kick.
Bring out the bake when Snow White calls the dwarves to dinner, just over halfway through the film at 45 minutes. And if you’re watching with kids, play up the moment when Snow White eats the poisoned apple!
Post-cake chat: Did the wishing apple actually work for Snow White?
Let me know your thoughts on Snow White and your baking snaps using #DisneyAndBakes or commenting below. Next month we’re off to Italy with Pinocchio!