1937 was the year Walt Disney released his first full length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is the story of a young princess, Snow White, that lived with her egocentric and conceited stepmother, the Queen, who wanted to be the fairest of the land. Jealous of the princess’ beauty, the Queen orders a huntsman to kill the princess and cut out her heart. Though, the huntsman fails to do so and lets Snow White escape into the forest and tells her to never return to the castle, bringing to the Queen the heart of a pig instead of Snow White’s. The princess is able to find a cottage and live with the seven dwarfs that protect her, though when the Queen learns that Snow White is still alive, she disguises herself as an old hag, poisons an apple, and sets out to find the princess. Upon finding her, Snow White bites the apple and falls into the “Sleeping Death”. The dwarfs run after the queen and she falls down a cliff and dies. Snow White is then put in a glass coffin because she was too beautiful to bury and once the prince finds her, he kisses her lips, and she awakens by her true love’s first kiss. Then, they live happily ever after.
This Disney feature film was based on the Grimm Brothers’ version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, also known as “Snow-Drop”. But of course, the Grimm’s version was not so sweet and sugarcoated as Disney’s. Though, they had different versions of the story. On the version Walt Disney used to base his film on, Snow White is seven years old instead of fourteen, and the Queen tried to kill her three times. At first the Queen pulled Snow White’s laces so tight that she lost air, the second time she was poisoned by a comb in her hair, and the third time she was poisoned by the apple. The first two times, the princess is saved by the dwarfs and the third time she was saved by the prince but not with a true love’s kiss. Instead, when the prince picks her up, the piece of the poisoned apple falls out of her mouth and she awakens. The prince then marries Snow White and the Queen is so shocked of the news that she falls ill and dies.
The Grimm Brothers might have published this version of the story in 1823, but it had various modifications before that. On their 1812 version, the Queen eats the heart believing it was Snow White’s and later on is punished for her crimes against the princess. She doesn’t die by falling ill, instead she dies due to her punishment where she is given slippers of iron that are burning hot and is forced to dance with them on until she drops dead.
Did I ruin your childhood yet? How about this:
The story was told by the Grimm brothers in the 19th century, but there has been an earlier version found in the 17th century by the Italian poet Giambattista Basile. He was a fairy tale collector and in his published collection, The Pentamerone, he recorded many of the fairy tales we know of today. In his collection, there is a story titled “The Young Slave” that narrates a similar version of “Snow White.” In this version, the baron’s niece (Snow White, but in this version called Lisa) was poisoned by a comb stuck in her hair and was put into a crystal coffin to protect her. Years later, the baron’s wife found the coffin and out of jealousy for the girl’s beauty she pulled her out of the coffin by her hair and when the comb fell off, the girl awakened. The woman then beat the girl and made her a slave. The girl’s uncle, the baron, did not know who the girl was until he heard her talking to her dolls and discovered the truth. He then sent her with some relatives where she grew healthy and beautiful, dismissed his wife, and eventually married her.
This is one of the oldest tales recorded of “Snow White.” Poisoned, beaten, abused and made a slave, and eventually married with her uncle. Yikes! Not so pretty as Walt Disney’s cute cleaning animals, “Heigh ho” singing dwarfs, and the prince’s true love’s kiss, huh?
As of today, there are many versions of “Snow White.” Though, most of them are not as cruel as the oldest versions recorded. These versions are more on the comical rather than the gruesome side. The latest versions include the 2012 films, Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror, the 2007 film, Enchanted, and my personal favorite the 2005 film, Sydney White.
Well, until our next once upon a time… Adieu 😉