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Inside The Box: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs DVD and Blu-ray Disc Comparisons

Walt Disney Productions / Walt Disney Home Entertainment (1937 / 2009)
84 mins plus supplements, 1.37:1, 5.1 Surround, Rated G, $30 – $250

The Movie:

sw-sets-01Is there anyone that has never seen Walt Disney’s debut in the feature-animation field, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, the film that also formed the template for over 70 years of such films to follow? In short, the film is a genuine masterpiece, and can be read about fully in the various articles available to read on this website in celebration of the film’s high definition debut a couple of months ago.

Released in several configurations, all of them baffling collectors until they could hold the various editions in their hands in order to make an informed purchase, a major source of confusion was the Blu-ray in DVD’s clothing format, leading many to buy a copy of the movie they couldn’t actually play on their systems. With the November 24 release of Snow White in a true two-disc regular DVD set, the many editions of the film are all now available to own in whatever configuration one sees fit.

Much of this will be down to your system capabilities, just how much you love Snow White…and your bank balance, with standard definition versions starting at under $20, accounting for online discounts, to “deluxe” box sets costing near $250! Here, then, is a complete run down and comparison of all the now available editions of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.

A good place to start is with our full review of the Blu-ray and DVD combo set, which outlines all the bonus features to be found in the various versions below. Which one is right for you?

Standard Definition DVD: $29.99

Released November 24, this is the regular DVD edition of the movie that will play on all current disc players. Much has been made of all the different cover art treatments for Snow White, and this option provides yet another concept. The front and back cover art are reproduced below:

The artwork consists of a standard DVD-sized DVD case, with a slipcover replicating the sleeve. The supplements in this set are as follows:

• DVD Disc 1:

• Audio Commentary with Walt Disney, hosted by John Canemaker
The Princess And The Frog Sneak Peek
Someday My Prince Will Come music video with Tiffany Thornton
Snow White Returns presents newly discovered storyboards suggesting a Snow White featurette that never got made, with Disney’s Don Hahn narrating how this short story would have played out

• DVD Disc 2:

The One That Started It All 17-minute featurette providing an overview of Snow White’s production
Animation Voice Talent
Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride interactive set-top game
Disney Through The Decades and New Century: a series of video segments with celebrity hosts look at Snow White’s release over the years
Heigh-Ho karaoke sing-along
• Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray Is Suite! promo
• Learn How To Take Your Favorite Movies On The Go: Digital Copy explained

Anyone familiar with the original 2001 Platinum Edition DVD will note a surprising amount of material is missing here from that edition. The Audio Commentary, Animation Voice Talent, Dopey’s Wile Mine Ride and Disney Through The Decades options are straight carry-overs (with a new Decades segment filmed to fill in the time since the 2001 release), but dropped are a much more in depth 50-minute making of, a number of storyboard to film comparisons, deleted scenes and abandoned concepts (including the fully animated scene of the Witch planning the sleeping death at her cauldron that Walt cut late into production as it was deemed too gruesome), an extensive gallery of posters, press kits and merchandising, plus Premiere newsreel footage, the RKO press film A Trip Through Walt Disney Studios and the general release of this short How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made.

As a courtesy, we include the Amazon link to this standard DVD edition below, but simply put: if you require Snow White on DVD, save the new restoration for when you upgrade to Blu-ray, and search out the much more detailed Platinum Edition instead.


High Definition Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging: $39.99

Released on October 6, this is a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack which includes two Blu-ray discs and one DVD disc. The Blu-rays will not play on regular DVD players, and the single DVD disc is the exact same as Disc 1 found in the regular two-disc set described above, except for the removal of the Snow White Returns featurette. Controversially, the font cover swaps out Snow White for the Witch, thus making it seem the Dwarfs are smiling at the Witch! The front and back cover art are reproduced below:

The artwork consists of a regular (shorter than a DVD) Blu-ray case, which is slightly thicker than standard cases to account for the three discs included. The supplements in this set are as follows:

• Blu-ray Disc 1:

• Audio Commentary with Walt Disney, hosted by John Canemaker
• DisneyView – artist Toby Bluth’s side panel paintings add width to the widescreen presentation
The Princess And The Frog Sneak Peek
Someday My Prince Will Come music video with Tiffany Thornton
Snow White Returns: storyboards with Don Hahn
• Deleted Scenes: Soup Song sequence and the Dwarfs build Snow White a new bed
• BD-Live Games: Mirror Mirror On The Wall, What Do You See?, Jewel Jumble and Scene Stealer
• Learn How To Take Your Favorite Movies On The Go

• Blu-ray Disc 2:

Hyperion Studios: be digitally transported to 1937 to discover the original studio Walt built, where Snow White was conceived and developed, featuring 1937 Premiere newsreel footage and featurettes focused on various Rooms and Departments including Story, Music, Art, Character Design, Background, Animation, Live-Action Reference, Sweatbox, Soundstage, Ink & Paint, and Camera, plus classic Disney shorts in HD: Babes In The Wood, The Skeleton Dance, Music Land, The Goddess Of Spring, Playful Pluto, a fully restored edition of Steamboat Willie, Flowers And Trees and The Old Mill.
The One That Started It All featurette
Animation Voice Talent (standard definition)
Dopey’s Wild Mine Ride: set-top game (standard definition)
Disney Through The Decades (SD) and New Century (HD)
Heigh-Ho karaoke sing-along

• DVD Disc:

• Audio Commentary with Walt Disney, hosted by John Canemaker
The Princess And The Frog Sneak Peek
Someday My Prince Will Come music video

This is the edition fully reviewed here and, while it may look like a hike up in content from the standard DVD edition, in actual fact it still feels more interested in delivering a high quality Blu-ray experience and illustrating life at Disney’s before Snow White as opposed to elaborating on the making of the actual film itself. Having the debut of the shorts in high definition is exciting, but these come at the expense of vintage material and many of the Platinum Edition featurettes and, while the Hyperion Studios “tour” is very well done, Snow White’s hi-def supplemental package isn’t quite the knockout the film was in 1937.


High Definition Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack in DVD Packaging: $39.99

This is where the confusion begins! In short, this is the exact same set as the “Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack” described above. The same two Blu-ray discs are included, as well as the same DVD disc. BUT, the only difference is that the pack above is advertised as a “Blu-ray with DVD”, while this edition is marked as a “DVD with Blu-ray”, which led many people to think they were getting a two-disc DVD and a single Blu-ray disc.

This is NOT the case and not helped by the fact that this packaging is designed as a regular, taller style DVD cover, and looks like a DVD to all intents and purposes, a ploy that might suggest Disney was trying to dupe purchasers into buying a Blu-ray disc and then having to buy the player to go with it. But the contents of the discs are exactly the same as the Blu-ray Combo: two high definition Blu-ray discs (which will not play on a standard DVD player) and one DVD. The front and back cover art are different again, this time putting Snow White herself front and center as she should rightfully be:

Despite the outer packaging, the inserts are again the same as the Blu-ray & DVD Combo pack, even down to their slightly dwarfed Blu-ray size, made more evident by the taller DVD case. The supplements in this set are as precisely the same as the Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack described above.


Blu-ray & DVD Combo With Collector’s Book: $59.99

Although the DVD-sized box will not match up any other Disney Blu-rays in your collection, this book and disc set probably represents the best value in terms of Snow White in high definition, especially with online discounts bringing the cost down to under $40. Those familiar with the way Disney presented its Platinum Editions in the UK will note that this Snow White Collector’s Book set follows the same trend: that of a “storybook” box whose glossy front cover opens like the cover of a book to reveal the disc and book inside.

The Blu-ray and DVD combo pack in this edition is exactly the same as the “Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack in DVD Packaging” described above. The case is the taller DVD style and the discs, again two Blu-rays and one single DVD, contain the very same content as before, including all the Hyperion Studios material. The book is a DVD case-sized hardcover volume, labelled Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs: The Storybook And The Making Of A Masterpiece, and is 160 pages in length. Although some of the pages have had their layout slightly altered to accommodate the smaller size, the content on the pages is exactly the same as that found in the larger sized version of the same book in the Limited Collector’s set described below.


Blu-ray & DVD Combo With Plush Dwarfs Gift Set: $79.99

An odd edition of Snow White, perhaps being intended more for children, but priced out of their range, featuring all seven Dwarfs as not entirely attractive plush figures. The plastic bag packaging is cheap, though probably intended to be discarded once the disc is on your shelf and the Dwarfs are set free to run about your home (well, we wouldn’t want them to suffocate in there, would we?)!

Left: Blu-ray, DVD and Plush Dwarfs Set / Right: Disney Movie Rewards Plush Set

The Blu-ray and DVD combo pack in this edition is again exactly the same as the “Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging” described above. The case is the taller DVD style and the discs (two Blu-rays, one DVD) contain the same content as before, including the Hyperion Studios material.

However, is the set worth the extra $50 for a set of plush dolls that are available elsewhere for absolutely nothing? Well, technically not nothing, though eagle eyed fans of the Disney Movie Rewards program may have noted that the exact same figures [pictured above right] are available as one of the rewards, for just 2,300 points!


Blu-ray & DVD Combo Limited Edition Collector’s Set: $249.99

The most lavish and evidently intended to be spectacular home video edition of Snow White, this Limited Edition Collector’s set proved controversial from the moment it was announced. A lack of comprehensive details released from the Studio meant many fans did not know what the contents of this deluxe box set actually were, save for the fact that it would feature the High Definition “Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging”, again as fully reviewed here.

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Original Promotional Image

Although the specifications listed an eight-piece Exclusive Character Pin Set of all seven Dwarfs plus a new Snow White emblem, a Certificate Of Authenticity and a collection of eight Lithographs Of Original Animation Drawings, the details on the much anticipated “Exquisitely Bound 160-page Hardcover Book”, entitled Snow White: A Chronicle Of The Art, The History And The Magic Of Walt Disney’s Masterpiece, were scarce, offering serious fans who might be interested little to make an informed decision on whether to purchase the set or not.

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Early word suggested it may be a re-print of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs And The Making Of The Classic Film, Richard Hollis and Brian Sibley’s 1980s book that was repackaged in a 1993 LaserDisc box set release, or that it might be an long-requested by fans English-language re-print of French historian Pierre Lambert’s Blanche-Neige, a hefty tome of art, documents and other production artifacts, but nothing was confirmed.

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With the eventual release, the widely held view is that this $250 collection does not offer particularly fulfilling value, especially considering that the book turns out to be not so exclusive except for its size: as mentioned above it simply reprints the same content as the $60 Blu-ray, DVD and Book set. This is an impressive volume, mostly for the newly restored frame stills from the movie, but it draws too heavily from those two previously referenced books to feel as original as it should and, as such, can not honestly be termed an essential addition to anyone’s Snow White library.

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As for the rest of the package, it is a hybrid of being classy on the outside and feeling a bit more “economical” once one opens it up. The exterior has a plush velour finish feel, which is quite a tease to the suggested quality within, but looking inside that quality begins to wane. For starters, the interior padding is simply cardboard and easily ripped (indeed the set reviewed here was already torn from the disc and book being too tightly packed). The BD and DVD pack is the exact same two-Blu-ray and single DVD set as the “Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack in Blu-ray Packaging”, without any extra bonus discs.

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The box lid lifts up, with only the velour covering acting as a hinge, supported by two satin ribbons, one of which had to be re-glued when it lost its adhesiveness. Removing the BD case, underneath there’s a white cardboard sleeve, protecting the red velour covered case for the eight pin set, itself a very nice trinket. Underneath that, one must fold open the cumbersome blue cardboard packaging, which doesn’t fold quite as much as should, leaving it quite difficult to hold it open or fold close again while one attempts to pull out or put back the envelope of character sketches and the large book.

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As you can see in the differences between the advertised size of the lithographs, which look almost as big as the book (approximately 9 by 11 inches), and the size in our own photos here, they are not much bigger than the BD case in actuality, but slightly too big to fit inside the cardboard case holder. This led, in this case, to the envelope becoming stuck to the book underneath, leading to the front cover book emblem to becoming scuffed while in transit.

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The book itself is written by Disney historian Jeff Kurtti, with acknowledgement to Hollis and Sibley, among others, and is divided into three main sections. Part One: The History, covers Walt’s rise and early cartoons, Part Two: The Story, sees the majority of the book given over to retelling the plot accompanied by concept and, primarily, newly restored frame stills, and Part Three: The Legacy has more production stories, reaction to the film, its success and an epilogue on the high definition restoration.

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The inclusion of the book raises the question as to who this set is aimed at: the book clearly seeks to educate us about the film and its production, but surely someone who wants to spend a suggested list price of $250 on Snow White must already be a big enough fan to hold similar books in their collections already? While interesting, the book can not add anything new to the Snow White story. As a smaller volume in the $60 disc and book set, casual fans are sure to be entertained and informed but, stretched out to this large format and like the contents of the discs, feels unfortunately feels slightly inconsequential.

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Ultimately, the box is very enticing, but is just not good value at the $249.99 list price. Even at the online discounts of around $150 still seem to be on the expensive side when one factors in that the same book content can be found in the smaller Collector’s Book set for near $40 after discounts. However, at the time of this writing, Amazon are offering this Limited Edition set for $120, a much reduced saving that begins to sound more reasonable, even if the concurrent deluxe box set releases from Warner Home Video of The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind pack in much more content and trinkets for around even half that cost.


It’s A Wrap!

sw-sets-12The bottom line in dealing with the question of which edition of Snow White is right for you will be down to your own system requirements, of course. If regular, standard definition DVD is the only option for you, then our genuine suggestion is to hunt down a copy of the much superior two-disc Platinum Edition from 2001, if you don’t already own it. The restoration may not be quite as state of the art as the new DVD, but what one gains in the sheer amount of additional supplements over the slim pickings found on the new disc more than makes up for this, and the 2001 restoration is still remarkable.

If high definition Blu-ray is where you’re headed, and you’re able to splash the cash, then the Limited Edition Collector’s Set is the most deluxe assembling of material if not the best for value. As such, our recommended edition of choice – based on value for money – would have to be the Blu-ray, DVD and Book Collector’s Set, listed at $60 but widely available at around $40 online. This loses the trinkets from the big box, but the book contains the same content as the larger volume, right down to the same page count. Alternatively, some retailers offered their own packaging, in particular a very nice steelbook case, but across all the Blu-ray and DVD packages, the actual disc content remains the same.

Ultimately, Snow White’s 2009 release on Blu-ray and DVD has been confusing and more than slightly disappointing. The movie itself looks as good, if not better, than new, but the disc-based supplements can only be described as “light” at best. The inclusion of some classic Disney shorts in HD on the Blu-ray disc is a big plus, but the awkward navigation in order to access them is overly cumbersome and the lack of authentic studio footage from 1937 is lamentable. Perhaps Disney has been holding this material back so that the Studio can revisit the one that started it all for her 80th Anniversary in 2017, when hopefully we won’t have to resort to asking the Magic Mirror, “which is the fairest one of all”?

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs:
Blu-ray & DVD Combo With Collector’s Book
is available to purchase from Amazon.com


Additional Snow White Reading at Animated Views:

Snow White: The Characters And Legacy Of The First And Fairest Of Them All!
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: With a Smile and a Song!
Snow White: Marge Champion, a Model Princess!


 

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