Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snow White at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

No, it’s not the ever-famous animated feature...it’s the live action 1916 feature film that served as a young Walt Disney’s inspiration!

Snow White (1916)
The fine folks at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival have scheduled the rare silent feature Snow White (1916) to play this coming Saturday, February 16th, 2013. The film was directed by J. Searle Dawley and stars Margeurite Clark, Dorothy Cumming, Creighton Hale, Lionel Braham, and Alice Washburn. Silent film accompanist Donald Sosin will be playing on the grand piano for this marvelous presentation.

What makes this film so important, and especially of interest to animation historians? The story goes that in 1917, a 16 year old Walt Disney saw the film which was being shown in a free event at the Kansas City Convention Center. It was one of the first features Walt saw, and the experience was an inspirational one. Twenty years later, in 1937, Walt’s studio released the first major sound-era animated feature-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a subject that marked an extremely important turning point in animation history.

I recall seeing a brief clip of the film in a 1950s-era retrospective from the Disney studio but the film had been considered lost in recent decades. Thankfully, materials surfaced in the Netherlands and a print was preserved by the George Eastman House film archive. This is a screening anyone in the San Francisco area should attend--I wish I was going to be there!

The film is being shown in conjunction with the impressive Walt Disney Family Museum, which I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting, but it has been highly recommended to me by all colleagues who have been there. An introduction for the film is to be given by a leading Disney historian I am proud to know, J.B. Kaufman. Mr. Kaufman has two new excellent books out, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Art and Creation of Walt Disney’s Classic Animated Film and The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Be sure to attend this fabulous event!


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