Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first movie in the series of Disney-produced adaptations of classical fairytales, which eventually grew into the Disney princesses franchise we know today. As such, the movie is a fan favorite and many will be able to tell you at least a few fun facts about this classic. One question that often remains in the air is when exactly Snow White takes place.
The story of Snow White sometimes in the 1500s in Germany based on the subtle hints and styling choices made by the Disney production team.
If you want to know more about this important piece of pop culture make sure to read this article all the way through since it offers an in-depth analysis of the hints pointing towards the correct time period as well as the story’s interesting origin.
When does Snow White take place?
Snow White may seem like a story that would be hard to place on the timeline, however, there is more than enough hint to help us determine when does this beloved fairytale take place.
Just like with the rest of the Disney movies the biggest hint is the clothing. If we carefully observe the way Snow White and the Evil Queen are dressed we can place the story sometime in the 1500s.
At the first glance, it may seem like it would be hard to determine it through the clothing since all of it looks generically medieval, there are quite a few pieces of clothing that give the time period away immediately.
Over-the-top collars were a staple during this time period. It is present in many different pieces of media from the corresponding time period but is the most noticeable in portraits of wealthy and powerful people.
Ruffled collars can be seen in the depictions of Queen Elisabeth and the Spanish royalty. Although the materials most often used were lace or different patterned fabrics, Disney took a few creative liberties when it came to the choices.
Both Snow White and the Evil Queen have high collars as a part of their outfits, however, they are plain white and the material doesn’t seem to be anything similar to lace.
This was most likely done to make the distinction between the two as to which character is evil and which one is good. While the Evil Queen has a higher collar with sharp lines and points, Snow White has a more rounder one which cuts off much lower than the one the queen is wearing.
Another popular fashion piece of that time period was capes and wide sleeves (think Morticia Adams if you’re unsure of what this looks like). If you closely look at the Evil Queen and her dress you will notice it has both of these elements.
Snow White’s dress is also a typical dress from that time period, although the short sleeves featured in the Disney adaptation would not be popular at the time. Another thing that would be quite unusual for that time period would be the bright colors featured on the dress, however, it is clear that Disney did that to make it appeal better to the young audience the movie was targeted towards.
The same thing can be said for makeup. Snow White is shown to have minimal to no make-up on her face, however, her pale complexion and bright red lipstick would be consistent with the beauty standard of the time.
This aspect is a bit more expressed when it comes to the Evil Queen. She is shown as wearing much more makeup than Snow White. She also has an extremely pale complexion and is also sporting red lipstick. She is also shown wearing heavy eye shadow and while this wasn’t a popular look at the time, it does wonders for establishing the queen as the antagonist of the story.
There are a few other subtle hints, however, they are not as reliable as the ones we discussed before. Despite this, all of the evidence presented when it comes to the fashion and beauty aspect of the movie is more than enough for us to conclude with certainty that the story is taking place sometimes in the 1500s.
Where does Snow White take place?
When it comes to the geographical location of where the story takes place, it is quite obvious that Snow White is taking place in Germany. As the first clue, we can look at the authors of the collection of folktales in which the story was published, Brothers Grimm, who were German.
Another clue can be found once we get a good look at the dwarfs’ home. During one shoot we can see a shelf full of books and a lot of furniture which point to Germany as the place where the story is taking place.
Another clue is the fact that the dwarfs constantly yodel. Not only is this form of singing native to the regions of Germany, but the 1500s would also be too early to assume that the form of singing simply spread to a different part of the world.
Another thing to consider is the fact that while the place where the story would be Germany if we look at a modern political map the story could be taking place anywhere in Germany, but also throughout different parts of Europe which would today be either Belgium, Netherlands or Luxemburg.
What is Snow White based on?
The best-known version of the story originates from Germany and their most popular collections of fairytales put together by the Grimm brothers.
The Grimm brothers were German scholars, historians, and writers who gathered folktales that had been passed down from generation to generation of women telling stories to pass the time. The collection was published in 1812 as Nursery and Household Tales.
Aside from Snow White, the brothers are credited with the stories which were adapted in the older Disney classics, such as Cinderella and Rapunzel.
Much like the aforementioned two, the brothers didn’t actually create the story of Snow White, but rather collected it from German people and published it in their collection.
The story was probably passed down from generation to generation among German commonfolk. Throughout this process, the story changed over time and the story contained in Nursery and Household Tales was significantly different than it was in the original form.
Disney continued this tradition when Disney interpreted the story for their first animated adaptation of stories centered on princesses in 1937.
The original story is much darker than the Disney adaptation and many changes had to be made in order for the story to make it to big screens in America.
While the adaptation features the part of the story in which the Evil Queen, driven by jealousy, orders a hunter to take Snow White deep into the woods and kill her, it leaves out the part in which the queen boils and eats boar’s inner organs she believes belonged to Snow White.
The adaptation also ages up the main character quite a bit. The fact that a 14-year-old Snow White is subjected to everything that happens in the movie is already bad but in the original tale, Snow White is only 7 years old.
The Evil Queen tries to kill Snow White a total of three times in the original story, however, the adaptation leaves out the occasion where she tries to suffocate her with a corset too tight for her and poison her with a hair comb dipped in poison, opting to keep the apple attempt alone.
The only thing that was contained in the original story that is ultimately better in the book is the fact that Snow White comes back to life when one of the seven dwarfs stumbles while carrying her glass coffin, causing the piece of apple to fall out of her throat.
The last thing that was changed from the original story and for a good reason is the way in which the Evil Queen dies.
In the Disney adaptation, the queen is chased onto a cliff by the dwarfs, where she falls to her death. This way her death could be blamed on gravity and all of the characters remain completely good.
In the original version, Snow White decides she wants a bit of revenge and forces the Evil Queen to dance while wearing scorching hot iron shoes until she dies.