Everyone know the basic story of Snow White and I mean Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, not Snow White and Rose Red, that's different. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is probably most famous for being Walt Disney's first full-length animated feature, which, in 2017, will be celebrating it's 80th birthday. Of course as this is a Disney film, it's fairly tame as fairytales go. Very little of the gruesomeness the original Grimm fairytales offer. I will talk about this a little later in this post but I want to start with something I learnt fairly recently about Snow White, just in time for Hallowe'en as fortune would have it.
Obviously, fairytales are dark, until Disney get their hands on them but that's a subject for another time. What is interesting about Snow White, is that she was actually based on a real person. Countess Von Waldeck, a 16th century Bavarian noblewoman.
Strikingly beautiful by all accounts. Margarete was born in 1533 to Philip IV of Waldeck-Wildungen and his first wife, Margaret of East Frisia. Margarete grew up in Bad Wildungen, where her father and it is reported her brother, owned a copper mine worked by small children, severely stunted by their terrible working conditions and starvation. Since it was a different time and this wasn’t considered bad enough, they called these kids “dwarfs.” In 1549 when Margarete was about sixteen she moved to court in Brussels due to her and her step-mother not getting on. There, she caught the eye of Prince Philip II of Spain, and became his lover. However, the thought of Margarete being a princess was unbearable to her meddling stepmother (who, by all accounts, hated her) as well as Philip’s father, the king of Spain, who saw a marriage between the two as politically disadvantageous. Therefore, Spanish agents cooked up a plot to end the affair permanently, by poisoning the young beauty. Her will, written just before her death at 21, shows evidence of the tremors brought on by advanced stages of poisoning (although the perpetrator could not be her evil stepmother, who died before Margarete’s death).
Interestingly enough, the similarities don’t stop there it is alleged that in Margarete's home town there was a grumpy, old man who peddled poison apples to children, whom he believed were stealing from him.
So unfortunately for Margarete, the real Snow White, she didn't get her happy ending, which brings us to the Disney version.
Walt Disney films have a well-earned reputation for taking a fairytale and removing the gore and misery to give us a rather heartwarming family-fun film. As this was an early film we have some scary moments but the main story is ultimately happy. At the end the dim princess is taken home by the effeminate looking prince she did nothing but hear a song from at the beginning of the film. And by the way she's fourteen, just to make it a little more creepy. However, there is a theory that Snow White's happily ever after isn't quite as it seems. The theory is that the apple Snow White eats actually results in her death, her waking up to her prince and the idyllic life she wished for is her reward for having a been a good person and she's actually woken up in heaven. This theory is supported by the image of the Prince's castle being a golden castle in the clouds, very heaven-like. Of course this could just be to make it look magical, it could be a metaphor that the life that awaits Snow White is her idea of heaven. The ending of the film is the book proclaiming that they all lived happily ever after but I do wonder, is that because there's only happiness in heaven?