Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Tale of Two Eras

On this lovely, lazy Saturday evening, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is on the television. I have settled my 50-something body into a comfy chair in my 83-year-old house to watch a 1937 movie with my daughter - 2010 style.

She's sitting in her own house on her own sofa a mile away and we're enjoying the movie together via text message.

"Oh my gosh, the singing is soooo 1930s," I tap into the ether.

"I know!" comes the reply. "And the graphics. Or maybe then it was just called animation."

Indeed. It's difficult to watch this, the first full-length cel-animated color feature movie ever (something I know because I could look it up on Wikipedia from my iPhone) without noticing how much charm and rich detail has been lost in surrendering the painstaking hand of the artist to the efficiency of the computer.

"When we grew up everyone focused on the fairy-tale ending - either saying 'pooh pooh I don't need a prince,' or 'I want a knight in shining armor,' says the next message on the little iPhone screen I hold in my hand, while Otis the dog snores beside me.

"But no one focuses on how sweet and good Snow White is to emulate, or you could be ugly and jealous like the queen. A much better lesson learned, if you ask me."

Interesting point.

"Makes me want to see Bambi, even though it makes me cry," comes her next message, as Snow White makes her way through the forest and encounters woodland creatures that look a lot like characters in that 1942 tear-jerker. Although for my money, nothing draws out the hankies like the scene of Mrs. Jumbo caressing her baby elephant through the bars of lock-up in Dumbo, circa 1941. Both dates drawn from another quick Wiki check.

"They'd never get away with naming a mute character Dopey today," I observe. There is something to be said for progress.

The ending, of course, is preposterous. Felled by the poison apple, Snow White sleeps as snowflakes turn to spring blossoms, awakening only when the visiting prince plants a kiss on her lips. She opens her eyes, stretches, steps out of her glass coffin, hops on the Prince's horse and heads off to happily-ever-after.

No matter that she's had nothing to eat or drink for months. No muscle atrophy. No bedsores. No need for a quick trip to the bathroom or a tooth-brushing. And no idea whatever what this fellow is actually like. Today, we'd suspect he's an internet stalker.

"Good thing it ends here before they both get fat and grouchy," I type.

"You should see the shortened version of the children's book. There they never even met before he came upon her and kissed/fell in love/married," she responds. Fairy-tale meets E-Harmony.

Thus a thoroughly enjoyable 90 minutes with my daughter comes to conclusion.

Not a word spoken, nowhere near each other physically, but comfortably close.

The best of both the old and the new.