Disney’s long awaited live-action version of Snow White, directed by Marc Webb, is scheduled to hit the screens next March 22, some four score and seven years after the original animation was released in 1937. Rachel Zegler will star as Ms. White in the remake, while her nemesis, the Evil Queen, will be played by Gal Gadot.
The upcoming film has already unleashed a blizzard of controversy. Some critics complained that Zegler, of Colombian and Polish descent, was unsuited to play the role of a character with “skin as white as snow” (as specified in the original Brothers Grimm story).
Others grumbled (like Grumpy?) that the seven dwarfs were being transmogrified into a more politically correct troupe of gender-diverse characters.
Zegler herself signaled that her role was not going to conform to the archaic gender roles that prevailed in 1937. In an interview in Variety last September, the 22-year-old actor was quoted as saying: “She’s not going to be dreaming about true love. She’s dreaming about becoming the leader that her late father told her she could be if she was fearless, brave, and true.”
Adding fuel to the fire, David Hand (a former Disney designer whose eponymous father was one of the directors of the 1937 film, railed in The Telegraph that he was displeased with the “woke” approach behind the new film. Hand, now 91, was a toddler when his father was working on the original Snow White.
“It’s a whole different concept and I just totally disagree with it, and I know my dad and Walt would also very much disagree with it,” Hand carped.
“[Disney’s] thoughts are just so radical now. They change the stories, they change the thought process of the characters, … they’re making up new woke things and I’m just not into any of that. I find it quite frankly a bit insulting [what] they may have done with some of these classic films. … I think Walt and [my dad] would be turning in their graves.”
In a tweet last week, Zegler expressed her thoughts on the controversy without getting into specifics. “I hope the world becomes kinder,” she wrote, asking her followers to “treat each other with patience and empathy. Remember that you are loved unconditionally, no matter your mistakes, no matter your misunderstandings. You deserve it. You deserve love. You deserve to live without fear.”
The original Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a significant game-changer for Disney. As the first feature-length animated film, its success motivated the company to create similar films that have become classic.
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