Snow White and the Kiss of Death

I dressed as Snow White for Halloween for about three years in a row when I was a little girl … then once again when I was 24. I have a vintage Snow White movie poster hanging in my living room and a Snow White keychain dangling from my key ring. Knowing this, you might assume that I’m a huge fan of the Disney movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But I’m really not. In fact, I think it’s pretty ridiculous. Here’s why:

Within the first minute of the movie, Snow White flees from the prince like she’s being chased by a swarm of angry bees – but when he kisses her awake in the final scene, she embraces him like she’s known him her entire life (keeping in mind that this is only the second time she’s ever laid eyes on him). She hops on the back of his horse and allows him to whisk her away to who-knows-where. Granted, by this point in the movie she’s experienced some terrifying hallucinations in the middle of a dark forest (after escaping a huntsman who intended to cut out her heart), she’s been poisoned by an evil queen, and she’s spent the last year or so sleeping in a glass coffin – so the sudden reappearance of a handsome prince is probably the least of her worries.

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All that combined with the fact that Snow White is a mere 14 years old (which is an improvement upon the original tale, in which she is about seven) makes the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a little more creepy than heartwarming.

So, why the Snow White swag?

Well, for one, she’s the original Princess. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937 and was Walt Disney’s first feature-length animated film. Snow was soon joined by Cinderella and Aurora (both released in the 50’s, both bona fide members of the Disney Princess lineup) – but for more than a decade, she was the reigning Queen.

On top of that, her dress is on point. There’s just something about that puffy sleeved, stiff collared, primary colored gown that appeals to my sense of style – which is why I have owned not one, but two Snow White costumes over the course of my life. Also, she’s the only Disney Princess to rock a cape … that is, until Elsa and Anna came along.

Finally, despite the fact that Snow White is no heroine, her story has just the right amount of darkness. She chomps into a poisoned apple and falls into a death-like coma for the span of several seasons – during which time she is kept in a glass coffin in the forest. It’s a little macabre, but that’s part of the draw.

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Of course, when you take into consideration that Snow White was originally published by the Brothers Grimm (infamous for their haunting folklore), that “darkness” makes sense. If Disney were to follow the original tale, they would have the evil Queen stepping into a pair of white hot iron shoes at the end of the story and dancing to death while Snow White and her new husband, along with every King and Queen in the land, watch from the sidelines. It’s not exactly how I would choose to spend my wedding reception, but, then again, I’ve never been the target of a murderous step-mother.

In any case, when I came across this even more macabre fan theory, claiming that the Prince is actually a living, breathing metaphor for Death, I had to know more.

One redditor proposes that the reason Snow White runs scared when she sees the Prince for the first time is because he represents a brush with Death – after all, she was hanging dangerously over a well right before he appeared … maybe she narrowly escaped becoming Samara from The Ring.

Hypocrites argue that Snow’s reaction is more due to the fact that she’s a naïve and isolated young girl – surprised by a handsome royal showing up in her courtyard.

But I’ve got a few different theories.

For one, she had just spent her morning singing over her wishing well, wishing for her Prince to come. Voila! He appears. Maybe it’s because I just watched the “Wishful Thinking” episode of Supernatural (in which a wishing well actually starts to grant people’s wishes – emphasizing the importance of “be careful what you wish for”), but that instant gratification would freak me out too.

Secondly, let’s say the Prince is, in fact, a metaphor for Death; I don’t think he appeared because Snow White almost accidentally threw herself down the well, I think he appeared for the sake of foreshadowing. Think about it, Snow White is just minding her own business, going about her chores, when the Prince appears (surrounded by doves, no less, also known as “celestial messengers” — I’m not saying that’s a sign, but it’s probably a sign). From that moment on, it’s all downhill for Snow.

First, the evil Queen sends a huntsman after her step-daughter with instructions to “Bring me her heart.” Fortunately, the huntsman can’t bring himself to rip into the chest of an innocent girl (whose only crime is being “the fairest of the them all”) and tells Snow to flee into the forest instead. While there, she encounters plenty of horrors that viewers could probably assume are trying to kill her (either that or she’s on one hell of an acid trip). Of course, she soon happens upon the dwarfs’ cottage and heaves a huge sigh of relief – only to bite into a poisoned apple and die. If the Final Destination franchise has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t outrun Death.

In the Grimm’s original, Snow actually gets a piece of poisoned apple lodged in her throat – causing the appearance of death. Later, when the Prince unknowingly dislodges it (his men stumble while carrying her coffin through the forest), she springs back to life and lives happily ever after. In the Disney movie, however, all the Prince has to do is kiss her to bring her back from her death-like state … but something doesn’t add up. Snow was poisoned, not cursed, so how does one little kiss bring her back?

Long story short: It doesn’t. According to this theory, the Prince isn’t giving her the kiss of life, he’s giving her the kiss of Death. And when you think about it that way, the rest of the movie starts to make a lot of sense.

For one, the feel of the movie seems to change from the moment their lips meet. The sun shines a little brighter, the music plays a little softer, and the clouds take the form of a magical, distant castle.

Snow White bids her final (and I mean final) farewells to the dwarfs before the Prince leads her away on a white horse (a possible shout-out to the “pale horse” in Revelations, which was ridden by Death), and the two disappear into the heavenly sunset.

This would also explain why she shies away from him at the beginning of the film, but welcomes him with open arms at the end. She initially fears Death, but comes to accept it and even embrace it – allowing the Prince to lead her into the afterlife.

… All this puts a dark twist on her classic song, “Someday My Prince Will Come.” And, as this article morbidly states, “Someday the prince will come for all of us.”

Surely Walt Disney didn’t intend for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to become such a gothic tale, but for those of us who find the original Disney Princess to be a little too sweet, Snow White and the Kiss of Death is an appealing twist.

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